Virtualization is a broad term used to describe the use of virtual hardware. This can be to install an operating system or emulator, or to run a software that would not otherwise be compatible with an OS.
In computing, virtualization or virtualisation (sometimes abbreviated v12n, a numeronym) is the act of creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something at the same abstraction level, including virtual computer hardware platforms, storage devices, and computer network resources.
Virtualization began in the 1960s, as a method of logically dividing the system resources provided by mainframe computers between different applications. An early and successful example is IBM CP/CMS. The control program CP provided each user with a simulated stand-alone System/360 computer. Since then, the meaning of the term has broadened.