Friday, September 30, 2011

Parallels Desktop: Virtualization Software Review

Parallels Desktop offers a unique virtualization option for Mac users interested in running Windows and PC based software.
Some Mac users are perfectly content running Mac only software, even if the selection is sometimes limited. Others however, don’t have the luxury of overlooking PC software especially when concerning business or commercial opportunities. It can be hard to find alternatives to some of the better PC applications, and it can even be difficult to find Mac compatible software that performs similar functions or features.
Parallels Desktop can change all that by allowing users to run Windows and PC based software on any Mac. With Parallels Desktop there is no need to worry about what operating system software will natively work on. Even Windows users who have been afraid to make the switch to Mac computers can now do so without the added fear of losing their favorite software options.

Parallels Desktop is a unique type of virtualization software that works quite similar to remote desktop software like GoToMyPC (for more information check out our GoToMyPC review).  One of the best features of Parallels Desktop is the seamless integration between Mac OS X and Windows operating system desktops. Basically when the Parallels Desktop software is running, both a Windows and Mac desktop appear on screen and the user can swap between the two with what the official site claims to be “no compromise in performance”.

Parallels Desktop allows Windows and PC titles to be run in their native environment and works with many types of software including, but not limited to, graphic intensive games, graphic design software, business applications, word processing suites, and many more.
VMWare Fusion is the number one competitor for Parallels Desktop, which is basically a very similar application that allows Mac users to run Windows and PC software on any Mac OS device. But there are indeed several reasons why Parallels Desktop is far superior. Parallels Desktop performs much faster, includes a longer list of compatible software and of course looks fantastic!
Features are great, product descriptions are wonderful and blank promises keep hopes quite high, but the simple question still remains: is Parallels Desktop worth using and worth a purchase?

Parallels Desktop Review

The Parallels Desktop is moderately demanding on system resources, which means older hardware will run the software sluggishly. The minimum system requirements are as follows: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, a 1.66GHz Intel processor or faster, at least 1GB of RAM and 15GB or more of free storage space for each virtual machine. But to really experience the true potential of Parallels, users will want to run the software on a machine with at least 2GB of RAM and a 2GHZ multi-core processor; even more power is better.
From a visual standpoint, the Parallels Desktop looks and works fantastic on Mac computers. In fact, one of the coolest, and most polished features of Parallels Desktop is the visual integration of virtual machines with Max OS X. PC and Windows only applications can run directly inside an OS X window, which blends the entire environment into the native operating system. Additional integration features include the Windows Start Menu, and Windows taskbar being accessible through the Mac OS X menu bar and Windows programs can also be launched directly via the OS X Dock.

Users also have the option to view the PC windows in their own native visual aesthetics, and can even take advantage of Windows 7 stylish Aero glass feature.

Unfortunately the visual aesthetics aren’t featured when running an Ubuntu virtual machine, which means Linux windows still look like Linux windows. Ubuntu windows however can be packed to fit into a single window or they can be viewed individually from a full screen perspective, all depending on the user’s preference.
In addition Windows and PC based software do have complete read/write access to all Mac files, which means the virtual machines play nice with the native OS X operating system. This feature also ensures there’s no reason to fret about file formats and tinker with file conversion software.
It’s clearly evident that ease of use is a big focus with the Parallels Desktop software, because it’s quite easy to start up and operate in a virtual machine. Even the average consumer will have a simple time running Windows software via a Mac computer. There is support for running multiple virtual machines simultaneously, and it works without any added hindrances provided the native computer in question has enough resources.


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