Parallels this morning launched the latest version of their popular virtual machine app: Parallels Desktop 8! The latest version adds a ton of new features, and makes it even easier to run Windows and other operating systems on your Mac.
The new version packs a ton of great new features, such as support for Mountain Lion Dictation support in Windows apps, Retina Display support, a new Presentation mode, USB 3 compatibility, the ability to add Windows notifications to the Mountain Lion Notification Center, the ability to add Windows apps to Launchpad, the use of Mountain Lion gestures in Windows, and more!
One of the coolest aspects of Parallels 8 is that it can now also be run from a USB stick – this makes it extremely easy to take all your virtual machines with you on the go! Here’s a summary of the most significant new features:
– Speak, don’t type – Use the new Mountain Lion Dictation tool across both Windows and Mac environments
– Open in Internet Explorer – When a website doesn’t render well within Safari, launch it in Internet Explorer with a click of a button
– Parallels Wizard – Download and automatically install Windows or other operating systems (OSes) including Google Chrome OS, Ubuntu and Android on your Mac.
– Windows apps on OS X Launchpad – Add Windows applications to the Mountain Lion or Lion Launchpad to quickly launch Mac and Windows applications used most
– Consolidated notifications – Integration of Windows notifications into the Mac OS X Notification Center makes it easy to stay updated on Windows virtual machine operations
– Mountain Lion gestures for Windows apps – Enjoy seamless integration of Mountain Lion gestures with Windows apps such as pinch to zoom, Mission Control, three-finger drag, swipe between full-screen apps, two-finger scroll, Launchpad and rotate
– Retina display support – Enjoy stunning Retina display resolution in Windows OS and Windows applications to see crisper fonts, vivid photos, images and animations
– Improved Parallels Desktop 8 performance – up to 30 percent faster for input/output (I/O) operations, 30 percent faster for games and up to 25 percent faster for virtual machine operations such as boot, suspend, shutdown and resume, when compared to Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac
New features aside (and there are plenty), the app is also significantly faster than Parallels 7, and includes significantly improved performance when gaming or performing processor-intensive tasks in Windows.
Parallels Desktop 8 is available immediately to existing users as a $50 upgrade, and those who purchased Parallels 7 on or after July 25th are eligible to upgrade for free! The app will become available for new users on September 4th, and costs $80 (a $40 student version is also available).
If you’re new to Parallels, I’d highly recommend purchasing Parallels 7 now and taking advantage of the free upgrade – two versions for the price of one! If you already use Parallels 7, click here to buy your discounted upgrade!
After experimenting with the new version, and viewing their press presentation, I can say that this is the most serious upgrade to Parallels that I can recall, and I highly recommend it to new and previous users alike!
Update 9/4/2012: Parallels Desktop 8 now available to purchase for all users