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Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac: Turn your Mac into one of the very best Windows 10 PCs you can buy

The very best way to run Windows 10 on your Mac
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

I switched my daily driver system from Windows to Mac what feels like eons ago, but that doesn't mean that I don't still need to use Windows 10. I use it quite a lot in fact, and while I could have a separate system, I find that my Mac is the best Windows 10 machine I can buy.

Out of the box, Macs have a tool called Boot Camp that allows users to install Windows 10 int a separate partition. But Boot Camp is pretty restrictive. I can boot into Mac, or I can boot into Windows, and that's pretty limited. Also, it can only run Windows, so Linux and the likes is not an option.

Enter Parallels Desktop. Quite simply, it's the best way to run Windows 10 -- not to mention Linux and Android -- on your Mac. Parallels Desktop transforms Macs into one of the very best Windows 10 PCs you can buy.

You can even run another macOS installation on your Mac using Parallels Desktop.

And today sees a new release: Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac.

Must read: This Apple product used to be terrible, but I now highly recommend it

Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac

So, what's new?

A lot.

Immediately obvious is the new look, offering a refreshed design that integrates well with Apple's upcoming macOS Big Sur. But there's much more to Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac than a cosmetic update.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Up to 20 percent faster DirectX 11 and improved OpenGL 3 graphics in Windows and Linux.
  • Up to 10 percent longer battery life when Windows runs in Travel Mode.
  • Virtual machines (VMs) can be set to automatically return unused disk space when shutting down.
  • Use smooth zoom and rotate Trackpad multi-touch gestures in Windows apps.
  • Print on both sides and use more paper sizes, from A0 to envelope.

One of the key features that separates Parallels Desktop from the competition is ease of use. For example, installing Windows 10 is easy thanks to the built-in Installation Assistant.

There are several different ways to get Windows running on your Mac:

  • Parallels Desktop can download Windows 10 for free from Microsoft and install it (you can later purchase a product key from Microsoft).
  • You can move Windows, its applications, and your files from a physical PC into Parallels Desktop on your Mac.
  • You can import a Windows 10 virtual machine to Parallels Desktop.
  • You can upgrade an existing Windows 7 or 8 virtual machine to Windows 10.
  • If you have Windows in a Boot Camp partition you can run it simultaneously with macOS without rebooting or migrate it into a virtual machine, and reclaim the disk space back to macOS.
  • You can download a Microsoft preconfigured Windows virtual machine test environment for Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer.

The best-selling version of Parallels Desktop is the Pro Edition, and this brings even more functionality and features:

  • CPUs and RAM: Assign up to 32 vCPUs and 128 GB vRAM for each VM.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio plug-in: Visual Studio integration simplifies testing applications across operating systems.
  • Create and name custom networks (new): Name your custom networks for more organized and productive testing.
  • Nested Virtualization: Run and test Microsoft Hyper-V based virtual machines in your Parallels Desktop virtual machine.
  • Command Line: Rich command-line interface (prlctl and prlsrvctl) allows flexible work automatization.
  • Vagrant, Docker, and Jenkins Plugins: Complimentary Vagrant, Docker, and Jenkins plugins/providers for developers.
  • Linked Clones: Make a new VM from a snapshot of the existing VM. The linked clone occupies only a fraction of disk space that is used by the parent VM, as it reuses disk sectors that are the same for both VMs.
  • Archive a VM right in Control Center: Pro users tend to have many virtual machines that occupy a lot of disk space. In-place archive right from Parallels Desktop Control Center, with the ability to manage the configuration of an archived VM, brings unique convenience.
  • Prepare for transfer (new): Export a VM in a compressed format as a solid file for easier and faster upload and transfer to new hardware.
  • 50+ features: More than 50 useful and time-saving features are included in the Pro Edition.

iStat Menus -- in pictures

Business user? There's a special Business Edition for you, packed with features that you need to manage everything:

  • Corporate VM provisioning: Easily configure VMs with preinstalled applications to upload and host for employees to securely download and run on their Mac devices.
  • Upgrade control: Centralized administration provides flexible controls to manage access to new Parallels Desktop updates, new feature releases, upgrades, and new macOS releases.
  • Passwordless update: Administrator credentials are no longer required for Parallels Desktop updates, making it easier for IT and users to keep it current even when users are not admins on their Mac devices.
  • Easy installation on macOS Big Sur: Parallels Desktop installation on macOS Big Sur does NOT require the approval of system extension, so installation is fast, seamless, and does not require rebooting your Mac.

"Parallels invested more than 25-man-years of engineer programming to take full advantage of the new macOS Big Sur architecture and revamped kernel extensions to deliver our best Windows-on-Mac performance ever for our Parallels Desktop 16 customers," said Nick Dobrovolskiy, parallels senior vice president of engineering and support. "The innovative new features in Parallels Desktop 16 include the world's first support for Metal applications with 3D capabilities running in a macOS Big Sur virtual machine on a macOS Big Sur host. Performance improvements include launching twice as fast, up to 20 percent faster Windows resume and shutdown, faster DirectX, and more."

A new license starts at $79.99, while upgrades start at $49.99. There is also a subscription model, and Parallels Desktop 16 subscribers also get access to Parallels Toolbox for Mac and Windows and Parallels Access.

Parallels Toolbox 4 for Windows and Mac

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