Home Virtualization Parallels releases Desktop 4.0

Parallels releases Desktop 4.0

by Philip Sellers

I was an early adopter for the Intel Mac phenom.  Parallels was much faster to market with their Mac virtualization product and so I have been a loyal user of Parallels Desktop since it was introduced.  I have tried VMware Fusion and I’m fond of the product, but Apples to Apples (pun intended), the softwares seem very similar and I think the competition between the two companies is a wonderful thing for me, the consumer.

Today I purchased my upgrade to version 4.0 of Parallels Desktop and I’m still in process of installing and upgrading my virtual machine.  I won’t say the install is painful – its very elegent and Mac like, but it has taken a couple hours now and I’m not finished yet…  The install was fast enough and I do immediately like the interface changes that I see presented before me.  I think Parallels has done a good job of making this new version very Mac-like.

The conversion process from the version 3.0 to 4.0 virtual machine has been a little painful – only in the sense of anticipation in running the VM.  This release is touted as 50% faster than the prior version and I’ve often bragged that Parallels runs Windows XP better than any Windows only machine I’ve ever encountered.  So to say this version is 50% faster, I’ve simply gotta see to believe.

Given that this conversion process is time consuming (my VM is approximately 25G), Parallels has smartly given me a “Take this time to learn about our newest features” overview of their changes.  One, I immediately noticed was the ability to virtualize Mac OS X on Mac OS X.  This is going to be a fun one to play with… now I just have to get into the Snow Leopard BETA program…

Other new features include Modality (a new view – not really sure what it actually is), improved Coherence, Safe Mode (a read-only mode for VMs – something VMware has had for a long time in their products), an iPhone interface to start and stop and otherwise control VMs (neat, but what’s it really worth?), and improved graphics support.  Coherence was one of the biggest new features I loved about this product.  VMware Fusion followed suit with their Unity feature and I think the ability to run Windows windows beside Mac apps seamlessly is great.  As far as improvements, the system tray from Windows has been integrated into the Mac OS X menu bar, which is good.  I think this will allow users to hide the nasty start bar when in Coherence.

I try and keep tabs on both products, but I have to confess – I’m a VMware user at work, Parallels at home.

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