Parallels Desktop is a virtualization tool for Mac OS X. It allows you to virtualize several operating systems from within your Mac. It supports most major operating systems like Windows XP, Vista and 7, some distributions of linux, etc. It has an array of tools, that help the virtualized operating system and the native OS to integrate and make switching between them a smooth experience.
Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion are the two best virtualization tools for the Mac. They are very close in terms of functionality and performance. Both offer a great experience with quality software. The choice between those two often boils down to personal preference.
I like that Parallels Desktop is a bit more intuitive when it comes to installing new OSs. I am not saying VMWare makes it hard, but Parallels works a little better there. However, VMWare was actually a bit faster installing a copy of Windows XP.
Parallels Desktop has an extensive array of integration tools. It makes it easy for you to share folders on Mac with other operating systems, that are virtualized. It has a mode that hides your Windows desktop and sends active applications running in Windows to your Mac dock, so that you can run them, as if they were native Mac applications. The tool pack, that is installed inside your virtualized OSs, makes dragging and dropping files from and to the VMs an easy task.
In terms of performance, Parallels is clearly the fastest and most responsive virtualization tool available. It never made my Mac give me the dreaded spinning wheel, even when at full load I was able to use other applications. VMWare simply kills my computer, when I'm running the demanding applications.
All in all, right now, Parallels is the fastest virtualization tool available. VMWare and Parallels are equal in terms of features and integration. Both can do the job stupendously.
- Great performance
- Great integration with Mac OS X
- Works perfect with Windows 7
- Annoying effects when switching modes