Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 Brings Cloud & Performance Updates, Enhancements to Windows 8

Posted on August 29, 2013 10:33 AM by Rob Williams

With any software upgrade, you’d expect a big collection of improvements and new features, but Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 seems to take things to a new level, even adding some features to guest Windows 8 installs that some native users may wish they had.

Let’s start from the top. Performance improvements include +40% to disk performance, +25% to shut down speed, +20% to suspend speed and +15% to graphics – on the graphics front, DirectX 10 and OpenGL are fully supported.

Cloud integration is a major part of Parallels Desktop 9, with the host and guest being able to easily tie into the same iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive accounts in order to reduce or remove the number of local duplicate files. While in your Windows guest, folders for these services can be found in the shortcut list to the left of any open folder.

Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 - Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows 7

One of Mac OS X’s most popular recent features is Power Nap, one that allows your computer to run at a very low-level (aka: almost sleep), allowing tasks to run in the background. With the latest version of Parallels, this functionality extends to Windows apps as well. Other neat tie-ins include Thunderbolt and Firewire device support inside of your virtual machine, and Mountain Lion’s dictionary gesture extended to Windows apps.

Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 doesn’t simply support and run Windows 8, it actually enhances it in a couple of ways. You might be able to guess the main enhancement: A dedicated Start menu. Parallels seems to “get”, what Microsoft doesn’t. Further, if Windows 8 is used in a unity mode, you’ll be able to run Metro-based applications in their own window – something that’s not possible with a native Windows 8 install (although it could be possible with a hack).

Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 - Windows 8 Start Menu

Sticky multi-monitor setup is yet another cool feature, allowing you to use Windows full-screen on one monitor while keeping Mac OS X to your main monitor. Plus, the virtual machine wizard has been improved to become even easier – namely on machines that don’t have DVD drives.

While it gets a minor mention, Linux guest support has been improved in version 9 of the software as well.

Current Parallels Desktop for Mac customers (7 or 8) can upgrade to 9 for $50, while new licenses are $80. Student licenses can be had for $40, while the “Switch to Mac” edition is priced at $100. If you’re an existing customer, you can upgrade to 9 today via this link. Everyone else, hit-up Parallel’s site on September 5.

  • e550mercedes

    I have Parallels 8 and it works great, running faster than VMWare’s products. However, clearly version 9 appears, from your quick review, to be a must upgrade from version 8. My biggest problem with version 8 is Linux support, or lack there of. Parallels provides excellent support for Ubuntu, Android, Chrome and, naturally, Windows, automatically downloading them from the web, but trying to install other Linux distros, though doable, is more of a pain, so if version 8 can improve support on the Linux side than it would easily be worth the upgrade price for me. I run Linux on my Windows and Mac machines and when it comes to Linux support I find that Fusion is far the better choice, so, if Parallels can match VMWares Fusion’s Linux support then I’ll be all over 9!

    • Rob Williams

      Given the fact that Parallels listed improved Linux support at the end of the bullet-list, I can’t imagine that support has enhanced THAT much. I am really not sure the demand for those on OS X to run Linux is that high… certainly not as high as those wanting (or needing) to run Windows.

      It’s a little too bad that Parallels seemed to have virtually (no pun) given up on a Windows version of the app.

      • e550mercedes

        According to one reviewer, linked below, support for Linux may indeed be better. Not sure if it will be as good as the excellent Linux support in VMWare’s Fusion for Mac, but the author did state:

        “I downloaded Linux Mint and found out that Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac recognized the downloaded “.DMG” file, offering me a chance to install the virtual machine instantly and without further ado. You can also opt to do it the old, hard way.”

        I’m hoping that this is indeed the case as Linux support in Desktop 8 was anything but great.

        • Rob Williams

          A 500 word “review” of a hypervisor isn’t a review at all, especially when the reviewer calls an .iso file a .”DMG”… *shakes head*

          Nothing there tells us that Linux support has been improved. The ability to install an OS via .iso is something that’s new to 9 in general, and Parallels just happens to have profiles in place to detect certain distros when they’re loaded. I’ll give them props though; VMware doesn’t recognize Linux Mint.

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