Codeweavers has released the public beta version of CrossOver Mac, the firm's virtualization software that lets Intel-based Macs run Windows applications -- without having Windows installed.
Based on the open-source project WINE, CrossOver Mac provides the ability to run Windows applications and some games on the Mac without having to reboot or switch to a virtual machine interface -- applications appear in the same Finder interface that Mac users are accustomed to. Because it's based on WINE, which translates Windows-specific code references to other operating systems' technology, no Windows operating system license is needed in order to get CrossOver to work.
By comparison, Boot Camp, Apple's Windows-enabling software for Intel Macs, requires you to install a copy of Windows. Similarly, Parallels Desktop for Mac needs a Windows operating system (or other PC-compatible operating system) in order to operate.
Codeweavers advises that CrossOver Mac's public beta "will give you a taste," but "should be considered an early test release." The developers promise "substantial further improvements" before the production version ships. In other words, unless you're willing to tolerate issues that sometimes pop up with experimental software, "you should skip this and wait for notice of the production release."
And the last word....The CrossOver Mac public beta is a 60-day version. Users interested in placing a pre-order can, for a reduced price of $39.95.