Review: Get the best of both worlds with Parallels virtual PC software

We review the latest version of Parallels Desktop and assess some of the improvements that Mac users can take advantage of when running Microsoft in a business setting

There was once a world where you were either a Mac user or a PC person, and there was a divide between the two that meant it became very difficult to collaborate across two islands using different operating systems (OS). 

But products emerged that could provide Mac users with the chance to install a virtual PC on their machines, giving them the ability to run Microsoft’s operating system and take advantage of all those applications that had previously been off-limits. 

Parallels is now offering the ninth version of its desktop product and is still meeting the needs of users, particularly in a business setting, that wish to reach out from a single platform and use a mix of applications. 

As you would expect with a new version there are improvements. Performance is faster, with shutdown 25% quicker than before and crucially 3D graphics and web browsing 15% speedier than the previous version. 

Parallels has also made some changes to accommodate the latest OS moves by Apple, with support for Mavericks, as well as Windows 8.1, although the lack of touchscreen functionality means it will have a Windows 7 look. 

System requirements mean a user has to have a Mac with OS X v.10.6.4 or later; an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor; 4GB memory; and 15GB hard disk for each virtual machine. 

The vendor has also rolled out its Parallels Access iPad app that comes free for the first six months to subscribers of its latest Desktop product to enable tablet users to try a mixed Mac and Windows environment. 

In terms of user experience, anyone who has ever used Parallels before will be instantly familiar with the way things work – the hopping between desktop environments and the setting up of virtual machines – but even for a first-timer the software is fairly straightforward. 

Parallels has been doing this for years now and for Mac users looking to have a dual platform it is hard to find a virtualisation software package that can match it for ease of use and performance.

This was first published in March 2014



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