Mac: Version 9 of Parallels, one of our favourite virtualisation solutions for running Windows applications in Mac environments, becomes available from today. Here's what's new, what it costs and where to buy it.
One of the more notable improvements in Parallels Desktop 9 is better support for cloud environments. For instance, if you set up Dropbox under Mac OS X, you can access the same Dropbox within Windows. (This also works for Google Drive, iCloud and SkyDrive.)
You can use the Mac's three-finger dictionary lookup gesture within Windows apps and print files to PDF for access on your Mac. Windows 8 running under Parallels adds a Start button (Windows 8.1, which already includes one, is also supported), and Modern apps can run in individual windows rather than full screen. Parallels will support the forthcoming Mavericks Mac OS X upgrade when that is released later this year, and claims general performance improvements.
Existing Parallels users can upgrade from today (29 August) on the Parallels web site. Upgrades cost $54.95. If you have purchased Parallels 8 on 15 August or later this year, you can upgrade for free.
The full version will go on sale on the site and through retailers (including JB Hi-Fi, Dick Smith, Apple stores and Harvey Norman) from 5 September. The full version costs $89.95, or $54.95 for students. The frugal-minded will doubtless stick to Boot Camp, but the flexibility of Parallels makes it a much better choice if you need to regularly work with Windows apps on a Mac. (If you need to deploy across a large group of machines, an enterprise edition and a System Center plug-in are also available.)