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Parallels 5: Faster, more Mac-like

updated 03:00 am EST, Wed November 4, 2009

Crystal mode makes Windows disappear, 300 percent

The Parallels 5 launch marks the latest salvo in the ongoing battle for those who run Windows on their Macs. The virtualization software has been updated with significant interface and speed improvements aimed at keeping the company's market share lead over the recently updated VMware Fusion. The new software adds substantial interface improvements, allowing users to choose how much, or how little, they want to see of the Windows interface. Parallels 5 is faster, while graphics performance has been substantially increased.

Several new features make the Windows environment seem more Mac-like. Horizontal scrolling, Active Corners and Apple trackpad gestures -- including pinch, swipe and rotate -- work with Windows applications. Parallels 5 also includes support for Apple's new Magic Mouse.

Windows applications can be launched from a folder in the Dock or from a pull-down Start menu at the top right corner of the screen. Copy and Paste commands allow users to move formatted text and layouts between Mac, Windows and Linux documents with a high degree of accuracy. Multiple monitor support allows users to run Windows on one screen and Mac OS X on another, or run applications from both operating systems on two screens.

Under the hood, Parallels 5 boasts a 300 percent speed boost for VM operations and up to 7 times faster performance with 3D graphics. Support for Aero in Windows 7 and Vista has also been added. Graphics performance is boosted with added support for Open GL 2.1 and Direct X 9EX with Shader Model 3. Using technology from Intel -- an investor in Parallels -- the software includes support for 8 virtual CPUs, 64-bit Windows and Snow Leopard Server 64-bit.

Parallels Desktop 5 works with Widows 7 and Mac OS 10.4.11 or higher (including Snow Leopard) and is available now for $80.00. The package includes a one-year subscription to Parallels Internet Security by Kapersy, Acronis Disk Director 10.0 and True Image Home 2010 backup software. Current Parallels owners can upgrade for $50. Those who purchased Parallels 4 on or after October 1 are eligible for a free upgrade.

by MacNN Staff



  1. IxOsX

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What about other OS?

    The eternal problem of Parallels is they begin well but end bad. What about other OS... What about updates and stay up to date?

    I Run Parallels since version 3, passthrough version 4, and now I will be quitting to vmware fusion 3 because they support faster and better the new releases of Linux and Unix. And in the Windows support, every time Parallels begin with better specs after a while Vmware is doing the some or better. Parallels have to give much more. So when Parallels begin act like that I will considerate to go back to Parallels, until then...

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Switched couple of years ago

    I switched to Fusion about two years ago... which is really not a fair comparison since BOTH programs have been improved greatly. I like VMWARES support site and ease of use. Parallels was a bit odd to use... but again, they have changed it.

    How about a benchmark test comparing features and performance?

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'd been recently running VMWare Fusion 3

    on my iMac and it's a darn fine product. I have Windows XP installed (BootCamp conversion) and just installed a unactivated copy of Windows 7 Ultimate and they work great. The integration is so smooth and resources are not that demanding. My iMac only has 4GB of internal memory, but that seems sufficient as everything runs very smoothly for normal internet browsing. Flash runs very well, too. I don't think I'm going back to Parallels. VMWare Fusion is good enough. I really enjoy being able to switch from OSX to Windows and back with a minimum amount of hassle. The install process is so easy and Snapshots are a breeze. Virtual machines are terrific in Snow Leopard but then again so is BootCamp XP integration. I may consider switching to Windows 7 in BootCamp when Apple upgrades compatability. I really like the look of Windows 7 and how well it grabs Mac settings and such. Sweet days for computing.

  1. ebeyer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Video RAM?

    What I really want to know is whether I can play Champions Online
    in Parallels. As it stands now, Parallels won't let me allocate near
    enough video memory to run this or any other accelerated graphics
    applications. Has this changed in version 5?

  1. Sabon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Windows XP and Parallels vs Fusion

    Which is better for Windows XP or does it matter? Parallels or Fusion?

    Why XP? Because that is what we use at work and they will not let me use a Mac with VPN software to remotely connect to work and get to my files.

    Since we use XP at work I see no reason to use something else at home since I won't be using it for anything else but VPN anyway.

    Does it matter which I would get, Parallels or Fusion?

  1. derbbre

    Joined: Dec 1969


    CPU Usage

    Main main reason to switch from Parallels (v4) to Fusion (v2) was that Parallels started a slew of background services and each VM used at least 7-10% of my CPU time even when idle. Not to mention pausing and resuming a VM would cause it to lock up. Pleas of help to the support forums remained unanswered for months. Any of these issues straightened out now?

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sounds great, but...

    Is service-oriented customer support still totally missing in action? I didn't switch to Fusion because I was unhappy with Parallels. I switched to Fusion because the company wouldn't supply even a basic level of support for their product.

    The straw that broke the camel's back was when a sales representative told me that if I didn't want to pay for an upgrade on the phone with a credit card, instead of with PayPal on their upgrade server, which had crashed on the day of the upgrade deadline, that I could simply wait for them to restore the server and pay the higher price. At that point, she said she was too busy to talk to discuss it further and hung up on me. I bought Fusion the next day and haven't looked back since.

    I'd rather have good service and an ever-so-slightly slower product, rather than minor speed improvements and surly rudeness and neglect. Besides, to the best of my knowledge VMWare is a wholly owned American company, which Parallels is not. Given the state of our economy, we should all be supporting our own and doing our level best to be staunching the outflow of wealth from this country.

  1. mostundudelike

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Considering the Parallels 4 intro disaster ...

    ... it will be interesting to see how many adopters there are for the initial version. Parallels 4 messed up my system so bad I had to go to backups of version 3.

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