Parallels has announced yet another new version of its popular desktop virtualization platform for Apple Mac OS X: Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac. It should hit store shelves by Sept. 14.
The new version brings with it an array of improvements and new features. With them, Parallels is calling version 6 the "fastest, smartest, and most powerful" Mac OS X virtualization solution for the Mac yet. Since most new releases don't take a step backward (at least, not on purpose), this is somewhat expected going from one major version to another. The company is also promising that the new version will be faster and more tightly integrated into Mac OS X, with a total of 80 new or improved features on hand. So what's under the hood and being made available?
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Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac will use a 64-bit engine and support 64-bit Windows OSes, which, according to the company, will help it run Windows applications 41 percent faster than the previous version. It will also help Microsoft Windows guest operating systems start nearly twice as fast as they do currently -- although suspending and resuming a virtual machine will usually offer faster response times and may prove a better alternative than using a cold boot.
The company is also focused on improving graphics performance, an area where Parallels already made claims of superiority over the competition. With the latest version, Parallels says that 3-D graphic benchmark testing shows a 40 percent performance increase over the previous version. As a result, consumers can play a wider range of more modern, graphics-intensive, Windows-based games within a virtual machine environment.
Keep in mind, graphic performance increases are not absolute and will vary from one system to the next. Some Mac machines have more advanced graphics cards than others and will, therefore, have different 3-D capabilities. Also, these 3DMark numbers will vary across individual applications; not everything will show a 40 percent improvement. Still, this advancement in 3-D graphics performance is impressive.
In addition to graphic improvements, the latest version supports 5.1-channel surround sound, which can provide rich, immersive audio for games, videos, and music.