Parallels supports Windows 7, Snow Leopard

Parallels Desktop Mac virtualisation software is faster than the previous version and gives users more customisation flexibility when working with Windows
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Parallels has introduced support for the recently launched Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating systems in version 5 of its Parallels Desktop for Mac virtualisation product.

Version 5 of Parallels' Mac virtualisation software, announced on Wednesday, improves performance and introduces a new mode that makes Windows invisible.

Parallels Desktop allows users to run Windows, Linux or other operating systems in a virtual machine on the Mac platform. The new version performs significantly faster than Parallels Desktop 4.0, introduced last November, and the company has tweaked the interface to give users more flexibility in how they view Mac and Windows desktops.

Version 5 runs up to three times as fast as its predecessor for virtual machine operations, and 3D graphics show an up to seven-times improvement under the 3Dmark 2006 Professional test suite, Parallels said. Performance on Linux guests has been improved via a switch to the KVM virtualisation engine, according to the company.

Users can now choose from several different options for how Windows is displayed alongside the Mac OS, including the full-screen mode introduced in version 4 as well as the new Crystal mode, which makes Windows disappear.

Under Crystal mode, all Parallels Desktop controls, icons and menus are hidden, except for an icon in the Mac menu bar and a Windows Applications folder in the Dock, according to Parallels. The mode alters all Windows folder views and applications to resemble those of a Mac, the company said.

Another tweak allows the trackpad gestures built into Mac OS X to be used with Windows applications. These allow users to interact with applications via pinch, swipe and rotate gestures on the Mac's trackpad.

Other interface changes include support for Microsoft's Aero graphics technology in Windows Vista and Windows 7, more accurate copy-and-paste between Windows and Linux operating systems, and multiple monitor support for Windows and Mac applications.

Performance improvements include a new technology for automatically optimising the virtual machine size, support for OpenGL 2.1 for better Linux guest graphics performance and support for 64-bit versions of Windows and Snow Leopard.

The software costs £59.99, including security, disk management and backup tools, while existing users can upgrade for £34.99. Users who purchased version 4.0 on or after 1 October can upgrade for free, according to Parallels.

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