Dell's Chief Technology Officer Kevin Kettler announced the PC maker is working on desktop PCs that utilize virtualization to run multiple versions of Windows and Linux at the same time.
This will offer users more flexibility and better security:
One virtual machine might run Windows Vista and handle every day computing tasks, while another could be used only to browse the Internet, limiting any security threats to the parameters of the virtual machine -- which could be deleted.
A third virtual machine might run a version of Linux that is compatible with programs on the user's work computer. And a fourth virtual machine might run Windows XP software that is not compatible with the Windows Vista machine.
Such PCs could go on sale as early as next year, Kettler said in an interview by telephone while attending the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco.
He declined to say whether the machines will be able to run Apple Inc's OS X software designed for its Macintosh computers, whose sales are growing faster than the overall PC market.
"I can't speculate on that," Kettler said. "Virtualization is very powerful. It's an environment that would allow many different operating systems to co-exist. You can interpret that however you would like."