Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
In the wake of Apple’s transition to Intel chips in 2006, the longtime question “Mac or PC?” soon became “What’s the best way for me to run Windows on a Mac?” Virtualization specialists Parallels and VMware have been duking it out ever since with their respective Desktop and Fusion products, which are both capable of running Windows inside OS X without rebooting -- a key limitation of Apple’s free Boot Camp solution.
The seriously impressive Parallels Desktop 7 is a streamlined solution for running most flavors of Windows and other common operating systems in a “virtual machine” (VM). If you already own a copy of Windows, Parallels will happily install it from DVD or image file into a VM, or you can purchase and download Windows 7 right from inside the app -- a convenience you’ll (sadly) still pay full price for. The new Parallels Wizard makes it a snap to migrate from a Windows PC (via USB) or install Linux, Chrome OS or even OS X Lion itself.
One little screen makes all the difference when it comes to installing a virtual machine with Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac.
Speaking of the big cat, OS X Lion makes Parallels Desktop 7 roar with support for Mission Control, full-screen, animation, Windows apps alongside Mac apps in Launchpad, and, yes, the ability to run a second instance of Lion -- but only on 10.7 systems, where Parallels taps into Apple’s built-in recovery partition for quick, pain-free installation.
OS X Lion users can even run the big cat inside a VM, perfect for developer testing or keeping apps sandboxed in their own OS.
Parallels Desktop 7 touts seamless recognition of Mac printers and cameras, so we installed the latest version of Skype under a Windows 7 VM to put those claims to the test. Not only was our 27-inch iMac camera immediately recognized, but the guest OS also took advantage of iGlasses 3.0, a $19.95 Mac app for tweaking the image coming into an iSight or FaceTime HD camera. Likewise, printing to an HP LaserJet 2605dn worked effortlessly without installing drivers on the Windows side.
As always, Parallels Desktop 7 plays nice with Microsoft operating systems, from MS-DOS 6.22 all the way up to Windows 7 and even the Metro-loving Windows 8 Developer Preview (with a few small caveats, since it’s too new for Parallels to fully support at this writing). The new version is fast -- our Windows 7 Boot Camp (which we set up to also run as a VM in Parallels) booted up in 54 seconds, while a stock install of Windows 8 launched in under 30 seconds.
Parallels Desktop 7 is the perfect way to test new operating systems like Windows 8 Developer Preview.
Parallels can now use up to 1GB of video memory for graphics applications that might have bogged down virtualization in the past, and Windows gamers will be particularly thrilled with Parallels Desktop 7’s support for high-quality audio up to 192KHz, 7.1 surround sound (available through USB or FireWire interfaces), and enhanced 3D graphics for compatibility with modern games.
Finally, iOS users also benefit from an overhauled universal Parallels Mobile app ($4.99 for a limited time) that’s capable of accessing a VM over any 3G or Wi-Fi connection with audio and copy & paste support. The iOS app also now allows access to your Mac -- though sadly, without audio.
The bottom line. While Parallels and VMware will continue to spar for the foreseeable future over whose software has the best performance, it’s hard to imagine topping the terrific Parallels Desktop 7 when it comes to installation, sheer ease of use, and tight Mac integration. The new Parallels Wizard alone is worth the price of admission. OS X Lion users getting the most bang for the buck, and the feature-rich iOS app as the icing on the cake.
Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac 7.0.14922
Mac OS 10.5.8 or later (OS X Lion included). Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon processor. Minimum 1GB memory (2GB recommended). 500GB disk space for installation, 15GB disk space for each virtual machine.
Wizard makes it easier than ever to get started, even for novice users. Seamlessly runs Windows alongside Mac OS X. Simple to migrate from PC to Mac. Complete OS X Lion support.
No discount on Windows 7 when buying downloadable version. Can’t use Snow Leopard 10.6 as a VM (only possible with expensive Server edition). Parallels Mobile iOS app no longer free. OS X Lion guest OS requires Lion.