While many of us are happily living a monogamous life when it comes to the operating system we use on our computer, there are times when being able to run another OS is helpful. If you're a Mac user, there are several options for running other operating systems virtually.
One of those options is Parallels. Now in its 14th version, it has adapted and grown through several different versions of Windows and provides a great set of tools for running Windows, another macOS, Linux or just about anything that plays nicely on an X86 processor.
Note: You can currently get Parallels Desktop bundled with 10 free apps valued at over $750 by buying from Parallels direct. Click here!
What Is It?
Parallel Desktop is virtualisation software. It effectively siphons and isolates a block of storage memory so that it can be used to run another operating system inside its own safe space.
For developers, it means they can run multiple test systems with different OSes and software combinations for testing. For office workers, it means you can run personal software in one Virtual machine (VM) in isolation from work systems. And for tinkerers, you can play with different software and operating systems without compromising your main computer.
Installation was straight forward. If you're installing Windows 10, the Installation Assistant makes it easy to download a variety of different operating systems including Windows 10 (you'll need a valid license key to activate it), various Linux distributions of even macOS using your Mac's recovery partition.
I installed Parallels Desktop 14 to a current model MacBook Pro with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 8 GB of 2133 MHz LPDDR3 RAM. For anyone doing serious work, I'd suggest more RAM and you can never have enough CPU, particularly if you plan to run multiple VMs at the same time.
I was able to run all sorts of different apps and utilities in Windows 10. While I wouldn't suggest virtualisation is great for gaming, you can play some decent games although you'll need to mess around with the default processor and memory settings to optimise performance. My kids experimented with a bunch of first-person shooters they like with their Steam accounts and could happily shoot and kill stuff without any hassles.
Just for kicks, I decided to take a crack at installing Windows 3.1 to see how it would work. I reviewed another virtualisation app, VMware Fusion, a few years ago and managed to get half a dozen different versions of Windows installed and running alongside each other.
I didn't do that this time but I did have Windows 3.1 and Windows 10 running alongside each other.
You can run your virtualised OS either in a window, full-screen or in Coherence mode. When in Coherence, the Windows desktop and other major OS elements are hidden and applications run in their own windows alongside your Mac apps. So, if you prefer to use your Mac most of the time but need a specific Windows app, the Windows app can run alongside your Mac software. You can copy/paste and drag-and-drop between the operating systems easily.
I've been using virtualisation software for a long time. And pretty much all the kinks and annoyances that existed in the early versions have disappeared. Running Windows 10 on my Mac feels no different to running it natively on its own machine.
In my testing and experimentation, Parallels Desktop 14 didn't miss a beat. If there's a problem, I didn't encounter it.
Should You Buy It
Parallels Desktop 14 is available either standalone with a perpetual license or as subscription software.
The perpetual version will set you back $109.95. Upgrades from the previous release are $71.45
Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and Business Editions, tailored for developers and work settings cost $137.45 per year respectively.
If you need to run virtualised software on your Mac, Parallels Desktop 14 will fit the bill. As mentioned above, you can currently save up to 92% on Parallels Desktop bundles at Parallels' Australian website. Get on it!
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