Parallels quietly unveiled a new beta version of Parallels Desktop for Mac, its software that makes it possible for Intel-based Macs to run Windows operating systems and software without needing to be rebooted. It’s available for download now, and is free for registered users. Parallels Desktop for Mac costs $79.
With Parallels Desktop for Mac installed, an Intel-based Mac can run Windows XP and other x86-based operating systems, including older versions of Windows and versions of Linux, inside a window on Mac OS X as a “Virtual Machine.” This is distinctly different from Apple’s Boot Camp software, which enables Intel Macs to run Windows after being restarted.
New to Mac Beta Build 3036 is improved usability; a “Virtual Machines” catalog that lets you view all the virtual machines you may have installed, if you run more than one instance of Parallels Desktop; one-click Virtual Machine aliases; a resizable main window; auto-adjusting screen resolution and the ability to drag and drop files and folders between Windows and Mac.
Also of import is the ability to use a Boot Camp partition — so you don’t need to maintain separate installations for Boot Camp and Parallels, which will help to conserve hard disk space (and reduce licensing issues with Windows).
Other changes have also been made, including better USB peripheral performance and 50 percent better graphics performance on some applications.