7 Best Mac and Windows Desktop Virtualization Software for Personal and Business Use

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Desktop virtualization software allows you to run multiple operating systems on a single physical computer. This technology is becoming increasingly important for both businesses and home users. It enables access to operating systems that may be unavailable, old, or have different system requirements. With desktop virtualization, you can easily switch to the virtual world, save money, and avoid hassles. In this guide, we‘ll explore desktop virtualization in more depth, explain why you need it, and review some top software options for Windows and Mac.

What is Desktop Virtualization?

Desktop virtualization is a modern technology that creates a virtual environment on your desktop for different purposes. It allows you to access your desktop remotely from any device.

To understand it better, imagine you work remotely for a company due to COVID-19 and need access to internal resources to do your job. Using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, you can securely access those resources from anywhere, regardless of the operating system.

That‘s how desktop virtualization works. It‘s a key part of modern digital workspaces and can also serve as a disaster recovery strategy. Since all components are stored in data centers, you can restore lost data from other devices using desktop virtualization.

There are two main approaches to desktop virtualization based on where the operating system is located:

  • Local Desktop Virtualization: The operating system runs on the client device using virtual hardware. All workloads and processing happen on local hardware. This is best when users can meet computing needs with local resources and don‘t require a continuous network connection.

  • Remote Desktop Virtualization: The more common approach operates on a server computing environment. It allows companies or individuals to run apps and operating systems remotely from a data center server. All interactions occur on the client device like a smartphone, thin client, or laptop. This provides more centralized control over desktops/apps and maximizes the use of virtual machines so data is never lost. It also saves money by avoiding extra hardware for multiple operating systems.

How Does Desktop Virtualization Work?

Local and remote desktop virtualization work differently. Local is simple with a continuous connection.

Remote desktop virtualization uses a client/server model. The chosen operating system or application runs on a server in a data center or the cloud. Virtual desktops abstract client software from the physical access device connecting to data/apps over the internet. This lets users access a virtual desktop from many devices.

Now let‘s look at why desktop virtualization solutions are so valuable.

Why is Desktop Virtualization Essential?

Here are some key benefits of using a desktop virtualization solution:

Simple Administration

Desktop virtualization makes it easier for IT teams to manage employee computing needs. A business can maintain a single virtual machine template for similar roles instead of managing individual systems that need updates, reconfigs, patches, etc. whenever software changes. This saves significant time and resources.

Enhanced Productivity

Once employees access enterprise resources for computing, they can work anywhere, anytime on any supported device like a laptop, mobile, or desktop. This makes work more convenient for employees, allowing companies to improve productivity through desktop virtualization.


In desktop virtualization, you get a desktop image that‘s abstracted from the physical hardware and isolated. The virtual machine delivers that image in a controlled environment managed by IT. The whole process is secure.

Remote Work

IT can give remote workers access while maintaining central control over virtual desktop deployment across devices. Desktop virtualization allows IT teams to roll out ready-to-use virtual desktops instead of manual setup on each employee desktop. Employees can then access the operating system on their desktop from any location.

Resource Utilization

Enterprises invest heavily in data center computing power. Since most computing happens in the data center with desktop virtualization, companies can provide lower-cost endpoint devices to users. IT can also save money on expensive hardware by reducing endpoint computing needs. This allows dynamic use of resources as needed to handle other tasks effectively.

End-user Experiences

With a desktop virtualization solution, end users get a feature-rich experience with scalability and agility, all without sacrificing functionality. Users can rely on robust virtual machine capabilities for an enhanced end-user experience that retains them longer.

Supports Multiple Devices

Virtual machines can support remote access from many devices including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, some mobile devices, zero clients, and thin clients. You can deliver a workstation-like experience to employees with full desktop access anywhere, anytime.

Now let‘s explore some top virtualization software options for Windows and Mac.


Run Windows on Intel or Mac without rebooting your desktop using the desktop virtualization software from Parallels. It offers a powerful, easy, fast way to run virtual operating systems seamlessly for personal use.

Parallels has over 30 one-touch tools to simplify everyday tasks on Windows and Mac. It offers three key technologies:

Parallels desktop software

Use your preferred tech on your favorite device and get to work. The one-touch tools handle many functions like cleaning your drive, screenshots, downloading videos, securing private files, and more with a single click.

With Parallels, you won‘t find complex keyboard shortcuts or hassles. It‘s designed to be easy to use. You can also drag tools to the taskbar or dock for quicker access. Parallels provides many helpful options for your desktops too, like airplane mode, archive, barcode generator, alarm, and more. Try it free for 7 days and explore the benefits more deeply. Pricing starts at $19.99/year.


Get top-rated virtualization software for personal and business use with VMware to run different operating systems on your desktop without buying new hardware. It offers VMware Workstation Pro to take virtualization to the next level.

You get the broadest operating system support, comprehensive features, high performance, and an excellent user experience. IT professionals who rely on virtual machines for work can benefit from using VMware Workstation Pro 16.

You can also add basic or production support for an extra cost to get major Workstation Pro upgrades and technical assistance. Run multiple virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, or containers on one desktop.

VMware Workstation Pro

VMware is ready for the latest Windows and Linux releases. Enhanced 3D graphics support for DirectX 11 is another advanced capability. Plus, VMware includes 8GB of vGPU memory along with virtual networking, cloning, and snapshots for maximum efficiency.

Easily access and move your VMs across the VMware infrastructure. With the vctl CLI, you can push, build, pull, and run OCI container images. VMs are encrypted and restricted too for security.

Run Workstation Pro 16 VMs alongside Hyper-V and WSL2 on Windows. Get it now to make this cutting-edge software your virtual ally for tasks across operating systems.


Get the powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product VirtualBox for personal or enterprise use. The big advantage is it‘s open source software under GNU GPL terms.

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VirtualBox is feature-rich yet high-performance for many users. It runs on Linux, Windows, Solaris, and Mac. It also supports numerous guest operating systems like OpenBSD, OpenSolaris, Windows 8/7/Vista, and more.

VirtualBox continually meets stringent quality criteria so you can count on it for flawless operation. Many dedicated companies contribute to making VirtualBox one of the top desktop virtualization solutions globally.

Download the latest VirtualBox and work in different operating systems from one desktop without the cost of extra hardware.

Citrix DaaS

Enable secure, flexible work with Citrix DaaS, a leader in virtual desktop and app delivery. Start with Citrix DaaS today to provide a high performance, familiar digital workspace experience for users.

Let Citrix DaaS handle security and infrastructure so you can focus on your business. With a virtual workspace, you can meet the needs of the modern workforce while keeping data secure. This can boost productivity.

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Citrix DaaS also provides comprehensive security, a superior experience, hybrid multi-cloud support, actionable analytics, and simplified management. You get three ways to experience it:

  • Preview overview
  • Customized 1:1 demo
  • In-depth admin experience

Fuel employee productivity and keep data as well as apps protected. Easily build a better plan for your business with user-friendly, scalable workspace solutions from Citrix DaaS.

Xen Project

Xen Project is advancing virtualization across many open source and commercial applications like desktop virtualization, hardware appliances, automotive, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), security software, and server virtualization.

Xen Project

This virtualization software is highly customizable and versatile thanks to its unique architecture that powers tasks with virtualization capabilities. It‘s the top choice of major cloud providers including Tencent, Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, IBM SoftLayer, Rackspace public cloud, and Oracle Cloud.

Xen Project is the most reliable and secure hypervisor used for security-critical environments due to its industry-leading security disclosure processes and advanced security features. It‘s also ideal for automotive and embedded systems.

Other advantages include real-time support, flexible architecture, fault tolerance, isolation, security, and maturity. Download Xen Project for Windows or Mac to leverage the best virtualization for your actual needs.


Get the open source, generic machine emulator and virtualizer QEMU for business or personal use. Run operating systems on any architecture or machine it supports.


QEMU provides user-mode emulation to run programs for other BSD/Linux targets on any architecture with the same performance. When using a KVM virtual machine, QEMU can virtualize server, embedded PowerPC, x86, 64-bit and 32-bit ARM, 64-bit POWER, MIPS guests, and S390x.

Use the git repo to stay cutting-edge or download the latest release to enjoy seamless virtualization.


Microsoft introduced Hyper-V on Windows 10 for tech enthusiasts, IT pros, and developers. As many businesses and individuals need multiple operating systems on one computer, Hyper-V lets you run various OS virtually on Windows.

Hyper-V nesting

There‘s no need to purchase extra hardware for this purpose when you have virtual hardware readily available. You can create virtual switches, drives, and devices to add to virtual machines.

By using the virtual OS, you can run old software that requires an older Windows version. Hyper-V makes it simple to create and remove operating systems as needed. You can also run operating systems on a single laptop or desktop.

Hyper-V is available for Education and Enterprise editions but not Home. Whether you want to play games, edit videos, use engineering software, and more, Hyper-V provides the resources you need.

Sign up and start leveraging virtual operating systems to empower your work.


What are the benefits of desktop virtualization for IT companies?

According to vendors, desktop virtualization technology makes it easier for IT companies to manage and provision new desktops. It also helps enforce security policies and push out updates.

What benefits can an individual user get?

Individuals can use it to run various operating systems on their Windows or Mac. They also get hosted desktop access from any location and device.

What are the main types of desktop virtualization?

The three popular forms are:

  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
  • Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS)


Whether for personal or business use, you have many options for virtualization with open source, free, and commercial software. For flexibility, scalability, and agility with a virtual desktop, use the solutions in this guide that fit your preferences and needs. Desktop virtualization helps you save resources, time, and money.

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