Parallels Desktop for Mac — the software that lets Intel Mac users install and run Windows and other operating systems side-by-side along with Mac OS X — has added a new feature called Installation Assistant. The software automates the installation of Windows XP or Vista RC2. A free update for registered users, Parallels Desktop for Mac costs $79.99.
With Installation Assistant installed, you simply select what version of Windows you want to install, enter the activation key, name and company, and then insert the Windows installation disc and click “Finish.” Installation Assistant takes care of the rest of the installation process for you.
Installation Assistant also automatically installs Parallels Tools, a utility that enables cross-OS file sharing and cutting and pasting. Sound support, video support and virtual machine usability have all been imprved, as well.
Installation Assistant also comes in handy if you’re running other versions of Windows, a Linux distribution, or other x86-compatible operating systems using Parallels Desktop for Mac, according to the developer.
Also new in this release is Shared Networking, which makes it easier to connect a virtual machine running on Parallels to the Internet through cable modem, LAN, broadband card, Wi-Fi or dial-up modem connections — without any manual network reconfiguration. It also “hides” those virtual machines from the outside world by making multiple IP addresses appear as one.