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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2006
Initial reaction to this software was not good. I tried running it on my Intel Mac Mini with 512Mb Ram and performance was woeful. The OS (windows XP) would not install cleanly on the first few attempts. Finally it loaded but performace was not very good.

Having upgraded my RAM to 2Gb, I can honestly say the Parallels Virtual PC is the fastest XP machine I have ever used. Performance is absolutely stunning. If you want to run Windows on your Mac - and have enough memory - this has got to be the way to do it.
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on 16 March 2007
If you've got a top end Intel Core 2 Duo processor Mac (desktop or laptop) then this is possibly the most impressive thing you'll ever see or use because "Parallels" will convert your machine into a fast and incredibly high resolution Windows machine. Set the screen resolution in the Windows "window" to its maximum level (1538 x 921 pixels), make sure that the Parallels Tools are installed correctly, select "Full Screen" mode and there it is... quite amazing... looks better than the any PC you've ever seen, works just like a PC, lets you seamlessly transfer files between the Mac window and the PC window, and transforms your Windows versions of Word, Excel, Publisher and even Photoshop into the most beautiful experiences. And, when you get bored with them you're only a keystroke away from watching the screen flip round to reveal your Mac.

Good enough? Well there's more to come because it also, even more amazingly, lets you run any Windows application program as a window right within the Mac screen (at equally high resolutions) just as though it was one of your Mac applications... seamlessly, stable and fast.

The downsides? You need a fully spec'd Mac with a reasonable amount of memory to get the best out of it (this review is based on 2.33ghz MacBook Pro with 3 gigabytes of memory) but then you're getting, in effect, two top end machines in one. You need to spend some time configuring Parallels correctly, particularly in integrating the Windows side into any wireless network, but the installation instructions are clear and they work. It's no good for processor intensive 3D games (you need Apple's Boot Camp for that, athough this requires a lengthy reboot between the Mac & Windows environments). Oh yes, and you need a copy of Windows XP... a fairly small additional price to pay for such a brilliant piece of software innovation.

Apple "geeks" may continue to argue that OSX is better than Windows but the truth is that a top end Intel Mac with Parallels running on it is the perfect solution... a PC that runs OSX at its highest levels and Windows at a level that's pretty close to any dedicated, top-end PC out there, with instant switching between the two in a single, fully integrated environment. Incredible.
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on 16 March 2007
This piece of software is briiliant! I managed to get everything installed without a single hiccup. It did it in less than 30 minutes. Amazing! The only downside is it doesn't tell you how to install USB printers. You need to set your printer to sharing in the Printer/Fax options in OS X. And then download Bonjour from the Apple website. Easy as 1.. 2.. 3.

All my apps work. Although if you are thinking of using it for 3D games. Don't bother. It doesn't work. If you want to run PC games on your Mac you need Windows XP service pack 2 and download a free copy of bootcamp. But apart from that it good for just about every windows app.
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on 7 December 2006
I downloaded the trial version of this from the Parallels American site and was very impressed. I then thought I could legitamise it using the registration key from a boxed CD bought from Amazon. Not so. For some reason UK keys do not work with American downloads. So I thought I would load the CD version, only to have this repeatedly crash my new iMac every time I tried to start a virtual machine. The reason is that there are still some old retail versions in the system that predate the latest Intel Core 2 Duo Macs, and will not run on these machines. Much angst and ferreting about on the Parallels forums revealed that I was not the first to run into this problem. You have to load and register the old retail version then download the latest build using the program's inbuilt update function. Finally you have a working latest-build version of Parallels, at which point, it is as I said a really great addition to Mac functionality.
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on 5 March 2007
I was impressed with this software even before I bought it. The Purple Rage UK support were extremely helpful in answering my pre-purchase questions. Installing XP was a breeze once I had patched together the XP installation with SP2 into an ISO image as required by Parallels.

So far, so brilliant. One of many great things is that the software installs XP for you using defaults and allows you to get on with other stuff in the background. Once installed the software ran and much quicker than I've experienced before. Running as a virtual machine it allows you to do really cool things such as allow direct access to files on the Mac desktop from within Windows (though so far I've only used drag and drop which worked fine), a new functionailty allows you to run Windows apps as you would Mac ones direct from the Dock.

It automatically shared the Mac's network access so no config problems, the only thing I haven't tried yet is printing. I have a Wireless printer so might need to configure that. Really, it's astonishing. When you hit one of two key combinations to transfer to full screen mode it does so using the swinging windows effect that you get with the Mac's remote control and it switches almost imperceptibly. So far, no hassles at all which is more than I can say for other times I've installed XP!

OK, I've only installed Anti-Virus and firewall software so far and won't install any more until I've upgraded it to Vista but I am more impressed with this package than anything I've tried in more than 20 years of using PCs at home. Hopefully, this review won't blow up in my face when it fails to function but I will update it if I have any problems.

Now I can have the ease and comparative security of using a Mac but retain total compatability with my Windows apps when on the road. It's only a shame I can't give it ten out of 5! I don't suffer badly behaved software gladly and so I'm always pleased to find a program that works out of the box and one that meets a real need and is both well designed and fully functioned is a dream so apologies if I've waxed too lyrical!

Six Weeks Later, a few more points...

Each VM can be set up to share whatever resources you want which means that you can - for example - have a configuration which can't access the internet and therefore won't get infected by viruses etc. Having installed a basis XP VM I cloned it (very simple process), installed my faithful old games, updated them, made sure they were working OK then switched off the network, updates etc. so I now have a dedicated games machine!

You have to remember that your Windows VM is prone to viruses so you should take the same precautions as you would on a stand-alone Windows machine. I have a "clean" XP config with basic software on it which I only use to keep itself up-to-date and can then use to clone from. I also have a "working" one which is my non-games XP machine. Cloning also provides a way of backing without using backup software. It's quick and easy.

There is an excellent compactor which reduces the amount of disk space a VM uses considerably. I have four VMs installed but with my Mac Os and software still have around 30 of my 95 gigabtytes left! Make sure you use it once you're happy with your VM set-up as there is a default machine size which has proven far too big for any of my uses so far.

Having failed to notice that there is already a "Prepare VM for Vista" tool included and asked support how to do it DOH!, I installed Vista on a clean clone with no hassle at all. The only issues I had were XP-Vista software compatibility ones, the OS itself ran fine in the VM and continues to do so. I must say I prefer XP!

I use one or other of my VMs just about every day now and - touch wood - so far have had no real problems at all. Forget Boot Camp, if you're a Windows user thinking of switching to the Mac without losing your Windows programs and data this program makes it not just a breeze but a pleasure.
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on 18 April 2007
This is probably the worst purchase I have made in years. What nobody tells you when you buy this item is that the activation code included with this item is a 'regional' code which marks it out as a UK retail edition. This may not seem like a problem until you find out that not all versions of the software support regional codes. If you type the code suplied with this box into the latest version (as of 07/03/07) or any of the release candidates released before hand you will simply get a message saying 'This code is not supported by this version'.

The code will work with the version supplied with the box, however, this presents two problems. The first is that the version you get is over a year old and is missing most of the useful features advertied on the website (such as USB2 support, external hard drive support, incresed graphical performance, drag and drop file sharing, etc). The second, and most annoying, is that if you have installed a newer version on your Mac (ever) it will not even let you install it. Even if you uninstall it will still say 'A newer version of this software already exists on this system'. The only way around this is either to reintall OSX from scratch and reformat the drive or to do something incredibly clever and incomprehensile with unix scripts.

I have emailed Parallels twice and Avanquest (the UK distribution company) but neither have replied and the forum community seem stumped. Couple this with the fact that it does not support OpenGL or DirectX drivers, meaning that it is unable to run any game less that 12 years old, makes this a worthless investment. £45 for a box and an instruction book, sounds unreasonable when I put it like that doesn't it?
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on 4 July 2007
Parallels works well out of the box and auto-updates itself to the latest version off the web. If you buy after 10th May 2007 you are entitled to the free upgrade to v3 that includes DirectX support allowing you to play many Windows games.

My only gripe - and this is common to all virtualisation tools I have used on Linux, Mac and Windows - is that the USB support is rather flakey and has the potential to make USB devices vanish from OSX necessitating a reboot.

Still, if you have a strong need to run XP applications as I do and are not too worried about USB connectivity, Parallels is an excellent solution and is rock solid (no crashes, reboots or otherwise in 2 months).
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on 16 August 2007
I have been a PC user for many years and finally decided to purchse a Mac mainly due to Photoshop CS3 but also because of the ability to run some of my PC only apps on the Mac too using Parallels. I was concerned about the reports of the lack of email support from the guys at Parallels, but I installed it anyway and I have been blown away with how good this software is. I now have the perfect system - the beauty and ease of the Mac and Windows too! I have loaded some of my Windows only apps, including Dreamweaver, AutoRoute and ActiveSync. I can sync my PDA through Windows ActiveSync, update my website with Dreamweaver etc etc. My conclusion - buy this product and enjoy
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on 23 February 2007
My review is about the latest RC3 update only available on the website.

It's too easy to have high expectations, however like most computing solutions these days be prepared for some angst getting this software to work properly.

Unfortunately don't expect any technical support - they never replied to any email requests for the last few months, so I've often not bothered to fix issues - hence the software has never met its potential.

Don't even bother with the website - the FAQ doesn't address the RC3 update and is even confusing about how registered users can obtain a license (the retail licence for many countries doesn't work with the update). There's no forum.

I can't get the software to recognise USB devices. Win XP and Parallels tools have frozen a couple of times during installation. I couldn't record sounds in an earlier version of the software. It also doesn't work with Bluetooth. So there are a few anomolies to live with - there may be others.

It would be a great software if it worked 'out of the box'.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2007
I had finally decided to try out parallels desktop this week so I downloaded the trial. I spent ages digging around my house for my copy of XP but when I found it things were pretty smooth. Parallels was very helpful in preparing the virtual machine and it loaded instantly. Onto windows setup.

Windows formats the disk and starts installing. 10 hours later it is still installing (and my mac won't respond). I get brave and pull the plug. Next morning I go back to installing windwos. Parallels again starts fine but windows setup dies (probably because it was interrupted).

I delete the virtual machine and start again, 3h later windows is working (just). It is functional for those of you out there who wish to use word (real word, not the mediocre Office For Mac) however for gamers hoping to combine the excellence of Mac with the wide reaching scope of PC games you really need boot camp.

Even GTA3 will not run on it due to there not being enough video memory (that could be the games problem). Parallels really does slow down OSX and the boasted seemless integration really is a very hopeful assessment.

Summary:

It will let you use windows on you Mac, it just doesn't perform like a dedicated system does.
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