Long gone are the days when you had to choose between Mac or PC - now you can have your cake and eat it with Parallels Desktop 8.0 which allows you to run Windows and other operating systems within OS X.
A more convenient alternative to Boot Camp
There are essentially two options to run Windows on the Mac - using Boot Camp which involves installing Windows on a separate partition and rebooting it in Windows or, running Windows in a virtual environment, such as the one that Parallels Desktop provides. With the former, you'll get quicker and more realistic results but there's no substitute for being able to switch at will between OS X and Windows which is what Parallels Desktop allows you to do.
Setting up Parallels Desktop is a breeze. You'll either need a copy of Windows on CD to install it or an ISO image will also suffice. Parallels Desktop will then install Windows in about the same amount of time that it would take to make a fresh install of Windows on a PC. The Transporter feature guides you through the whole setup process, asking you if you'd like to be able to share files between OS X and Windows and use external devices amongst others.
There's no need to worry about viruses on your Mac by running Windows in Parallels Desktop - any viruses will be restricted to the virtual environment that Windows operates in and won't affect your Mac in any way. However, version 7 of Parallels includes a security barrier to ensure there is absolutely no risk.
To launch Parallels Desktop you have two choices. Either launch it from your dock, it will ask you which version of Windows you'd like to launch (if you've installed more than one) and allow you to change settings such as the amount of RAM allocated to Parallels, hard disk space and hardware acceleration. Alternatively, just double click on the file you want to use and Parallels Desktop will automatically open it in Windows or OS X depending on the file type. In this way, version 7 has blurred the line between Windows and OS X so that switching between the two has never been easier.
Can be slow sometimes
You may notice that the mouse runs sluggishly (among other niggles) but this can be easily remedied by going to the Actions menu and downloading Parallels Tools. Why this is a separate component I have no idea because it makes running of Parallels far smoother and more realistic but it doesn't take much time to download.
There are many other great features in Parallels Desktop too, including the possibility to use Spotlight to find Windows files and applications. Mac keyboard shortcuts work in Windows too as do parental controls. Adding USB devices is a breeze and the Mountain Lion resume feature now extends to Windows apps too.
A great tool to run Windows and OSX at the same time
It's a bit more sluggish than using Boot Camp to install Windows on your Mac but the latest version of Parallels Desktop makes it faster and more convenient than ever to switch between Windows and OS X.
The latest version of Parallels Desktop brings full OS X Yosemite compatibility. It's also faster in terms on launch time meaning you can crank-up Parallels when you need it and have it up and going within seconds instead of running it in the background for instant access. Amongst other changes, Parallels also now includes support for iCloud Drive and iPhoto Libraries within Windows. There's also a new useful Yosemite Notification Center widget that displays any other virtual machines you're running and the resources they’re consuming.
- Speak, dont type - Use the new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Dictation tool across both Windows and Mac environments
- Open in Internet Explorer - When a website doesnt render well within Safari, launch it in Internet Explorer with a click of a button
- Parallels Wizard - Download and automatically install Windows or other operating systems (OSes) including Google Chrome OS, Ubuntu and Android on your Mac.
- Windows apps on OS X Launchpad - Add Windows applications to the OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or Lion Launchpad to quickly launch Mac and Windows applications used most
- Consolidated notifications - Integration of Windows notifications into the Mac OS X Notification Center makes it easy to stay updated on Windows virtual machine operations
- Mountain Lion gestures for Windows apps - Enjoy seamless integration of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion gestures with Windows apps such as pinch to zoom, Mission Control, three-finger drag, swipe between full-screen apps, two-finger scroll, Launchpad and rotate
- Retina display support - Enjoy stunning Retina display resolution in Windows OS and Windows applications to see crisper fonts, vivid photos, images and animations
- Improved Parallels Desktop 8 performance - Up to 30 percent faster for input/output (I/O) operations, 30 percent faster for games and up to 25 percent faster for virtual machine operations such as boot, suspend, shutdown and resume, when compared to Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac