Well, after a week of issues with the Parallels Desktop 4.0 upgrade, I trashed my VM that I have lovingly used for the past year and I have started over with a fresh import from the Virutal PC VHD file I keep on hand. See, here is my history with Windows virtualization on the Mac: I purchased a copy of Microsoft Office Professional for the Mac which included Virtual PC. When I got my first Intel Mac, I became a Parallels Desktop Beta user, then purchased the real thing when it was released. I’ve upgraded (paid upgrade, mind you) with each release since.
Virtual PC was a nice first step into the virtual world. It came along at time when I was working for a University and was not in the sys admin world that I find myself today. I found Virtual PC so sluggish and slow that I never was able to really use it. So it collected dust on my hard drive for a year or longer before we purchased our first Intel Mac.
Around the same time as the Intel iMac purchase, Parallels released a beta of their Desktop product. I quickly installed and used this version at home. If memory serves, they did not have the Transporter product at that time and so I was forced to do an install of Windows XP. The quick install for Windows was a great thing.
Fast forward to version 2 release for Desktop and I believe Parallels had added the Transporter feature – maybe that was version 3 – but anyways, that gave me the ability to utilize my actual Virtual PC image. After a successful test, I reinstalled Virtual PC and loaded a fresh XP image. Then I shutdown and saved the VHD file out on my NAS for the future… That future was this week.
After importing my VHD file into Parallels Desktop, the automated upgrade process was very smooth. It took some time, but everything completely successfully. The image is very fast and starting with a clean image isn’t necessary a bad thing with Win-doze. Unfortunately, I lost the few Windows applications that I depend on – Symantec Antivirus, Microsoft Money and the Savings Bond Wizard from the Treasury.
Both Symantec Antivirus and Microsoft Money are electronic delivery products. And while I love the convenience of purchase and instantly download, reinstalls are a major pain. In the 4 or so times I’ve reinstalled Microsoft Money, its always been a major pain to redownload and install the software. So, I’m currently running a 60 day trial license and plan to pickup a box copy at Sam’s Club this weekend or next.
Norton Antivirus was far more of a let down. Their new Norton Account “feature” and license restrictions is a big problem. Granted, I was within a month of my current subscription expiring, but I found that I was unable to unlock and move my copy of Norton Antivirus to the new VM. To that end, I purchased a new copy of the Antivirus at a much higher price point than my yearly upgrade. I do like their subscription model, but the inflexibility of being able to move my copy as I move machines is a major pain. Fortunately, I hope never to have to re-do my image again…
I think Symantec could do a much better job of allowing an unlock at least once a year or at least letting you move your subscription to a different PC. Because of the activation process, they can lock down the Liveupdate process for virus definitions and updates. So even if you leave the old copy running, you wouldn’t receive updates… Anyways, just a pain, in my opinion.
But today, things are settling out. I just upgraded to a brand new MacBook Pro and I have moved my Parallels Desktop 4 from the iMac to the new MacBook Pro and it is working fantastic. I will say that the iMac seemed more sluggish running a Parallels Desktop 4.0 virtual machine configured with 512MB of RAM than the prior version did. Maybe it was just my impression, but I didn’t think it was as fast.
The new version does add a lot of functionality, but it seems to be at the expense of performance – at least footprint – for the software. Running the virtual machine does seem to be faster, though I’d beg to differ with the 50% increase in speed. I will say that Parallels has always impressed me with how well it runs Windows XP. Windows runs better on a Mac and in Parallels Desktop than on any piece of physical hardware I’ve ever run it on… so I’m just saying.