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I've been using this on my MacBook Pro for four years now, with no problems. I wanted to be able to run Windows programs on the Mac, including Microsoft Office and ShareScope. I could have bought the Mac version of Office instead, but there was no way I could get ShareScope onto the Mac without Parallels or Boot Camp. With Parallels I can run Mac and Windows programs at the same time, whereas with Boot Camp I'd need to re-boot to switch between them. I've been using Windows for years, but prefer the Mac user interface; this way I can gradually migrate myself to the Mac world without losing the ability to go back to Windows as needed.

I've upgraded Parallels each time OSX has been upgraded, so I'm running 11.2.1 now. I've kept to Windows 7, as it runs my old Office 2007 and ShareScope just fine.

I've been toying with setting up another virtual machine for Ubuntu, so then I'd have Mac, Windows, and Linux programs all running in parallel, easy to switch between them - but haven't got round to that yet. I'm confident that will work fine.

I've dropped a star because of the need to keep paying for upgrades. Whenever OSX gets a facelift to a new version, the Parallels people send out a mail saying that their new version is optimised for the new OSX. It may be that the old version of Parallels runs ok on the updated OSX, but I don't want to take the risk. And you need to pay for Parallels upgrades, which is a drag.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
THE INSTALLATION

Staight out of the box, the CD installed extremely easily guided by the very clear prompt cards, accompanied by a concise and clear instruction manual which is available if needed, but in my case I had no need for it. Within a matter of minutes Parallels desktop is installed on my imac using the Lion operating system: might I suggest that you check for any updates to the Lion OS before installing: standard practice with MAC OS, but worth it just in case. The program asked me whether I wanted to update Parallels 7 too and I did, but it added 15 minutes over my slow broadband to update the system to the latest version. Absolutely no problems with this either and the upgrade installed very easily with the minimum of prompts. Sadly my imac was one of the last ones sold before they changed the configuration of memory and screen size, so I only have 2Gb of memory and with this in mind, parallels recommends that you don't install Windows 7, unless of course you want to upgrade your memory too.

I don't have a spare copy of an operating system and was left with the option of purchasing Windows 7 via Parallels own site (expensive), installing either one of the Linux options or the Google software, or, because I had planned ahead, I had purchased a copy of Windows XP pro from ebay for £28.50: a fully licensed OEM copy, which works a treat is a lot cheaper than Windows 7 and for some of us, the better operating system, more importantly, it runs fine with only 2Gb of memory on my imac. FYI I went to oemworldpc via ebay who provide an excellent service with clear instructions on how to install XP and what to do regarding drivers etc: great website, excellent support and a company I would definitely trust.

Installing Windows XP was easy and whilst time consuming, nothing less than what I was expecting. Overall the total installation took an hour following the easy setup for both: there were a number of other options to allow you to customize the Paralles installation, but I simply went for the standard "what they think is best" option. Very pleased with the options available in regards to being allowed to choose more than one operating system as for those anti-Microsoft amongst us, it does allow them yet another option and demonstrates how flexible this software actually is.

INSTALLING OTHER SOFTWARE

Onto installing Microsoft Office. Very simple, pop in the disc, it was recognised straight away by parallels desktop and it installed, same with upgrading Internet Explorer, which I upgraded from the internet and which works fine. I am installing Visio tomorrow, some specialist project management software, Kapersky internet security and Quicken: all of which I have sorely missed on my Mac and have been forced to use my Windows laptop more than is convenient. Everything works fine including some software which was designed for Windows 95 (obviously XP plays its part here), Quicken, Quick Books and MS Visio all installed and running fine.

IN OPERATION

In operation, Lion obviously has to start first so there is some slight delay in starting Windows, however that is more than outweighed by the fact that you can have Windows/Linux operating side by side and more importantly can copy and paste from one application into another, despite the fact that you are using entirely different operating systems. I am looking forward to seeing how well the software integrates with Mac based products and will update as soon as I have installed it and have some more time.

So far, so good and absolutely delighted. A must have if you are migrating from a WIndows based system to a Mac (which most people I know are doing now). Macs may be stylish, fast and great for graphics, but compared to simplicity of use, you only need to have worked with Office 2008 (I haven't purchased the latest incarnation) to know that the windows based version is much much better. To be able to use familiar WIndows based software in a Mc environment is simply great. I cannot recommend this product enough.

UPDATE

Working great although I have upgraded my memory to 8GB, but the newer imacs with 4GB will be just as good. Everything runs fine and I wished that I had installed this software beforehand rather than use my laptop and imac.

Everything still working fine with absolutely no problems at all regarding this outstanding piece of software.

3 MONTH UPDATE

Still going strong. Nothing seems to clash with this software, I have updated it when prompted: again no problems, I even installed a game recently (Rome Total War) worked fine as does Office 2010 which I purchased for my son. All in all, it remains the best piece of software that I have ever placed on my iMac.
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on 27 October 2011
As time has moved on, I have bought a range of iMac computers with the latest one being the I7 27" model with 16GB of RAM installed in it. This was done as more and more of my client's are buying Apple equipment, and like anyone serious about supporting their clients, they too have to use the equipment that they use, to know what issues may arise, so their client's can be helped out quickly and efficiently.

Through the years, I have never felt the need to look into virtualisation of an operating system, as quite frankly, my business is Windows-based PC's and Servers, and when I need a PC to do something, or to test out anything, I usually have plenty of spare gear to hand.

On the Windows side of things, as the new operating systems have come out, the hardware specifications have increased, so the standard bench kit I use to test and evaluate has had to be upgraded as well.

Microsoft releases Small Business Server 2011 and the likes, the specifications went up on the equipment you had to install it on, and quite frankly, kit wise, I did not have anything around that would make a suitable system to evaluate this operating system on, so that meant it was that time again to buy in some new equipment.

With what I had in mind, the equipment I was looking at, was nearly a thousand pounds for a system, and yes, I could buy cheaper components, but when I buy stuff I try to get something that will last! I was finding it hard to justify that sort of outlay for a system that really was only going to be used for the occasional testing rig, so I kept putting it off and the months rolled on...

One morning while going through my various Twitter feeds, I read a post from @JohnPAtkinson who was using Parallels 6, for running Windows on his Macbook Pro, and he raved about how good it was. As one of the main systems here used is a new I7 16GB iMac, this caught my attention and I went over to the company web site to read up more about this software.

From what I read, it seemed (in theory) that the software would allow me to install just about any operating system I wanted, onto my iMac... but my initial thought was the experience would have to be terrible, as everything would be virtual, rather than dedicated hardware, the path I have always taken... so to say I was sceptical was a bit of an understatement.

So, I downloaded Parallels 7 Desktop, (talk about luck - new release just out) ran the installer, and then proceeded to install Windows 7 Professional to see how things went.

To say I was stunned after the installation is an understatement! The operating system installed perfectly, and ran quickly; so much so that I then installed 3D Studio Max 2010 to see about pushing the whole system's processors and memory as it rendered some footage... and it was blisteringly quick, even while working away on my Mac applications!

After hammering the operating stem and applications further, I installed Office 2010 and then brought the virtual Windows 7 Professional onto the Small Business Server 2008 domain here in the office, and everything ran (and is still running) flawlessly! No matter what I seem to throw at the virtual operating system, it handles it as though it was on it's own PC hardware, and the Mac side just continues to work away as though the other operating system was not there!

So, not only have I save myself nearly £1000.00 in hardware, I am now running the I7 iMac in a way that I never intended it to, and the outlay I had on the I7 iMac actually seems more justified now that I am running such a variety of operating systems at the same time!!

If you are a sceptic (like me) about any application that seems to been hyped up by the tech people online, gushing praise just to get themselves attention, do yourself a favour and download the trial, and install it for yourself. Honestly, you will be impressed at just how well this virtualised system works on your iMac (specifications permitting of course).

Also, the guys at Parallels are easy to reach and interact with via their website, or even better, on Twitter @ParallelsMac. Don't be shy and say hello to them!

As it stands, my main PC system is no longer switched on in the morning and all my PC related work is down on the iMac here running under Parallels Desktop 7. That to me says it all. My trust in the whole "experience" really is one I am more than happy to shout about to my client's, and who knows, maybe in time they will upgrade to Mac equipment rather than Windows PC's... Only time will tell!
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on 17 November 2011
This product is incredible, the whole installation process completed in about 15mins,
don't forget, you do need a genuine Windows disk.

Whilst working in windows, Parallels feels so smooth and natural. You can switch (or even task switch) whilst running Windows or Mac os.

I haven't yet found anything it doesn't like, even genuine Microsoft products or third party windows games.

Definitely a 5 star product and a great price from Amazon.

PS if you have an iPad get the Parallels app, (£2.99) it allows you to use the iPad as a Windows terminal.

Great Stuff.
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on 7 April 2012
Although I have always used Windows at work, I converted to an all-in-one Mac at home about 4 years ago and have been very impressed. Finding recently I needed to run Windows at home as well, the obvious solutions were either to buy a self-contained Windows box to run side-by-side with my Mac, run Windows as a dual-boot on the Mac, or to use VM software such as Parallels. As a writer of professional software my main consideration was stability (I can't afford for my present installation to be compromised), which clearly militated in favour of the separate box solution. But price considerations and the thought of losing even more of my fast-dwindling desk space led me to take what I considered to be the riskier route and look at VM software such as Parallels.

I'm happy to say I have had no problems whatsoever so far with Parallels. Installation took about 15 minutes (a lot less than it takes to install Windows 7 in the VM), and operation has been perfect. All of the minutiae I had worried about before installing (will it work with my Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse?, will it auto-run DVD's properly in Windows?, will the keyboard map correctly? etc etc) were never an issue and today I run both OSs side-by-side without ever having to think about the wonders of being to switch between OSs without even noticing. Within Windows, you can see the MAC drive as a separate drive (Z: for me), and you can copy files from Windows to MAC seamlessly (I suspect the other way is not possible although I haven't really explored the possibility). Ditto cut & paste.

In terms of performance my box is Intel 2.4 GHz Core II Duo with 4GB of RAM of which Parallels uses the maximum 1.5 GB for Windows 7. I run reasonably resource heavy apps such as a C++ compiler on both Windows and MAC and the machine copes, although I get the feeling you wouldn't want to consider a spec much lower than this. I use Parallels in a separate OS window and so can't comment on the alternative where Windows apps appear as MAC apps. And as for Parallels versus other VM software, reviews for both Parallels and VMWare Fusion were good and my particular choice of Parallels is not a strong comment on either, rather more pot luck.

So all-in-all I would say if you are looking at VM software as a solution to running Mac OS X and Windows 7 together then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Parallels as a cost-effective and simple solution, if you can't afford or don't want to run separate boxes.
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A lot of work has gone into this product, and this shows in what is a straightforward installation and setup process. I transferred a Windows XP system from an old machine, and Parallels comes with software you can install on your old PC (from the CD) to facilitate the transfer of everything (system, applications, documents) onto your new 'virtual' system running inside the Mac. All you need is an ethernet cable.

I thought performance was superb on my iMac with 8GB RAM. However, I wasted many hours trying to get an old train simulator to work, to no avail, despite everything apparently being set up correctly.

The main advantages of using Parallels over Boot Camp are (1) instant switching between Mac and Windows environments, (2) no need to reformat your HD to create a Windows partition, and (3) it's probably easier to copy across a system from an old PC if, like me, your system didn't come with Windows discs. Boot Camp is, however, free (subject to having Windows discs), and may provide better performance/compatibility for games.

I think this is definitely a product that you'll love if it works for you. You may be able to download a trial version if you look around, to see whether it meets your needs. There are also some fairly useful forums discussing compatibility issues. But be warned, if you find something that doesn't work, it can be a black hole, sucking away your time to try to get it fixed. Also, as the Mac grows in popularity, the need to run Windows apps seems to be becoming more niche.
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on 26 July 2012
Buyers should be aware that historically Parallels Desktop versions have become obsolete with upgrades to the Mac OS.

Version 5 became obsolete with Lion OS, so less than a year ago I upgraded to Parallels Desktop Six at a cost of almost £40. Now with the introduction of Mountain Lion OS, Parallels Desktop 6 is obsolete. Obsolete software in less than a year.

Parallels claim that the upgrade offered is good value for money, but to put in comparison the Mac OS upgrade cost £13.99 and I use it for hours every day. I can't justify the cost of upgrading Parallels Desktop for the few times I require Windows software every year.

Buyer beware!
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VINE VOICEon 4 December 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't have a Mac desktop or laptop (I actually run Ubuntu as I don't like Microsoft), so I had to run this on someone else's computer. I consider Macs to be superior to Windows so I personally would not endorse such a product, but there can still be advantages.

First of all you'll want to make sure that your Mac is very high-spec with lots of free hard drive space and about 4gb of memory. Don't try to run this on an older system as you'll find it stiff and slow. It can be handy for teaching kids how to effective use both operating systems (as they will probably co-exist for some time). The systems to have to be completely segregated either as you can move files back and forth. I still prefer dedicated hardware, but the Parallels packages will save you money on buying a whole new desktop/laptop.

A worthy investment, just make sure your Mac has the power to run it fully.
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on 15 January 2012
Although I have been a Mac OSX user for a number of years, I recently decided to retire my Windows PC in favour of my Macbook mid 2010 (not a Macbook pro), this runs Lion and I have upgraded it to 4gig RAM, just to give context.

I explored the various options available, or rather the ones I had used before, being VMWare and Qemu. Both products did the job they are designed to do, but neither had the integration I desired (they dont claim to have, so no negative reaction there).

I had first seem parallels many years back and was impressed enough then, so I downloaded the trial. I wanted the option to boot the Mac natively in Windows, so Boot Camp was in order, this proved very easy and Windows 7 installed without a great deal of effort. I then rebooted into OSX and created the Parallels VM, pointing it at my boot camp partition, gave the VM a little extra memory (the default is a bit low in my opinion) and it worked an absolute treat.

My need for windows is for .NET development, and Visual Studio appears very happy, I love being able to simply switch between windows apps and MacOS apps, and even more the sharing of default applications for opening movies/music/web sites/etc.

There is fine enough control over the hardware settings and the defaults are fairly decent. It's worth exploring the options and using the wealth of information available on the net to get the perfect result for your needs.

All in all, I am very impressed with this product and thus far (3 months of heavy usage) it hasn't let me down once, but I would suggest to prospective buyers that your experience will hugely vary dependant on RAM installed in your machine, 4 gig appears to be a good amount.
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For virtualisation applications on the Mac you have a number of options. The free option is Oracle's Virtualbox and it's a fine option, it's powerful and infinitely configurable. The paid options are VMWare Fusion and Parallels and both are highly regarded in the tech press. The new Parallels app offers the ability to virtualise Mac OSX, allowing you to run something like Snow Leopard in a virtual machine on your Lion desktop.

I've used Parallels 7 with Windows Vista Ultimate, PC-BSD 9, Ubuntu 11.10 and a number of other linux distributions. Performance in Windows Vista on my 27" iMac is perfectly acceptable and very useable. Best of all, it provides the option of using your Windows applications on your OSX desktop side by side, dispensing with the traditional desktop furniture.

Performance in Linux and BSD is just as good, but check the usual support forums for any oddities with the current versions. PC-BSD would only work once a particular version had been released.

Where Parallels comes into its own is with the accompanying iOS application. This allows me to view and use my virtual machines and my OSX desktop from downstairs in the lounge using my iPad or iPhone. Control is pretty clunky and not very precise, but if you are running a load of updates to your Windows VM or waiting for a long process to complete being free to get on with other things whilst you wait and still keep an eye on things is incredibly useful.

Unlike Virtualbox the Parallels user interface is a lot more polished and in many ways it is easier to use. Default settings usually work and it is rare that I need to delve into the finer details to make changes. You simply load the application, follow the prompts and point towards the ISO file or disk you want to install from.

As much as I like Parallels, my advice would be to first check out Virtualbox to see if it will do what you want, but if you want to control your virtual machines from iOS or run an OSX desktop virtually, this is an excellent way to do it.
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