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.