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Number 5 is alive! VirtualBox the fifth debuts

There's not many product categories in which improved drag and drop still matters

After a swift beta process, Oracle's VirtualBox desktop hypervisor has reached its fifth edition.

VirtualBox's fourth iteration emerged in 2010, so in April Oracle decided it was due for some proper attention. That decision resulted in four betas and three release candidates emerging in short order, before Thursday saw the new full version emerge to a waiting world.

The product appears not to have accrued significant new features during its brief beta period, leaving the headline features as:

  • Paravirtualization Support for Windows and Linux Guests: Significantly improves guest OS performance by leveraging built-in virtualization support on operating systems such as Oracle Linux 7 and Microsoft Windows 7 and newer.
  • Improved CPU Utilization: Exposes a broader set of CPU instructions to the guest OS, enabling applications to make use of the latest hardware instruction sets for maximum performance.
  • Support of USB 3.0 Devices: Guest operating systems can directly recognize USB 3.0 devices and operate at full 3.0 speeds. The guest OS can be configured to support USB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0.
  • Bi-Directional Drag and Drop Support for Windows: On all host platforms, Windows, Linux and Oracle Solaris guests now support “drag and drop” of content between the host and the guest. The drag and drop feature transparently allows copying or opening of files, directories, and more.
  • Disk Image Encryption: Data can be encrypted on virtual hard disk images transparently during runtime, using the industry standard AES algorithm with up to 256 bit data encryption keys (DEK). This helps ensure data is secure and encrypted at all times, whether the VM is sitting unused on a developer's machine or server, or actively in use.

Nice additions all, and doubtless welcome by developers, sysadmins and hobbyists alike, but nothing that will spark a desktop hypervisor arms race. Not that anyone has an appetite for that kind of thing. VMware has signalled it's doing something to its Workstation and Fusion products that is worthy of a naming convention refresh (although it needs to sort out security, too) and Parallels enjoys giving Windows-tolerant Mac users an alternative to BootCamp. VirtualBox 5 is therefore a welcome refresh of a useful tool, rather than Oracle sending a shot across anyone's bows.

Go get yours, here. ®

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