Review: Parallels Desktop 7

Frequent readers of this blog know that my choice in terms of visualization products is Parallels Desktop. The software tends to work well and I will be the first to admit that. But I will also be the first to admit that I’ve had problems with them when trying to buy their products using PayPal that clearly haven’t been addressed. Ignoring the latter, the question is, what’s better and what’s worse with the new version of Parallels Desktop?

First it’s faster that Parallels Desktop 6. It’s a difference that you can feel when you boot and when you push a VM. Second, the virtual machines can now use your iSight camera. Nice touch. Third, Parallels Desktop 7 fully leverages Launch Pad, and Mission Control while running Windows apps if you’re running OS X Lion. Another nice touch. Want to run Windows 7, but you don’t own a copy? No problem. You can buy a Windows 7 license and install it into a new VM. Enhancing a feature from Parallels Desktop 6, there’s the ability to run your VMs remotely using a iDevice via their mobile app. The app to do so is in the App Store for $4.99.

Parallels Desktop 7 supports 3D graphics using DirectX9.0c/9Ex and Shader Model 3. It also allows you to add 1GB of video RAM. it also supports 7.1 surround sound. That should mean that this will be great for gamers, right? Not so fast. It doesn’t support DirectX 10, thus some games won’t run. The bottom line, hardcore gamers may have to resort to BootCamp for gaming, Still, it’s worth trying it to see if your game of choice will run.

Parallels desktop supports a ton of OS installations including the preview version of Windows 8 and OS X LIon. Installation of any OS is dead easy which is a hallmark of Parallels Desktop. One thing that I noticed for the first time is that while the iSight is supported and the USB support is as solid as ever, how about the Firewire port on my Mac? Parallels has never seen that and that would be a nice feature to have.

So, the question is do I like it? Yes. But it is more of an evolutionary release rather than a revolutionary release. There’s really nothing here that make existing users rush out and buy this. However, users that are new to Parallels Desktop will like this release. Download a 30 day trial and see if it fits your needs. Just don’t pay with PayPal.

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