Parallels for Mac cozies up to Vista
Parallels for Desktop 3.0 improves on a good thing with 3D graphics acceleration, snapshots, and usability tweaksFollow @pvenezia
After installation of Vista, I installed Office Ultimate 2007. In total, the Vista and Office installation required nearly 16GB of disk space -- and Parallels' default disk size for the Vista install was 30GB, which was also the total free space on the MacBook's hard drive.
Windows Vista inside
Although Parallel's Coherence mode isn't new in the new version, it's still notable due to the relatively seamless nature of application presentation. In Coherence mode, the VM desktop isn't trapped within the Parallels window; instead, applications running within the VM appear as unique windows on the OS X desktop, and application interaction is functionally identical to native OS X apps. For those wishing to run only one or two Windows applications on OS X, this is surely the ticket. I did experience some significant sluggishness at times when running the Vista VM, always tied to heavy disk I/O. With a faster system -- and especially a system with a faster disk I/O subsystem -- these problems will likely be reduced.
The Parallels Explorer lets you browse VM virtual disks without powering up the VM itself. It offers a rather rudimentary navigation interface that mimics the OS X finder, and allows drag-and-drop file access. I found it functional and surprisingly fast.
One definite downside with Parallels Desktop 3.0 is that even with the new direct graphics controller access features, Vista's Aero effects aren't supported. The issue is that Parallels supports DirectX 8.1, but Aero requires DirectX 9.0. In fact, I've heard that the 3D acceleration is only functional under Windows XP for the moment, but I couldn't corroborate this statement before press time.
All in all, Parallels Desktop 3.0 is an amazing product for the $79.95 price. It integrates very well into OS X, looking and behaving like a native application while providing outstanding functionality. Make no mistake -- running two heavy operating systems on a single system will result in periodic slowness, especially during high disk I/O operations. But Parallels handles the task elegantly, and it certainly fits hand in glove with Mac OS X.