Virtual Machine

A self-contained operating environment that behaves as if it is a separate computer. For example, Java applets run in a Java virtual machine (VM) that has no access to the host operating system. This design has two advantages:

  • System Independence: A Java application will run the same in any Java VM, regardless of the hardware and software underlying the system.
  • Security: Because the VM has no contact with the operating system, there is little possibility of a Java program damaging other files or applications.

The second advantage, however, has a downside. Because programs running in a VM are separate from the operating system, they cannot take advantage of special operating system features.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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