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Parallels Desktop 10 Review

    Parallels Desktop for Mac is a programme which lets you run Windows, or other OS’ on your Mac. As its name suggests, it’s been through several generations and has become a mainstay for mac users needing to still run Windows programmes such as myself, who uses Sage accounting software.

    Whilst at IFA in Berlin last month, I got a chance to sit down with Nick Dobrovolskiy, Vice President of Desktop Virtualisation at Parallels, and the chief architect behind their latest software. He gave me a guided tour of the latest version of Parallels Desktop, and I’ve been playing with it for the last few weeks. So what is it like?

Installation

Once you’ve installed the programme on your mac, it opens Parallels Wizard, which gives you gives you a variety of options to install your Virtual Desktop. You can either install Windows from a DVD or ISO image, migrate a whole PC, use an existing Windows machine from within Apple’s Bootcamp, or download and install a free OS such as Ubuntu, Chrome OS, Android or even create another OSX machine.

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Installation is painless, although a free copy of Windows is no longer included, so you’ll have to supply your own disc/image and product key.

Once you’ve installed Windows (I’ll only talk about this in this review), it then asks you how you intend to primarily use your virtual machine, and it will adapt what hardware resources are needed accordingly. It is worth noting, that this decision isn’t final, and you can flip between profiles. You can also manually adjust the settings, but that’s far too geeky for someone like me!

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Using Parallels Desktop 10

Apple has made a big fuss about Continuity between OSX Yosemite and iOS 8. Parallels have taken this much further, with Coherence Mode, and for the first time, I find myself saying that switching between OSX and Windows is seamless. For example, you can pin Windows programmes to your dock, or launch them from your LaunchPad, but things do go much further than that.

One of the key features of Yosemite is the ability to click on a phone number and call it on your computer (via your iPhone). You can right click on a number whilst in Windows and achieve that! Not only that, buy you can right click and come up with a whole load of options which integrate tightly with OSX. I can share link via social media, I can upload files to cloud drives already set up on my Mac, such as Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive. I can save pictures into iPhoto.

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Something else which amazes me is that the file structure of Explorer integrates with Finder. Save a file in My Documents in Windows, and you can see it in Finder’s Documents folder. I’m no longer having to search which folder I saved files in, and whether I was working on a virtual machine or not at the time. You can also select the default app to open files in finder to be either a OSX or Windows programme. Using this is really seamless and I no longer have to think about which OS I need to use for each purpose. And just in case I’m having problems downloading a webpage in Safari, I now have the option to try downloading the page in Internet Explorer.

NFTS drives can also be an issue for Mac users as they can only read the files, but not write onto the drives. Parallels Desktop again makes this painless, and you can now read and write onto these drives.

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Another nice trick, is that touchpad gestures used in OSX, also work in Windows. It really is that seamless.

What I find most amazing about all this new functionality is that it uses less resources from your Mac that previous versions. Parallels claim that snapshots work up to 60% faster and MacBook users will be pleased to hear that battery life is improved by 30%.

Summary

You may have gathered that I’m completely blown away by this software. I’ve found switching between OS’ is no longer any effort. I no longer need to think what I’ve done where, and think what I can do in which OS. In many ways, this makes Windows better! I really do feel that I’m having my cake and eating it.

For anyone who needs to run Windows only programmes, scared of migrating from a PC to a Mac, experiment with virtual computers and know that the host computer is always safe, or wants a greater choice of PC games, the £65 asking price is a no brainer (£35 for upgrades). I find I no longer need a Windows PC next to me, and can do everything on my MacBook Pro.

If you’d like more information, here’s a helpful video from Parallels


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