Review: Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

Review: Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

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* Giveaway: Scroll to the bottom for a chance to win a free copy of Parallels Desktop 7 from MacTrast!

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Parallels Desktop for Mac has been around as long as my first Intel powered Mac. I purchased Parallels Desktop (I believe it was version 3) on the same receipt as my first Mac. It was a black MacBook, and I was in love. But, my old relationship with Windows still had a hold on me. If not on my heart, then on my pocketbook. I had numerous applications I used with Windows, and even though many of them had versions for Mac, or there were equally good apps that would run under Mac, my billfold wouldn’t allow that for awhile, so I tried Parallels Desktop.

Overview

For those unfamiliar with Parallels Desktop 7, it’s an application you can run on your Mac that will allow you to run Windows and various other operating systems side by side with your Mac applications. (You will need an installation package and a valid license to install and run any Operating Systems inside Parallels Desktop.) It can be set up to run full screen or in a window, and can also run in what Parallels calls “Coherence” mode, where the Windows apps appear on your desktop just as native Mac apps would.

Operation

While Parallels Desktop has always done a satisfactory job running Windows and its applications, they have found ways in each update to improve the integration and performance of the application. Here are a few of the new features in version 7.

  • Launchpad support in Lion.
  • Full screen support in Lion.
  • Windows hard drive now shows up on the OS X desktop.
  • Parallels Wizard makes it easier to setup a new virtual machine.
  • You can now purchase Windows 7 from within the Parallels Wizard.
  • You can now download virtual machines from within the wizard. Available VMs include Fedora, Chrome, and Ubuntu. I even installed a preview version of Windows 8 thru the wizard.
  • There is a new version of Parallels Mobile. It now allows access of the VMs from an iPad.
  • Seamless printer access, cut, copy and paste is improved.
  • Now has the ability to use your Mac’s iSight camera in Windows.
  • Improved look and feel for the built-in help system.

For the purposes of this review, I downloaded and installed the Fedora 15 VM that’s available through the wizard. It took less than 15 minutes to download, extract, and install the VM.

All of this was done automatically by the wizard. When it was finished, the Fedora showed up in the list of available VM’s, and with a single click, I was using a Fedora 15 machine. Most users will probably be using Parallels Desktop 7 to run a virtual Windows machine, but it’s great to have the option of running other Intel based operating Systems on your Mac.

Once your virtual machine is installed and setup to your satisfaction, you’ll find its performance is near that of the OS running on an actual PC. Disk access, application speed, and graphic performance is more than satisfactory. I’m not sure I would run any graphically intensive games that have been recently released for the PC on the VM, but for day to day business and productivity apps the VMs provide more than adequate performance.

I had previously purchased the iOS Parallels app, and updated it for this review. The app works smoothly, and allows you to remotely access your Mac, and the virtual machines running on your Mac. It’s a bit of a pain to use a mouse based OS with a touch device, but if you need to remotely access your Mac and its virtual machines, it more than does the job.

Verdict

Parallels Desktop 7 is worth the update, especially for Mac OS X Lion users, and the improved performance and ease of use is well worth the price. The integration with Lion makes using your virtual machines alongside your Lion desktop easier than ever.

If you’re a new Mac user, and you still need to have access to the world of Windows, Parallels Desktop 7 is a great solution, allowing you to move into the world of Mac, while still being able to run any Windows apps you’re still in need of.

Price: $79.99 Full Version, $49.99 Upgrade Version (From Parallels Desktop version 5 or 6). Both versions available online from the Parallels website.
iOS version available on the App Store ($4.99 for a limited time, Standard price will be $19.99 –  App Store Link)

Rating: 4/5[rating:4]

Pros

  • Virtual machines are easy to install, and they install quickly when using the Wizard.
  • Integration with OS X is better than ever, especially with Lion.
  • Remote Control of your Mac and your Virtual Machines.
  • Performance of the virtual machines has improved each version.

Cons

  • A discount on Windows 7 would be nice when buying it through the Wizard.
  • Installation of Parallels Tools on some of the Linux Based VMs would hang.

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Giveaway

Parallels is a fantastic piece of software, and every Mac user should have the chance to try it out. As such, we’re giving away a copy of Parallels Desktop 7 to one of you, our fantastic readers!

To enter the giveaway, simply post the following message on Twitter:

Enter to win a Copy of Parallels Desktop 7 from @MacTrast and @ParallelsMac! Details: http://mctr.st/z3MFaB #MTParallels

To be eligible to win, you must follow @MacTrast and RT the message. The giveaway will run through today and tomorrow, and a winner will be announced on this post  on Wednesday morning. Location doesn’t matter – we can send your prize anywhere in the world!

Good luck!

Winner!

Congratulations to @felicia, the winner of our Parallels Desktop 7 giveaway! Didn’t win? No worries – there’ll be plenty of giveaways coming in the near future!

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  1. Bob says:

    I really like parallels but use it, VMware and virtualbox.

    I find that parallels has the best seamless mode (coherence) but VMware seems to work better in windowed mode.

    I spend 90% of my vm work in parallels and 10% in the others

  2. Aidan Taylor says:

    Looks like everyone needs windows.

  3. Linux Newbie says:

    Highly recommend the bundle from http://www.macsuperbundle.com/ for $49 that includes Parallels Desktop 7. How these guy’s can offer all of the software they’re offering for such a little amount I’m not sure. Was going to pay significantly more to upgrade the previous version of Parallels that I’d been using.

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