These days, running Windows on your Mac is pretty straightforward thanks to virtualisation software. You can even manage it without paying a single penny thanks to VirtualBox, but the truth is, if you're serious about running Windows apps on your Mac, then Parallels Desktop is the tool to choose.
Parallels allows you to emulate just about any flavour of Windows as well as older builds of OS X and even Linux too. You can set up as many virtual machines as you want - your only limit is available disk space, the system requirements of your chosen VM and whether or not you have valid install media (and product key).
Over the years Parallels has evolved its feature set to make running Windows apps on your Mac as seamless as possible - you can set up your VM in Coherence mode for example where the Windows desktop is hidden away and your applications run directly from your Mac desktop in their own window, with key Windows tools such as the Start menu accessible from the menu bar. It works well for those who aren't interested in anything than getting certain apps to run on their Mac.
Setting up your VM has always been straightforward too, but from version 10 it gets a whole lot easier, with redesigned wizards and intelligent presets (such as your regional settings coming from your Mac) speeding things up further.
VMs have always been a drain on system resources, and while you can't expect to enjoy the same level of performance from one, Parallels Desktop 10 takes steps to close the performance gap further, promising faster loading times for documents (up to 48%), reduced memory usage (up to 10%) and even better power usage (save up to 30% on battery life).
Version 10 promised to make use of Yosemite's new features to improve integration between your Windows VM and the Mac desktop too. Other integrated improvements include Windows apps being automatically added to the dock when installed, for example, while users can now drag and drop files to the VM’s dock icon to open them in Windows.
Although a little pricey - the cost of Parallels is more than a copy of Windows - if you're serious about emulating Windows or Windows apps on your Mac, or want access to older versions of OS X for compatibility purposes, it's the go-to virtualisation app you need.
What's new in v11?
- Ready for Windows 10 and El Capitan. Run Windows 10 in a virtual machine with ease.
- Lightning Fast Performance. For Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, boot time and shut down time can be as much as 50% faster. Battery life is extended up to 15%. Virtual machines suspend up to 20% faster. Many tasks in Windows up to 20% faster.
- Improved Battery Life. New “Travel Mode” temporarily shuts down resource intensive services in order to extend battery life while away from a power source.
- Always on Cortana. Brings Windows goodness to Mac. Use Cortana, the Microsoft speech enabled virtual assistant, even when Windows 10 is not the forefront application.
Gets better with each new release - if you're serious about running Windows apps on your Mac, Parallels Desktop is the tool you need.