I've mentioned virtual computers before here on Ghacks, and discovered a nice program that you can use to virtualize applications that are running on your system. The Altiris Software Virtualization Solution lets you install every kind of software in a protected environment that prevents the software from accessing other applications, or files of the Windows operating system. This is great if you want to try out some new alpha / beta software, or software that you are suspicious about, as it protects your system from potential issues, attacks or malicious code.
The software is free for personal use and can be setup with ease. What the software does is the following: it creates a layer for the software that you want to install, and emulates the surrounding operating system. Software that you install in the layer can only communicate inside the layer and not affect the underlying operating system in any way.
Update: Symantec has bought Altiris and integrated the company's product line into its own software lineup. The program is now know as Symantec Software Virtualization Solution (SVS). Information about the products are still available on the Symantec website. A free version is unfortunately no longer offered by Symantec.
Update 2: The product's name has been changed again to Symantec Endpoint Virtualization Suite. The program is only offered to small business and enterprise customers of Symantec. Key features of the program are application virtualization, on-demand application streaming, desktop connection brokering and data-on-demand services.
Desktop users looking for alternatives can take a look at Sandboxie or Returnil for functionality that is similar to that of the Altiris' Software Virtualization Solution. Both alternatives are commercial as well, but well worth the money if you are testing software or deployments regularly on computer systems.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.