Personable.com has launched an online virtual-desktop, that lets Macs use Windows software.

Personable.com claims to be the Net’s first application service provider (ASP). For a set monthly fee, software such as Microsoft Office 2000 can be used over the Web.

The service is a step towards "dummy terminals", where little software is stored on a PC, but instead shared over a network or the Web. Software manufacturers claim this will reduce fraud and boost profits.

International users are currently unable to rent any of Personable.com’s monthly fee-based software. However, they can still sign up to access free and shareware applications, such as games and educational software.

US customers are given unlimited access to use an application for a minimum rental period of one month, after which they can remove the software.

Personable.com also offers 10MB of online storage space for saving work.

Various service packages are offered to corporate and individual clients – such as standard, small business, professional and premium subscriptions.

Macintosh users need Mac OS 8.5.1 or later, with Internet Explorer 4.5 or higher, and version 2.2 of the Macintosh Runtime Java (MRJ). MRJ can be downloaded fromApple.