Review: Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

(We’re offering a $10 discount/free Parallels MacBook Air contest this week)

If you are not new to Parallels, you will already be familiar with its ability to run Windows in a virtual machine within OS X. You might also be familiar with its Coherence view mode that allows you to run Windows and Mac OS applications side by side, rather than a full-blown Windows 7 in a separate window. However, Parallels Desktop 7 takes it to the next level with some of the deepest Windows/OS X integration yet.

The name of the game for the new Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac is definitely OS X Lion integration. Pretty much every new UI feature incorporated into Lion has been integrated into Parallels, and thus Windows 7. We put the new version to the test with both Windows 7 and Windows 8 developer preview on last year’s iMac with 4GB of RAM.

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Apple releases OS X 10.7.3 build 11D36 to developers

Apple released OS X 10.7.3 build 11D36 to developers this evening, and it is available on the Developer Center. Apple asked developers to focus on iCloud Document Storage, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Spotlight, and Safari. The delta update of this build tops out at 986 MB and the combo update weighs in at 1.25 GB. The OS X 10.7.3 should roll out to Lion users in the coming weeks, so sit tight.

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Last Chance for $49 MacUpdate Bundle – ends today

From 9to5Toys.com:

Affiliate partner MacUpdate today offers their new $49.99 Dec 2011 Bundle headlined by TechTool Pro, TotalFinder, Postbox 3 and FontPack Pro Master Collection and seven more quality apps for $49.99.  TechTool Pro, which retails for double the entire bundle price, includes a bootable DVD disk for disk repair and diagnostics.

8 of the 11 100% Mac OS X 10.7 compatible apps are available as demos, which can be downloaded in a single dmg from here. (TechTool Pro 6, FontPack Pro Master Collection, and Neverwinter Nights 2 do not have demos)

As a bonus, the all-new IconBox 2.5 goes to the first 15,000 buyers. $49.99 at MacUpdate

Full rundown below: Read more

Apple releases Safari 5.1.2, brings bug fixes

Apple has released Safari 5.1.2 to users this afternoon, available by direct download or by hitting up Software Update. The update is relatively minor, but brings along bug fixes that address issues of stability, extensive memory usage, fixing webpages that were flashing white, and now allows PDFs to be displayed within web content. Go ahead and download!

Improve stability
Address issues that could cause hangs and excessive memory usage
Address issues that could cause webpages to flash white
Allow PDFs to be displayed within web content

MacTech declares Parallels 7 the Virtualization performance champ on the Mac

Windows/Linux Virtualization on the Mac is mostly a 3 player game these days. You have the open source/free VirtualBox that was purchased by Oracle as part of its Sun acquisition two years ago. It is a basic emulator which works as a get what you pay for kind of basic functionality solution. Oracle isn’t big on free Open Source products so don’t expect it to get a lot better any time soon.

That leaves the two big players, Parallels and VMware Fusion. Both companies recently released updates to their software and both can now virtualize another instance of Mac OS X (great for developers who need to test their apps on older software or users who need applications that require Rosetta for instance). MacTech did a comprehensive set of Benchmarks and came away with a clear speed winner.

In almost every test, the $79 Parallels 7 beat the $49 VMware Fusion in speed (as you can see from the graphic above).

In the vast majority of overall our tests, Parallels Desktop 7 won. Again, if you count up the general tests (including the top 3D graphics scores), Parallels won 60% of the tests by 10% or more. And, if you include all the tests where Parallels was at least 5% faster, as well as the balance of the 3DMark06 graphics tests, Parallels increased the lead further. In other words, Parallels Desktop 7 beat VMware Fusion 4.0.2 in 74.9% of the general tests we ran, and Parallels was double the speed or more in almost a quarter of the top-level tests.

VMware obviously has a larger install base in the Enterprise with a longer history of virtualization on the PC. However with benchmarks leaning heavily toward Parallels, some Mac-focused businesses may start to tip toward Parallels.

We’ll have an in-depth look at Parallels 7 coming up as well as a contest where we’ll be handing out a few interesting prizes including a MacBook Air. Stay Tuned!

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Mac OS 10.8 users already doing external testing

Mac OS 10.8 testers both inside Apple’s HQ and in the surrounding area of Silicon Valley have been spotted in Web Logs by MacRumors. Indeed, looking at our own logs (above), 10.8 users have been hitting our servers since mid-August, though only in numbers that probably could have been faked.

More recently, however, 10.8 testing has grown more abundant, with testers hitting our site every day including on weekends from non-Apple IP addresses throughout October.

Similar patterns emerged in testing OS 10.7 which leads us to conclude that this is still very early testing and it is likely more than a year before we’ll see even public betas of the OS.

Still, very nice to see Apple’s already working on the next big cat.

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Apple looking to bring AirPlay Mirroring, iMessage application to Mac OS X

AirPlay Mirroring shown with an iPad 2 and an Apple TV

Sources familiar with the future of Mac OS X say that AirPlay Mirroring and an iMessage application are currently in development. Although neither project may see the light of day, they are definitely on the table for release in future versions of OS X Lion. AirPlay Mirroring for the Mac will allow a user to wirelessly mirror exactly what is shown on their Mac’s display to an Apple TV connected to a projector, television, or external monitor. AirPlay video streaming is also being integrated into QuickTime X.

This would be a fantastic addition to the conference room for corporate presentations and would sell a few more Apple TVs we would imagine.

iMessage for Mac info after the break:

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Former Compaq Chairman, and current Mac user, reveals that Jobs asked Compaq to license the Mac OS in 1999

Among other interesting tidbits on Steve Jobs, technology investment pioneer Ben Rosen reveals that the new Apple CEO invited the then Compaq Chairman and CEO to Silicon Valley in 1999 to inquire about licensing Mac OS X:

After we finished with the amenities and reminiscences, we got to the purpose of the meeting. Steve wanted Compaq to offer the Apple operating system on its PC line, adding to the Microsoft OS that had always been our sole OS. At the time, Compaq was the world’s largest manufacturer of PCs. Our adopting the Apple OS would be seen as a feather in Apple’s cap (and a pretty visible slap at Microsoft). The catching up with Steve was fun, the food was great, but the OS idea never gained traction. Upon further analysis, it didn’t make sense for either Compaq or Apple. Compaq wasn’t about to declare war on Microsoft, our partner from our birth in 1982, and Steve had second thoughts about licensing their crown jewels.

What’s interesting here is this is a year after the introduction of the iMac and more than a year after Jobs had terminated Mac Clone licensing deals with Power Computing, Motorola and others. This was something else entirely.

This is also around the time OS X was being tested (the server version which was a NeXT port was released that same year). From the Intel transition announcement (4:40 above) we know Apple always had an Intel version of the Mac OS X being built alongside the PowerPC version (codenamed Marklar) but it now appears that Apple was seriously considering licensing the Intel version alongside the PowerPC version when the Mac OS X client was released way back at the turn of the decade.

Imagine an alternative universe where Compaq Macs competed with Apple’s Macs through the last decade. Weird.

Also, Rosen has a warm email contact with Steve Jobs where he reveals that though he was a Compaq CEO and Chariman for 20 years, he’s back to using a Mac as of 2007, below:

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LaCie’s anticipated Thunderbolt-equipped Little Big Disk arrives at the Apple Store, along with Thunderbolt updates

Since Apple and Intel’s joint announcement of the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology, one of the most anticipated products to make use of the technology has been the Thunderbolt-compatible Little Big Disk from LaCie. The drive – which comes in both HDD and SSD flavors – was announced all the way back in February for a “summer” launch, and is now finally arriving at Apple Stores in both the United States and internationally. LaCie’s description of Thunderbolt and why it is important for a product like the Little Big Disk:

This new high-speed cable technology connects computers and electronic devices together like never before. Thunderbolt technology supports two 10Gb/s bi-directional channels from a single port, the fastest data connection available on a personal computer. At 10Gb/s, a full-length HD movie can be transferred in less than 30 seconds.

Since the drive carries two ports, it can be daisy chained. The drives have already arrived at Apple Stores, which suggest immediate availability, and we are expecting an official announcement from LaCie in the coming days. The hard disk drive variant with 1TB of storage will reportedly cost $399.

Update: here they are.

Apple also announced Thunderbolt updates, another firmware update and a software update for Snow Leopard…

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VMware Fusion 4 hits, touts improved speed and Lion features

VMware Fusion was upgraded to version 4 today with “over 90 new features” and low introductory $49.99 price. That follows the release two weeks ago of main competitor Parallels with many of the same Lion and speed improvements but heftier $79.99 price tag.

VMware touts three major areas of improvement:

  1. Bring the Magic of OS X Lion to Your Windows Programs. Optimized for OS X Lion including Launchpad, Mission Control, and Spotlight to give the best Windows on Mac experience.
  2. Even More Mac-like. From the installation experience to the redesigned user interface, everything has been refined for the most Mac-like experience when running Windows programs on a Mac.
  3. Better Performance. Faster Graphics. Outstanding Reliability. Turbocharged for today’s multi-core Macs and delivering up to 2.5x faster 3D graphics, VMware Fusion 4 is faster than ever.

Release below:

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Apple seeds OS X Lion 10.7.2 beta build 11C55 with iCloud to developers

Apple has seeded OS X Lion 10.7.2 build 11C55 to developers today, and it is the first OS X Lion 10.7.2 build to include iCloud for Mac built-in. Previously, developers had to download a separate iCloud for Mac package.

OS X Lion Software Update 10.7.2 is an update to OS X Lion 10.7 and includes support for iCloud beta. Please refer to the seed note for more details and installation instructions. (Mac Developer Program membership is required)

OS X Lion 10.7.2 includes the ability for users to easily enable iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Find my Mac on their computers. The software release will most likely ship alongside iCloud sometime this fall. Apple’s iCloud service is seemingly almost ready to launch with both Apple and carriers (for the iOS 5 integration) already being trained on the matter.

Let us know if you find anything; tips@9to5mac.com. Thanks Nicholas!

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