Parallels Readies Next Desktop for Mac and Windows Virtualization

Parallels is preparing to release the 4.0 version of its Desktop for Mac virtualization software, which will add several new features to its existing virtualization software for Apple's Macintosh, including the ability to handle four-way SMP along with support for 16 NICs per virtual machine. Parallels, which is competing against VMware's Fusion product for the Mac, has also added more security features plus enhanced ways to take snapshots of virtual machines and rollback features.

Parallels is looking to make running Microsoft Windows and other operating systems on the Apple Mac easier with the release of the latest version of its Desktop for Mac virtualization software.

The release of the 4.0 version of Parallels' Desktop for Mac on Nov. 11 comes a few months after VMware released the latest version of its Fusion software, which allows Windows and Linux operating systems to run along side the Mac OS X. The Parallels Desktop for Mac software, which is now available, retails for $79.99.

While virtualization technology traditionally has been used by consumers for their Macs, the technology is increasingly important in the enterprise as more and more Macs are finding their way into boardrooms and corner offices.

In this release, Parallels has included new features specifically designed for IT managers. For example, the new release of Parallels' software allows as many as 16 NICs (network interface cards) to work with each virtual machine. The software also allows an IT manager to boot a guest OS off the company's network.

In addition, Parallels has included support for Mac OS X Server 10.5 Leopard and experimental support for the upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard as guest operating systems in virtual machines. Parallels is also offering Windows Server 2008 and 2003 support.

In this latest version of virtualization software for the Mac, Parallels has expanded the virtualization software's ability to handle 64-bit guest operating systems. In addition, Parallels has added the ability to support four-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) within each virtual machine, which allows the hardware to handle heavier workloads even in a virtual environment.

Parallels can support experimental eight-way SMP in the 4.0 release.

The new Desktop for Mac release also supports 8GB of RAM within each virtual machine.

One area where Parallels has tried to make significant strides is reducing the CPU resources needed when running virtual machines on the Mac. With the new release, Parallels reduces CPU resource use between 15 and 30 percent, depending on how many virtual machines a Mac is running at any given time.

For graphics, Parallels now supports Microsoft's DirectX 9 as well as OpenGL 2.0. On the security side, Parallels is partnering with Kaspersky to provide different tools and a feature called SmartGuard, which can take snapshots of virtual machines every hour.

In the 4.0 version, Parallels has also made a number of improvements to the ability to move back and forth between the Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.

These include a clip function, Clips, where users can share screen shots across Windows and the Mac without having to save them to the desktop first. The company also included a feature called Smart Connect, which keeps a user's USB device connection preferences intact. Plus, there is a modality feature that allows a user to view different virtual machines in a single monitor.