For months, Apple's embrace of Intel has continued unabated, with all the product line now "Intel only".

Most observers predicted this move would be a catalyst for bringing the worlds of Microsoft and Apple closer together - citing Apple's officially unofficial Boot Camp utility as proof. All true, but there are better options than just booting your Apple hardware as a Windows machine.

Far more interesting than Boot Camp - which requires that you choose between running OS X or a Windows operating system at any given time and requires a reboot once that decision is made - are products that leverage the new Intel instruction set of the Macintosh as well as the raw power and (probably) the virtualisation features of the Intel Core Duo.

Virtualisation is commonplace these days, and even the idea of running a virtual PC on Macintosh has been around for a while. Microsoft has been offering a product by that name for a number of years. But it suffered from at least two major problems.

First, you could run your Microsoft world in its little sandbox but it was often painfully slow. This ultimately may have been because of the underpowered PowerPC G4/G5 it was running on.

Second, it ran only on the PowerPC architecture, so now that OS X is on Intel, one of the applications that will not work is Microsoft's virtual PC offering - and Microsoft has confirmed it will not create an Intel Mac version of Virtual PC.

Not to worry - there are multiple options available to fill the gap left by Microsoft.

Several independent software vendors offer similar products, with Parallels Desktop for Mac being one of the more visible. This version is built for Intel-based Macintoshes, and my own informal use of it has convinced me it is a viable way to implement necessary, Windows-only applications. Its performance levels felt near native - and this from a piece of software that costs $80. Not bad.

Still, the virtual machine approach requires that you own a full Microsoft operating system licence and install and maintain it, all to run one or two programs.

Soon, we'll be able to use CrossOver for Mac to run Windows 32-bit applications without a dedicated virtual machine on the Mac.

Based on the Wine code, this offering provides code that will intercept and handle individual Win32 API calls and translate them as necessary into OS X calls. A version of this for Linux has been available for some time. (Again, this is a package that will be available for under $100.)

While less directly relevant to corporate users, the gaming world is doing its part to nudge things along with the Macintosh.

Cider from TransGaming is a virtualisation environment that lets game developers take their Windows ActiveX 9 games and port them rapidly to OS X. Should this take off, another obstacle to broad acceptance will be removed.

Kevin Tolly is president of The Tolly Group, a strategic consulting and independent testing company.