Parallels Desktop 1.0 for Mac OS X
Developer: Parallels (product page)
System requirements: Any Mac with an Intel CPU, Mac OS X 10.4.6, 512MB of RAM, 30MB free drive space
Price: US$79.99 (US$49.99 through July 15)
Move over emulation, virtualization is in and it's hotter than two Jessica Albas wresting the devil himself in a pit of molten steel. It's no contest, virtualization has it all: multiple operating systems running on the same machine at nearly the full speed of the host's processor with each system seamlessly networking with the next. Add to that the fact that it's cheaper than getting a new machine and you have the guaranteed latest craze. Not even the Hula Hoop can stop this one.
Okay, virtualization isn't totally new–it's just new to Macs and Parallels Desktop is the first out the door with a 1.0 product for Mactels. For those that are just getting to the party, here's a bit of a breakdown on virtualization. The idea is that program acts as a virtual machine (VM) and its job is to be the PC (one of the more boring drama classes), tricking the client OS into thinking it's inside a real x86 machine with a physical hard drive, keyboard, Ethernet card, etc., when in reality, it's merely grabbing unused CPU cycles and RAM inside another OS to do it's thing.
The benefits are pretty clear over a real PC: It's running on the Mac you know and love but you're not sacrificing access to the occasional Windows-only app that you might need. Maybe you have a copy of Office XP for Windows and don't want to shell out for the Mac version. Sure, you could load up Apple's Boot Camp, but using a program like Parallels–or its competitors VMWare, WINE and MS' Virtual PC–means you don't have to reboot just to use that accounting program at work.
It is a great prospect and now even Apple is recommending running Parallels on their Get A Mac site:
That's the corporate equivalent of Jesus endorsing your sandals. Click for high res.
When that page went up, the price of Parallels not-so-coincidentally went up from $50 to $80, so let this be a lesson to us all: never say "wow, that's so cheap" on a public forum again. Still, that's still cheaper than the $129 charges for the Virtual PC standalone package and if it works as advertised, it's hard to compare the two. Parallels promises to be a big upgrade from the pokey and painful Virtual PC emulation. So let's see if it's the cheap and fast hydra PC we've all been waiting for.
Minimum requirementsAny Intel Mac (doesn't require a machine with VT-x support) A minimum of 512 MB of RAM, 1 GB recommended 30 MB of available HD space for Parallels plus enough room for the VM OS OS X 10.4.6 Test HardwareMacBook Pro 2.0 2 GB RAM OS X 10.4.6 / 10.4.7 (both tested)
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