Parallels Desktop is my favorite virtualization tool. It allows me to to run applications that are not available on my Mac. The program never ceases to amaze me how Parallels Desktop is able to boot up a Windows virtual machine in less than a minute and how fast it works once it has booted up.
The application lets you run your Windows virtual machines, or VMs, in three different modes: Full Screen, Coherence and Modality.
In Full Screen, your VMs run as a separate entity from Mac OS X. This mode is ideal if you have multiple displays at your disposal. This is the way I use it: Windows on one monitor and Mac OS X on another one. Files can be transferred by dragging them both from and to the VM and Mac OS X still can open files on your Mac with applications from your VM if you configure it that way.
The Coherence mode integrates both the VM and Mac OS X. VM applications run as if they were Mac apps. This is also a great way to run a VM, especially when you only have one monitor.
Lastly, Modality makes the virtual machine transparent, and it runs on top of other applications. This way you can keep an eye on it without switching back to it.
A lot has happened since version 5.0 of Parallels Desktop. A ton of improvements have been made, especially to improve performance. Of course, the support for the newest operating systems has been added. With the advent of Retina displays, it was also important to have support for that, and version 8.0 has added that as well. Fixes for old problems and those that appeared with newer versions of Mac and Windows have also been addressed. There are new features that make installation of guest operating systems easier and faster. Overall, most changes have to do with performance and stability. To be honest, I don't think Parallels Desktop has crashed since I upgraded to version 8 and I have been running it quite a lot.
- It still has the edge in terms of stability and performance
- Three different view modes
- Support for all major operating systems
- Incredibly easy to set up and use
- Retina support