Popular software for running multiple virtual machines on a Mac, including Windows, gets a major upgrade. Windows users on Mac can take advantage of Mountain Lion features like multi-touch gestures, dictation and notifications. Windows can use the Retina display to its full potential. Overall, Windows apps feel more part of the Mac experience.
Parallels has released a major update to Parallels Desktop for Mac, the most popular solution for running virtual machines, primarily Microsoft Windows, on a Mac simultaneously with Mac applications. Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac adds support for OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and Windows 8.
Version 8 has several changes which make Windows programs feel more a part of the OS X experience:
Windows applications can be added to the OS X Launchpad. Click the image to the right to see a larger version.
Windows applications can use the full capability of the Retina display. Parallels claims that the highest-resolution Windows 8 system you can get is a Mac running Parallels.
Parallels users can use the Smart Full Screen to allow Windows applications to use the entire Mac screen without the docks and other chrome.
Mountain Lion notifications are [correction:] shown in Mountain Lion's Notification Center surfaced in Windows.
Mountain Lion gestures like pinch, rotate and zoom, work in Windows.
Mountain Lion dictation support works within Windows.
Multiple Windows and Mac devices can now share Bluetooth connections
The new Presentation Wizard (see right; click on the image for a larger version) makes presentations interruption-free by disabling screen savers on Mac and Windows, optimizing the full-screen display and automatically adjusting resolution.
Parallels users can install and use Windows 8 like any other version. According to the company, over 300,000 customers have already downloaded one of the Windows 8 preview builds and installed them in Parallels. Eventually users will be able to buy, download and install Windows 8 from within Parallels.
Finally, to address the numerous web sites which require Internet Explorer, Parallels adds an "Open in IE" button to OS X Safari.
Parallels Desktop for Mac Enterprise Edition has also been updated with version 8 features. Enterprise Edition adds network manageability to Parallels along with other features necessary for enterprises, like deployment tools, enhanced support and an all-inclusive subscription.
Version 8 is available now to existing customers as a $49.99 upgrade. Retail versions will be available on September 4. The full Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac has an MSRP of $79.99. Parallels Desktop 8 Switch to Mac Edition is MSRP at $99.99, and the Student Edition costs $39.99. The Switch to Mac Edition includes a high-speed transfer cable with a smart chip for migrating a Windows installation on a PC to a Parallels VM on a Mac. It also includes 2 hours of tutorial videos for Windows users. The Student Edition is a fully-featured version, for personal use only on a single-user machine. You must be a student or faculty member of an academic institution to qualify for purchase.
According to Parallels, there are more than 10,000 discrete Windows programs run in Parallels, but these are the most popular ones.
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