Parallels Desktop 5.0 review

Parallels has once again updated its virtualisation software for the Mac. Is it worth upgrading to? We review it to find out.

The new MacLook feature takes this one step further and gives your Windows applications a Mac appearance, complete with Mac-style window widgets, although this new look obviously disables the Aero interface so the two can't be used simultaneously. MacLook also doesn't work with Windows applications that use their own non-standard window widgets, such as Google Chrome.

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Parallels claims version 5 is faster than version 4. In our tests we found that the Windows user interface felt snappier and more responsive under version 5 than it did in version 4. Version 5 also fixes a bug in version 4 where performance was actually worse when the virtual computer was allocated 2GB of RAM than when it was allocated just 1GB. Parallels 5 now runs in 64-bit mode under Snow Leopard, so it can take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM. Parallels 5 is a significant upgrade over previous versions. If you frequently use other operating systems on your Mac, then the new features and improvement makes it a worthwhile purchase. If you are an existing owner it's also worth checking this site, as certain owners of version 4 are eligible for free or discounted upgrades to version 5.

Verdict

Parallels users who are owners of the previous version will most likely get by without upgrading, especially as version 4 is compatible with Snow Leopard. Equally, less frequent virtualisation users may also be content with a less sophisticated alternative such as the free and open source VirtualBox. However, if you’re a regular user, then this is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

CPU: Intel processor Host operating system: MacOS X 10.4.11 or later Memory: 1GB RAM (2GB recommended) Storage: 15GB hard disk space for each virtual computer Installation: CD-ROM drive, 450MB of hard disk space

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