2014-08-26 08-59-52 2014-08-26 09-00-07Last week, Parallels launched the upgrade to v10 of their software and today, you can now get the full version online.

Parallels Desktop has long been one of the go-to applications for using your Mac to virtualize a wide variety of operating systems, and many considered its previous version 9 as more than sufficient for getting this job done. While the software shining point has always been its ability to run Windows truly parallel to the standard Mac OS X desktop, this version of Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac takes multiple strides forward, making it even easier than before to incorporate Windows-only applications—or applications from other x86 operating systems including Android, Chrome, Linux, etc.—into your Mac-based workflow.

Perhaps most importantly, Parallels again ups the ante in speed both in launching and runtime, turning virtualization into a native-feeling experience.

A big part of Parallels Desktop 10 story is that the company is introducing very robust support for not only Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X Yosemite, but also Windows 8 and 8.1. In the past, Parallels has done a great job of intertwining the two popular desktop operating systems and making it ridiculously simple to use both simultaneously, but with Yosemite and Windows 8, the software has even tighter integration. For example, you can do things like right-click a link in Windows and choose to share it using social media accounts that are already configured in Yosemite. But that’s just the beginning.

Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac 2014-08-26 01-00-56 2014-08-26 01-00-58There are even more useful Yosemite-based features that are coming to Windows via this latest version of Parallels. As you may know, Continuity is one of the bigger concepts that Apple introduced at WWDC earlier this year, giving users seamless integration between their Mac and other devices like a connected iPhone, for example. Using continuity to dial a phone number found online via your iPhone is built-in to Yosemite, but with Parallels 10 you can now do so with a couple clicks in Windows as well. Additionally, Parallels now supports iCloud Drive and iPhoto Library within Windows—so it only takes a drag and drop to save your Office documents.

You can also quickly “Save As..” in the latest versions of Microsoft Office to various cloud services that have already been configured on the Mac side. Namely, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, and Dropbox can all be quickly added to the list of save destinations, which would come in handy if text editing and productivity are your main reasons for using Parallels.

Another interesting feature that the team has implemented is a Yosemite Notification Center widget that displays your currently running virtual machines and displays the resources they’re taking up. I’ve actually found myself using Notification Center quite a bit in Yosemite now that I can do things like publish to social media via widgets, and this is a helpful addition and gives me an idea of how much stress my second machine is putting on my system.

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One of the things that I found really nice was using the Windows 8 start screen in “Coherence” mode. (In case you don’t know, Coherence is a Parallels feature which lets you run applications from another OS natively within Mac OS X.) When running Windows 7 in Coherence mode, clicking the Windows 7 icon in the dock opens the traditional start menu. But if you have Windows 8 installed, clicking that respective icon will actually present the modern-style start screen in its full glory—much like Launchpad. The screen appears without a hitch and Parallels classily blurs your desktop background behind it.

But what’s most impressive is that all of these features work as advertised without any noticeable hit to performance. In fact, Parallels has done a bit of shaming of its own top-of-the-line virtualization software of yesteryear, touting some major performance improvements over the last major iteration. While I can’t really confirm scientifically that there are performance improvements happening here, I can definitely say that I never had a problem running Windows 7, 8, or Chrome OS on my less-than-beastly MacBook Air. Just to give you an idea, Parallels says that—compared to Parallels Desktop for Mac 9—battery life could be up to 30% longer, snapshots are up to 60% faster, and launching apps like Microsoft Office should be up to 50% faster. For one, I can attest that battery life was better than I expected it to be.

There’s definitely some optimizations happening behind the scenes that make all these performance boosts possible, but version 10 also includes a nifty new feature that makes squeezing every last ounce of performance out of Parallels possible for even the less technically savvy. Within the Parallels Wizard when setting up a new OS, the software asks you how you most intend to use the virtual machine. Your selection here will mean tweaking of some settings that you never have to look at and will in the end mean you get better battery life and a faster, more seamless experience. While this might not be a groundbreaking feature for those of us who are going to tinker with the settings anyway, it definitely makes the set up process easier for others.

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There aren’t many downsides to Parallels 10 vs previous versions or the competition, but something convenient that is noticeably absent from version 10 is the ability to download and install Windows directly from Parallels. We’re told that Parallels had to remove this feature due to Microsoft licensing changes and they are working with Microsoft to change this policy. That’s a bummer and obtaining Windows media, be it a DVD or a USB stick adds a few steps to the installation process.

Access 2014-08-26 08-48-08 2014-08-26 08-48-11If you want to get access to your Parallels experience on mobile platforms, the company does have an interesting app that it tries to subtly push on you when installing a new virtual machine. It’s called Parallels Access, and while it does seem to be a great way of using desktop apps on a tablet or smartphone (which I would hope wouldn’t be necessary in most cases), it requires a completely separate desktop client to work and costs $19.99 per year to use. The app does go above and beyond other offerings in this space, though, bringing things like a mobile-style app launcher for desktop apps, better ways to control these apps with a touch screen, and more. Personally I think this is something I’m going to pass on (mostly because I just don’t need it), but the company obviously wants users to try it out because they made an entire settings screen just for downloading the apps and desktop client. We also found the solution quite impressive in our full review for those that can find a use for it.

Overall, this is just more of what Parallels Desktop 9 already brought us: a great—probably the best—way to run Windows and other operating systems within Mac OS X. There are countless other features shipping with this release, like support for 3 button mice, Windows apps automatically being added to Launchpad as you install them, the ability to insert Mac special characters on the Windows side, and other improvements. But if you’ve never taken the plunge and given Parallels a shot before, this version of the software is definitely worthy of a double-digit version number and offers more than just new features—it improves and innovates on the reliable and efficient formula of previous releases.

You can get Parallels today for $49.99 if you’re upgrading from either version 8 or 9, or it can otherwise be had for $79.99 with a few limited time bundled apps. Additionally, there is a 14-day trial available for those not sure if they want to take the plunge.

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22 Responses to “Review: Parallels Desktop 10 brings even tighter OS X/Windows integration, overall performance improvements”

  1. depicus says:

    I’d like a £ for every time I’ve heard there are speed improvements only to upgrade and it be just as fast/slow as before and nothing much has changed apart from a few new bugs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • cwaldo says:

      couldn’t agree more. I hate having to have this. There are only two pieces of software that we still need windows on, unfortunately there both on my mac :(

      Liked by 1 person

    • sardonick says:

      Ditto. Just another residual $50 fee for those of us who upgrade to get the latest and greatest. I’ve noticed nothing remarkable in terms of performance. Still did it.

      Like

      • monkyfoniks says:

        I bought 9 in May, right before 10.10. 9 Does not work in 10.10, so now I’m forced to upgrade? Nope. I don’t like the Micro$oftesque business practices where you have to part with a lot of money for updates that should be free.

        Like

  2. mockery17 says:

    Definitely not gonna pay for a yearly subscription in the guise of upgrades. VMWare is leagues better in this regard.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Two things. Microsoft will not change this policy for Parallels on the distribution. I’m a contractor for Symantec and we’re dealing with this in some of our products where we used to distribute Windows PE. Microsoft no longer allows even the distribution of PE from third parties. I don’t see this changing any time soon.
    Second, the thing I’ve noticed about Parallels is that they are not a customer friendly company. Too many fees, and required registration. I switched to VMware Fusion and am not looking back. It’s a much more elegant product and it works seamlessly with my VMs that I create in VMware Workstation on my work PC. Same version of VMware tools and everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim Jr. says:

      VMWare doesn’t support USB 3 in Windows 7, but Parallels has for almost 2 years. VMware still doesn’t support 2013 or 2014 Macbook Webcams, Parallels does, thats been almost 2 years. I use Windows 7 because my work does and it’s not changing any time soon… Many companies are that way.

      VMWare also doesn’t support games as well either.. Which is one of the reasons I use a VM personally. Parallels does a fairly good job on that front as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rafterman11 says:

        VMware supports USB 3 on Windows 7 just fine. I don’t know about webcams, O haven’t tried them.

        I’ve also had no performance issues on VMware for neither games or apps. Your performance will only be as good as your host hardware.

        Like

      • @rafterman11 it actually doesn’t support usb3 in win 7. google it.

        Like

      • Tim Jr. says:

        @rafterman11 no.. VMWare Fusion w/Windows 7 doesn’t support USB3. I have the latest VMWare Fusion – The USB 3 controller in Windows 7 is an unidentified device in system devices. You can only use the USB 2 controller with Windows 7. You’re forced to connect a USB 2 HUB to your USB3 port to use USB3 devices, It’s spotty when it works with USB3 devices, and when it does it’s bottled at USB2 speeds.

        It’s plain and simple sloppy work on VMWares part. It’s not that VMWare can’t fix this or do it right, it’s that they WONT. Even though it’s obvious their primary businesses are not eager or being quick about moving to Windows 8.

        If Windows 8 was the hottest thing, many would move over.. it’s not.. VMWare needs to get a clue on this.

        Like

      • VMWare support usb 3 from version 4.0 you must read manual if you dont know using something, about speed – i have tested VMWare vs parallels on my youtube hackintosh slovakia channel , VMWare is 2x – 3x speedier, where can people see your test brother?

        Like

  4. shareef777 says:

    One of the worst companies ever. They completely abandon their existing customers and thrive off of new ones who are unfamiliar with their subscription model. Eventually the entire community will realize their business strategy and they’ll either get bought out or go bankrupt. I’m afraid that’ll be a while as they likely have very little R&D costs as it’s apparent each version they release is nothing more then bug fixes (and additions) with a couple minor UI tweaks. I mean seriously, the best they could muster for ver10 is a WIDGET!?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ruediger says:

    IMHO: Most of the List of new Features is just Marketing-JibberJabber as usual. I’ve suspected not more but not less either. :)

    Like

    • emantravel says:

      Correct. Look at TekRevue’s Benchmark Tests. The speed improvements are not there. They seem to be the only ones actually testing, instead of just blindly blogging about the marketed performance improvements.

      http://www.tekrevue.com/parallels-desktop-10-benchmarks-review/

      Liked by 1 person

      • ruediger says:

        I used to work in the consumer software business for long time, you’re just take the old backend, put some new icons and colors on top, change the interface a little bit, make it more like the new System Interface, put a new major version number ob and you got a new product, customers have to pay for.

        Maybe there are some adjustments to get the full compatibility, but most of the times this is it. But this is a Software Company they act as they supposed to.

        My conclusion: If Version 9 is not longer working on 10.10, I am going to switch to Virtualbox, this one will meet my needs quite fine. I we have to stick with Windows we are screwed anyway.

        Like

  6. motilon79 says:

    Nice features but 50$ for the upgrade? Too expensive…Every year it is the same! Parallels takes advantage out of the most people wanting to upgrade the latest mac os.

    I hope that version 9 runs well without any compatibility issues with Yosemite.

    Like

    • monkyfoniks says:

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Crashes when you start Parallels.

      Like

    • Josh Nash says:

      I’ve actually found a workaround to run Parallels 9 in Yosemite. You’ve got to delete your existing version of 9 and then reinstall it without the updates. As long as you don’t update Parallels 9 to the latest version of P9, it works just fine.

      Like

  7. If you’ve tried copying and pasting, good luck. It doesn’t work on apps like Excel. I submitted a report and their only response to me was “Oh. We’ll look into it.”

    Like

  8. Everyone seems to forget that software companies have to live. I don’t mind paying another €50 for a product which is visibly improved and I am glad to know that the company is going to continue keeping the programme up to date. You should try Adobe’s update pricing.

    For me, the difference to version 8 is large. Anyone that can’t see the improvements to the UI compared to version 9 must be using very dark glasses. I was disappointed with Desktop 8, but it worked, I am very much happier with the new version 10.

    Like

  9. btw, copy/paste works in Excel for me np.

    Like

  10. monkyfoniks says:

    Anyone coming here to decide on buying Parallels, rather get VMware Fusion or just use Virtual Box, both of them are just as good if not better (Especially when it comes to NOT screwing over paying customers).

    Parallels seriously keep ignoring paying customers with their greedy business practices. How does a customer who have bought THEIR software have to pay another $50 to upgrade to get a working copy of Parallels? Bought Parallels 9 right before OSX 10.10’s first DP. Parallels 9 kept working up until DP 3. Of course they will hide the fact that there is a Parallels 10 in the works, and then expect another $50 from a paying customer, which is the only way to get it to do work again, which is a HELL NO.

    Can’t even get a refund, so I hope my Charity somehow went into their more self marketing endeavours like Ice bucket challenges, etc.

    Like