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Parallels ships update, refuses price war w/VMWare

updated 06:20 am EST, Thu January 8, 2009

Parallels raises the bar

The way Serguei Beloussov sees it, a lower price isn't the key to winning over Mac users with its Parallels Desktop virtual machine software. In an interview with MacNN, the CEO said he's now taking a cue from Apple, positioning Parallels as a premium product with improved quality and service. What he says he won't do, is get in a price war with close competitor VMWare Fusion.

Parallels was first to market with Windows-on-Mac software in 2006, more than a year ahead of VMware. But being first has its downside. There were speed issues, bugs and crashes. When VMWare Fusion launched in mid-2007, developers were able to take advantage of VM-assist functions built in to newer Intel processors, leaving Parallels in a catch-up position.

But today, Beloussov claims, those problems are a thing of the past. A completely revamped Parallels 4.0 was launched in November, with the latest technology. Users have since downloaded more than 300,000 copies -- and he says the product is now "undeniably better" than VMWare. Some users apparently didn't agree, however, because the updated product proved difficult to install. As a result, the company released an update this week, with improved setup and several new features.

All this has left Beloussov convinced that the best path to more market share is improving the product and support while adding more features than the competition. Mac users, he says are not as price conscious as their Windows counterparts, and are willing to pay more for a product that works well. Beloussov would not say what improvements are in the pipeline at Parallels -- but he does make it clear the roadmap calls for a vigorous effort to earn and keep the respect of Mac users by delivering a product that simply works.

Released Monday, Parallels 4.0 (Build 3810) adds support for DirectX 9.0 with Shaders Model 2, improved CPU power management for better battery life, and experimental support for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7.

The update also brings s upport for Apple remote disk functions, enabling users to take advantage of the shared CD or DVD drive on another Mac in Windows (or install Windows from a shared CD/DVD on another Mac) as well as two new points of better integration: the ability to start Windows automatically in the background when you open a Windows application on the Mac desktop and the ability to drag Windows files to Mac applications in the Dock (e.g., drag .MP3 files to Mac iTunes to listen to them).

The company also focused on performance improvements with DirectX 9.0 with Shaders Model 2 support and support for Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE4) for better performance in multimedia applications. Finally, it also said that the update offers faster Suspend/Resume operations, so users can start and pause the virtual machine more quickly.

Parallels Desktop 4 requires an Intel Mac running OS X 10.4.11 or 10.5.2 and above. The product costs $80.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Best for windows

    I tried the last versions of VMWare Fusion and Parallels. If you want to run just Windows Virtual Machine, Parallels wins hard. Some installation (used bootcamp installation) with the some software was much more slower on VMWare fusion and much more fluid and fast on Parallels. I can play Civilization IV Colonization perfectly on my Parallels Virtual machine. If is to run a Windows Virtual Machine I recommend Parallels. If is to run just Linux VM, I prefer VMWare Fusion.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just wow..

    Now that is some almost Ballmer-esque arrogance! Lets see, the last 2 versions, Parallels has been trailing VMWare in functionality, stability, and interface. Parallels tech/customer service has been teetering between "terrible" and "completely non-existent", while VMWare steps up to help with (the many fewer) problems that arise with their product.And now, Parallels wants to charge me yet another significant upgrade fee promising that the next version has caught up and works? Sorry, I've paid for Parallels twice now (with the past upgrade fees), and have been nothing but disappointed. I've paid once for VMWare, had 2 free major updates, and it has worked well, and had many added features, and most importantly, great tech support. I'll be sticking with VMWare.(note- my comment was not directed to the "guest" post above, but to the original "story")

  1. makesense

    Joined: Dec 1969


    poor past

    got so tired of their lousy product and even worse their convoluted upgrade licensing, that I gave up Parallels and went Fusion. However, trying the new (2.1) FREE Virtual Box from Sun, and am very impressed. Boot to a Windows OS in seconds.

  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My opinion...

    The latest version of Parallels makes trying to sandbox Windows quite difficult. I don't want all the integration. I don't want to see millions of "open with" options in both Windows and OS X. But, there's no doubt that it's faster than Fusion (at least on my Mac Pro with bootcamp partition).

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Neither product is there to sandbox windows as much as to help integrate windows with your Mac. That's why they integrate Windows stuff into OS X (I double-clicked some office file recently and VMWare started up - go figure).

  1. apple4ever

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What they need to do is invest in a graphic designer. Their icon for the App is absolutely HIDEOUS!

  1. eizzumdm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Price war

    No price war, okay. Um, could they at least get in a price skirmish by offering better upgrade pricing for their existing customer base?

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How about Virtualbox?

    If you want to try another alternative, how about trying virtual box? ( It may not have all the bells and whistles as the aforementioned products, it does main job very well for a decent price (free).

  1. _Rick_V_

    Joined: Dec 1969


    VMware is better

    I basically agree with most of the comments above. I evaluated (i.e. bought) Parallels, VMware, and VirtualBox.
    - VMware has a much more straightforward and intuitive interface (for managing the virtual machines, such as memory and hardware options). If you think Parallels is faster, simply turn on Dual processor support in VMware, then it will magically be just as fast as Parallels (btw, VMware had dual-core support looong before Parallels).

    - I finally gave up on Parallels when they released the version that "tightly integrated" Windows into my Mac. Sorry, I don't want files opening by default in Parallels. I know you can work around this, so that's probably no excuse. But I didn't want to fuss with it. Support for Parallels is also notoriously horrendous (ironic that they think they're going to win on "better support", ha!).

    - VirtualBox is a great alternative, if only because it's free. It's drawback is that it's interface can be a bit confusing, which is especially apparent when setting up a new VM. If you know what you're doing (i.e. you've used both of the above), you can figure it out fairly easily. But if you've never used VM software, it can be definitely confusing.

    Summary; VMware wins all around. VirtualBox is a solid alternative if you don't want to pay out $80 for VMware.

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No Way

    "Ballmer-esque arrogance" indeed. The utter lack of customer support literally drove me away from Parallels. When I last tried to upgrade, their online store servers where swamped and when I called to order by telephone, the "customer support representative" informed me they were too busy to deal with my questions regarding how I could pay for the upgrade via PayPal. They said that since I didn't want to give them a credit card, I could call back the next day and pay the higher price after the upgrade pricing had expired. But wait, the attitude and response only gets better! I wrote a letter about the experience to the corporate headquarters and received -- no response. Nada. At that point, the switch to Fusion was an easy decision. Haven't looked back or regretted it. It may be a little slower, but it's absolutely stress free when dealing with the company.

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