Apple has released its latest Boot Camp 1.2 beta, delivering support for 32-bit versions of Windows Vista.

Boot Camp is Apple software that lets users run Windows in a separate partition on their Intel-based Mac.

The latest version of the software, which is available now for free use and testing and will be released as part of the company's forthcoming Mac OS X 10.5, "Leopard", also contains several additional important updates.

But it's the introduction of Windows Vista support which seems set to cause the most debate – a Digitimes report last week speculated that Apple would delay the release of Leopard while it implemented Vista support in Boot Camp. That reason could be construed as no longer significant.

The new Boot Camp software also incudes a seletion of updated drivers, for the trackpad, AppleTime (synch), audio, graphics, modem and the iSight camera.

Boot Camp also now offers support for the Apple Remote, which now works both with iTunes and Windows Media Player. Documentation and online help have also been improved.

Additional features include a Windows system tray icon for easy access to Boot Camp information and actions; improved keyboard support  for Korean, Chinese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Russian, and French Canadian; and an "improved Windows driver installation experience."

Apple explains that users can update their existing version of Boot Camp to version 1.2, "easily.

"You don't need to partition your hard drive again (unless you want to change its size) or reinstall your Macintosh and Windows software or documents, but it's very important to update the Boot Camp Assistant software, create a new Mac Drivers CD and install the updated software it contains onto Windows," the company warns.

Speaking in January, Apple executives confirmed over 1.5 million downloads of Boot Camp have been recorded so far.