Updates to Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac virtualization product offers more CPU and RAM capacity, and the ability to run Microsoft Windows 7. With the new capabilities, Parallels keeps pace with VMware Fusion and Sun VirtualBox for OS X in the competition to run virtual machines on Apple hardware.
The Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac update adds the ability to run
Windows 7, but it can't pull ahead of VMware Fusion or Sun
Microsystems' VirtualBox for OS X hosts in the tight race to run
virtual machines on Apple equipment.
Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac
VMware Fusion both list for $79.99, while Sun's VirtualBox for OS X
hosts is a no-cost download. If price is your primary evaluation
factor, the choice is clear. However, if your development or daily-use
needs require that you easily move files between Mac and Windows
applications-or your workloads contend for physical host resources-then
Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMware Fusion should go to the top of your
I tested Parallels
on a Mac mini with the minimum required Intel Core Duo, 1.66GHz
processor, and on a Mac Pro with two dual-core Intel Xeon 2.66 GHz
processors and an Nvidia GeForce 7300GT graphics adapter with 256 MB of
New in this point version of Parallels Desktop of Mac, which was
released Jan. 19, is the ability of VMs to use up 256 MB of RAM on the
Also new is the ability of VMs to utilize up to eight CPU cores and
a maximum of 8 GB of RAM. I was able to assign all four of the CPU
cores on my Mac Pro to VMs running in Parallels for Mac. Applications
responded in a snap.
For an eWEEK Labs walk-through of Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac, click here.
The Parallels Adaptive Hypervisor takes on greater importance given
the greater CPU and RAM capacity that is available for VMs. By enabling
the Adaptive Hypervisor option, I was able to let Parallels for Mac
automatically allocate the host CPU resources between my VMs and the
Mac OS X applications depending on which application I was using at the
moment. For example, while running Microsoft Outlook in a Windows XP VM
and working on a video file on the Mac Pro using Final Cut Pro 5.1, the
CPU resources were shifted to the more processor-intensive graphics
Parallels for Mac is simple to use. Parallel Tools, which provide
mouse integration, and Parallels Coherence, which allowed me to easily
move between the Mac OS X environment on the physical host and the
Windows applications installed in a virtual machine, are intuitive to
use. Adding guest controls-whether in VMware Fusion or Sun
VirtualBox-can be a bit of a chore. My tests showed that Parallels has
(correctly) assumed that the user wants enhanced mouse and file
integration features and made the installation of these almost an
automatic part of the virtual machine creation wizard.
I installed Microsoft Office:mac 2008 on my physical Mac hosts and
Office Professional 2007 for Windows on a VM running Windows XP SP3.
After starting both applications, I could cut and paste heavily
formatted text between the two applications with no loss of fidelity
and no additional keystrokes beyond those normally associated with this
action. New in this version of Parallels for Mac, I was able to use
Windows Explorer to browse to a saved Word document in my Windows VM
and drag the file to Word 2008 for Mac that was in the Dock on my
This behind-the-scenes integration of products that are running in
different hosts is a convenient feature that competitors will find hard
Even so, it's clear that Parallels and VMware are locked in a
competitive struggle that can play to the advantage of cost-conscious
developers or IT managers working in smaller shops. One manifestation
of this is that Parallels for Mac now nicely integrates security tools
from Kaspersky Labs (the first year of the subscription is provided in
the cost of the Parallels license) and back up and data management
tools from Acronis, also included in the Parallels license
Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.