Review: Parallels -- The Mac Way To Do Windows

Parallels is an extraordinary accomplishment, allowing you to run Windows and Windows applications on the Mac. However, it still has a couple of flaws.
The other application I was looking to use on IE is Interwoven's ContentCenter, a content management system for publishing on the Web. ContentCenter will run in Firefox (on the Mac or PC), but only reluctantly, and so I wanted to try it using Internet Explorer. Alas, during my one trial using ContentCenter on IE using Parallels, I couldn't get it to preview articles. (I was unable to ascertain the cause of the problem.)

Problems With Parallel
However, Parallels isn't perfect, by any means. The Windows applications run almost like native Mac apps, but not quite. It's like eating at D.Z. Akins, the kosher-style deli near my home in San Diego -- it's almost like eating at a good kosher deli in Brooklyn, but not quite. (I mean, what's up with the palm trees?)

Windows on Parallels grabs the Cmd, Ctrl, Alt/Option and function keys on the Mac. When you're in Parallels, Cmd-Tab rotates you through the running Windows applications, rather than the Mac applications as it does when you're in the Mac environment. To make those keys behave in their normal Mac fashion while in Parallels, you have to click Ctrl-Option/Alt first, which is something that it's easy to forget to do. This can be very annoying -- at times, in my first few days of running Parallels, I thought that my Mac was broken and the Cmd, Ctrl, Alt/Options and function keys had become completely inoperable; I was relieved when I finally figured out the source of the problem and realized I didn't have to take my Mac in to the shop.

Likewise, the minimize, maximize, and close buttons for Windows are in their normal places in Windows, and behave as they do in Windows, rather than as they do in the Mac.

Some apps, such as TextExpander (a text expansion application that, for example, expands "MMW" to "Mitch Wagner") and Quicksilver (which lets you control pretty much everything on your Mac through the keyboard), don't work in the Windows environment.

Fortunately, there are alternatives on the PC, such as ActiveWords ($50), which includes a text expander, program launcher, and simple scripting language. If you prefer freeware, you can use the application launcher Launchy and text-expander Texter.

In short, Parallels means you can have your Mac and run Windows too. Parallels is working on upgrading the software to make Windows apps behave more like Mac apps, and also adding support for graphics standards required to allow Parallels to run many PC games; I'm looking forward to seeing it become even more of a seamless experience.

Parallels, Inc.
Price: $79

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing