This is the second part of our review of Parallels Desktop for Mac 2.5. To read the first part, click here.
See also - Reviews: Parallels Desktop 3.0 - run Vista on a Mac
Hardware support is excellent in Parallels. Like most virtualisation utilities, you install a tools pack, which is largely a driver set that allows your guest operating system to make use of your host operating system's access to the hardware. Wireless networking, ethernet connections, USB 2.0, audio and video are all extremely well supported by the Parallels Tools, requiring no configuration on your part.
Another cool new feature recently added by Parallels is the ability to run Apple Boot Camp-supported Windows installations in a Parallels virtual machine. In other words, it lets you access your Boot Camp Windows installation without having to restart your Mac.
Like any piece of software, Parallels Desktop for Mac has a couple of shortcomings. We were unable to use
keyboard commands to copy and paste strings of text from a Mac program window to a Windows program window or vice versa. Use Command, C to copy text from a Mac browser and then Ctrl, V to paste the text into a Windows text editor doesn't work. We have to go the context menu route and choose Cut on one end and Paste on the other.
A slightly more frustrating problem is that Parallels, like many virtualisation programs, uses a shared-folder approach to allow folder-based navigation to files and folders from either side. Parallels' system doesn't really allow you access to Windows; the special folder access appears only on the Windows side. More important, though, Windows applications don't all support this folder access fully. If you have a program that sets a default start folder, and you want that folder to be on the Mac, you may find that it won't work properly. But that's the whole of my criticism about Parallels.
Learn more: Parallels has an FAQ that offers more information.
Scot Finnie is online editorial director of Computerworld.