Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition: An alternative to Windows 7?

Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition: An alternative to Windows 7?

Summary: If you're mulling a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7, why not consider moving to different platform altogether? Parallels will help migrate your Windows licenses (and licenses for Windows-supported software) into virtual machines running on a Mac OS X host.


In the busy run up to VMware's VMworld, a number of technology suppliers have introduced me to new products. My friends at Parallels showed me their take on what users of Windows XP should do. Rather than migrating to Windows Vista and then on to Windows 7, Parallels thinks that folks might be happier moving to a Mac. They're now offering Parallels Desktop® Switch to Mac Edition to facilitate that process. If I was a CIO facing a move of thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of people to newer generation systems and from Windows XP to Windows 7, this might be an interesting option.

Here's what Parallels has to say about their Switch to Mac Edition

Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition includes everything you need to get up and running on your new Mac:

  • Comprehensive learning tutorials that teach the ins and outs of the Mac
  • Easy to use migration tools that make moving your old PC as easy as plug and click
  • The fastest way to run Your PC on Mac — without rebooting. The award winning Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac runs Windows-on-Mac so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition makes the move to Mac as easy as ready, set, switch.

Snapshot analysis

First of all, let me point out that my rather long desk supports several laptops -  a Windows XP system, a MacBook Pro and a Linux system.  I use all of these environments and have found that each has benefits and challenges.  I use the Mac most of all after a forced migration from a broken Dell laptop to the Mac (see The old coffee-in-the-keyboard trick for all of the embarassing details.) I found it workable enough that I never migrated back.

Although there are those who are proponents of following Microsoft's migration path from Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7, there are others who have considered what Microsoft is offering and have decided to go another way. They've looked at Mac OS X and have decided that is a better next logical step. After all, if they have to go to all of that trouble, it might be better to consider an entirely different platform.

Parallels is more than happy to help these people migrate their Windows licenses and licenses for Windows-supported software into virtual machines that run on a Mac OS X host operating system.

Parallels knows that others, such as VMware, could offer similar migration paths. So, they've decided to add an easy to use, easy to understand computer based training module that provides context based tutorials that will, they hope, show Windows XP users that Mac OS X isn't all that frightening.

The demo I was shown was quite impressive. Windows XP applications seemed responsive and easy to access.  The tutorial appeared straightforward and useful. the only thing missing is one of David Pogue's Switching to the Mac books.

What they didn't show in this demonstration that I've been shown in the past was how documents could easily be created in either Windows XP or Mac OS X virtual machines and updated in the other environment.

Is your organization thinking about or planning the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7?  If so, does the availability of this type of approach look like a viable alternative?

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • In answer to your questions:

    "Is your organization thinking about or planning the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7?"

    No. We're planning a migration from Windows Vista to Windows 7. Not because there is anything wrong with our Windows Vista deployment (our Vista deployment went perfectly smooth, and support and maintenance costs are severely reduced over XP), but we want to stay up to date, and new PC hardware will take advantage of Windows 7, so we want all systems to be the same to reduce support training.

    "If so, does the availability of this type of approach look like a viable alternative?"

    No. The cost of the hardware is too much, and dual-booting OS X (even in an integrated virtualization system like this) provides no value over Windows running natively on cheaper PC hardware.
    • So what happens

      to the XP applications that won't run in Windows 7. I have serious issues with Outlook 2003 in Windows 7.

      Oh I guess you'll use XP mode.

      Let's just hope that the hardware virtualization is not disabled in the BIOS...

      Or you'll pay to update all those desktops to the latest greaes MS products.

      MS must just love your organization.
      • Because you have to pay

        to hit the key to get into the BIOS and make a change? Right...
  • Quelle surprise!

    Your "friends at Parallel" recommend Windows XP shops switch to Mac OS X (running Parallels software, of course) rather than upgrade to Windows 7? Who'd've thunk it? I hope your "friends" also bought you a nice lunch while you were doing all that hard "research".
    • Thanks for the idea.

      Actually, the conference call included people from all over the place. I was working in my office at the time. No, Parallels didn't provide coffee or lunch.

      Dan K
  • Or just buy a PC and run Win 7

    A lot cheaper and less hassle.
    • or just download Ubuntu 9.04 on your computer

      and go away for a weekend ........ A lot cheaper and less hassle :-)
      Over and Out
  • Actually, in the future, most users only need a browser, and run legacy

    applications remotely in a terminal. No need for OSX or
    • Would that really work?

      While that might work when people are attached to a high speed network, that approach is problematic when one is mobile and can not rely on either network availability or performance.

      Dan K
      • Well, most web applications will work offline before long, and, if legacy

        applications only work when connected it will not
        be a huge deal for the transition. Google has also
        been working on some pretty amazing compression
        technology so that remote desktops and remote
        applications require very little bandwidth, so you
        will not need a high speed network. We are talking
        dial up speeds.
        • By the way, another great feature of running legacy applications in a

          terminal. If you need to leave, you can save your session, and then pick it up again EXACTLY where you
          left off, from ANY other computer. No need to close
          the application and restart it. So, you can not
          access them offline, but, there are some things that
          actually work better.

          And, we should also have that for web applications
          eventually as well.
      • Data in the cloud

        Haven't you heard, all data will be in the cloud in a couple years. All those concerns about accessibility will just turn into vapor. Or so I have been reading, many of your colleages at ZDNet seem to be convinced of it. Kidding aside I think the dumb terminal is on its way back. VDI technologies and such are maturing all the time.
  • Buy something I don't want to use something I do want?

    Yeah... that's going to happen. (Rolls eyes)
    Hallowed are the Ori
    • Yes, kind of sad that you have to buy something you don't want (Windows)

      to use something you do want - Firefox, Chrome, or
      Opera. You might also want to run some legacy
      applications remotely in a terminal.
      • Not even you are that obtuse. (nt)

        Hallowed are the Ori
        • Obtuse? Just noting the direction of technology. Like you say, who wants to

          pay for Windows 7 when you don't want it.
          Corporations need a browser, and the ability to run
          legacy applications for now. That is it folks.
  • What I find amusing about this... that most cases where this would be useful the user has an XP OEM license. You do understand that it's not transferable correct? You can't just "migrate your existing OEM XP license to a VM" because you are then, at least according to the terms you agreed to when purchasing the PC loaded with OEM software, pirating Windows. But hey, it's completely responsible for a blogger to advocate such wreckless behavior. It's not he who will pay the fines.

    Plus, VM is a TERRIBLE solution. Who wants to have a second OS they have to deal with to actually get work done? Not to mention the incrased costs of supporting multiple platforms on a single device.

    But good luck with that. I'll be sure to pick up any clients someone foolish enough to make this recommendation loses.
    • Yes, you think you bought XP, but, then you realize that you didn't.

      Kind of sad, but true.

      On the other hand, corporations with site licensing
      might be well within their rights . . . .
  • RE: Parallels Desktop?? Switch to Mac Edition??? - An alternative to Window

    Good luck with that, to the Parallels people.

    Of whom I'm a customer. I run Vista Business Pro for
    QuickBooks in Parallels. I also had to go out and get
    VMWare Fusion, because, at the time, Parallels clearly put
    their effort into the Windows experience, and for a lot of
    what I do, I prefer a Linux desktop. But, running Vista in
    Parallels works out very nicely for me.

    No, their suggestion strikes me as a tad Rube Goldbergian.
    I also have my doubts that many people will choose to
    upgrade to Win7 from XP so they can use XP Mode to run
    XP apps. I think there is a lot of resistance to multi-step
    plans to get one back to where one started.

    One further complication is created because XP OEM
    licenses are not transferable from their machines. Let's say
    that didn't matter, if one bought a Mac, it would be
    simpler and cheaper to just install XP and boot into that. In
    which case, why bother getting the Mac?

  • .

    Hallowed are the Ori