Parallels Desktop 4 Ships…. Does VMWare Have A Reason To Worry?

If you pay a vist to the Parallels website today, you’ll notice that the latest version of Parallels Desktop has shipped. I’ve been using it for a while and I have some early impressions of the software:

  • It has much better graphics support than version 3.0. I can now run games and apps that use DirectX 9 and OpenGL 2.0. However, I can’t use the Aero interface graphics with Vista. But that’s not a big deal as the last time I checked, VMWare Fusion can’t use Aero either. Besides, I turn off the Vista Aero nonsense as it really doesn’t add to my user experience. I should note that you can allocate more video RAM to the VM (I have mine set to 128MB but you can do more than that) which also helps with graphics performance.
  • There’s a new feature called Adaptive Hypervisor which allows Parallels to load balance between the Mac operating system and a VM. I experimented with this for a bit before turning it off. But while I did have it on, it did make a difference in terms of how the VM and the Mac performed.
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0 supports up to eight CPUs and 8GB RAM to each VM (up from one CPU and 2GB of RAM). That’s great if you have a Mac Pro on your desk and a ton of RAM to spare. I have a MacBook Pro that tops out at 4GB of RAM so that feature doesn’t make a difference for me.
  • It is faster than 3.0 by a big margin. It is now competitive with VMWare Fusion from what I can tell. However VMWare Fusion still has the edge in terms of speed for now though.
  • For those of you who want to run OS X Server, it does that too. I didn’t test that myself as I don’t have a OS X Server license floating around. If anybody else has tested this feature, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
  • There’s 64-bit OS support in this version. I didn’t have the ability to test that though. Perhaps someone who uses this feature will leave a comment.

So does VMWare have a reason to worry? In my opinion, yes. I run Parallels Desktop mostly for the USB support as it has always been better than VMWare Fusion. But I have always wished for more speed because VMWare Fusion absolutely crushed Parallels Desktop 3.0 in terms of speed. This latest release closes the gap. Hopefully future updates will continue to close the gap further.

There’s also a ton of new features that I didn’t touch on. Such as remotely accessing a Windows virtual machine from an iPhone, a “Safe Mode” function that was likely “borrowed” from Microsoft Virtual PC which gives you the option to discard changes to the VM after it is shut down, and automatic snapshots which save the state of the VM at pre-determined intervals. There’s speech recognition in this version as well. Finally it includes 1 year’s worth of Windows Internet security software by Kaspersky and Acronis True Image Home as well as Acronis Disk Director Suite.

So if you’re looking for a way to run Windows on your Mac, take a look at Parallels Desktop 4. It’s a serious contender in this market.

3 Responses to “Parallels Desktop 4 Ships…. Does VMWare Have A Reason To Worry?”

  1. Still can’t use aero?

  2. Nope. No Aero.

  3. So, no need for me to test out that beta then? 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: