Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac: speed, power, and fun

Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac gets a 50 percent speed boost and more than 50 new features and enhancements to go up against VMware's Fusion 2.0 product.

Parallels has announced the release of its latest version of the company's desktop virtualization solution for the Mac, Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0. The new version adds more than 50 features and product enhancements, including the ability to run Leopard Server in a virtual machine.

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It sounds like one of the complaints Parallels often heard from its customers had to do with performance issues. So the Parallels team answered with a performance makeover with 4.0. The company claims that improvements have been made to the platform to include a speed boost up to 50% faster than the previous version. They also updated the hypervisor technology, the Adaptive Hypervisor, to dynamically allocate resources to meet user needs. Application responsiveness is further enhanced as the virtualization engine has been optimized to consume 15-30% less resources than previous versions. Parallels has obviously spent a significant amount of time focusing on performance.

To further increase the power of the new platform, Parallels' users can now use up to eight CPUs and 8GB of memory to a virtual machine. And users can also support 64-bit virtual machines. That is of course as long as the underlying system hardware is present. Battery life has also been extended for Parallels operating on a notebook, giving users back about 20% of their typical battery life while running a virtual machine.

Graphics performance has also been improved with additional support added for DirectX 9.0, DirectX Pixel Shader 2.0, OpenGL 2.0, and up to 256MB of video memory. This should be enough power to suffice the casual gamer, although hardcore gamers will probably still install native.

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Coherence has also been updated. The Windows status tray is now integrated into the Mac's UI. Now when you switch to Coherence, the Windows taskbar items move to the Mac's menubar. A new viewing mode called Modality has been added to the system as well. It allows the user to set the level of transparency of the guest operating system so that the user can view the activity of a virtual machine while in the background. Parallels also added Safe Mode booting for the virtual machines as well as scheduled snapshots for added peace of mind.

The software is available now and priced at $79.99. Current customers can upgrade their existing software for only $39.99 until November 30, 2008. Users that purchased Version 3.0 on or after Sept. 1, 2008, qualify for a free upgrade to Version 4.0.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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