Parallels BETAThe latest build of Parallels Desktop, the Virtual Machine software which allows Intel Macs to run Linux and Windows in a Mac window alongside Mac OS X, has just been released and I’ve been running it all day – so here’s a quick look at it.

For anyone unsure about using Beta software, don’t worry. This is very stable. I’ve been running Photoshop, some video editing software called TMpegEnc and everything worked just great.

If you avidly watch the videos section on as much as I do, you know how frustrating it can be when you occasionally come across a video which requires Windows Media Player. And you can guarantee it’s always the video you really want to watch which refuses to work even using the Flip4Mac Quicktime add-on. Before Parallels came along this meant having to either wait for someone to post a converted version somewhere else, or loading the link on your Windows PC (if you have one). Or how about those sites which simply refuse to run in anything other than Internet Explorer, or those which require Windows Java?

It’s such a great convenience now using Parallels to simply paste the link into Firefox on the Windows side, watch the clip and get right back to a proper operating system once you’re done – and now with build 3036 it’s even more seamless because, as with the previous stable version of Parallels, your clipboard is synced to that of Windows. So you copy the link and paste it – but here’s the juicy part.

You no longer have to remember to mangle your hand into Windows awkward shortcut keys, because build 3036 comes with some software on the Windows side which re-maps the keyboard so that the Apple key and option and CTRL keys behave correctly.

The cream on the cake for me though, in build 3036 is being able to hide Windows completely and open Windows applications and Explorer windows right on top of your Mac desktop, so you don’t have to constantly go into and come out of full screen mode, just to save your eyes from having to have that awful bland typical Windows desktop visible when you’re not using it (see screen shot).

If you do run Windows as a visible desktop you can now resize the window as if it where any other Mac application space and the Windows desktop re-sizes as if you’ve adjusted the screen resolution. This is especially handy if you want to use the other great new feature of being able to drag and drop right from Mac OS into Windows and from Windows into Mac OS.

Move a file from your Mac into any Windows Explorer folder and it copies across instantly – which is a really handy thing if you, like me, like to test designs you’re working on in as many different web browsers as you can before going live. It’s also a work around to a bug in Parallels I’m sorry to see hasn’t been addressed yet, where you can’t reliably map your Mac’s shared directory as a network drive in Windows using Samba.

Fingers crossed Parallels tools will soon be available for Linux too, so that this new functionality benefits those of us using Parallels to run Ubuntu as a host environment for various open source video and music editing applications which are proving difficult to port over to Mac OS – such as LMMS.

All in all, if you are still on the fence about Parallels my advice is to get it – it really shows off the power of the Mac OS and has never been easier to use.

There are 14 comments on New Parallels Beta. Loaded with new features, same great taste.:

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  1. Barry Conway | Dec 03 2006 - 06:22


    Although this beta is full of numerous improvements, this beta isnt quite as stable as one would like to think. I’ve had numerous crashes switching between full screen and window mode. I’ve since reverted back to the non beta version until this is a publicly accounced on the site.

  2. Me1000 | Dec 03 2006 - 07:05

    I Downloaded it, Im currently waiting for my new macbook (C2D)
    Will this beta expire? if so how soon?

  3. Jim Gardner | Dec 03 2006 - 09:15

    I’m over the moon to have made the MacCast front page – thanks everyone!

    Here’s a screenshot closer-up than the thumbnail Adam included from my original forum posting (as mentioned in the artical as “see below”)

    Me1000: I’ve no idea if the Beta will run out, but I doubt they’d pull the plug, so-to-speak, before the “real” version is available – although there’s no word yet on if they plan on charging for it, which I personally think would be a bit rich considering how many of us have only just paid for the old version. Maybe they’ll consider a rebate for users who bought it in the last 2 or 4 months?

    The blog wires are buzzing around a story on which suggests Leopard might include a re-named version of Parallels and that Apple might have bought it. Wait and see on that one.

    Barry Conway: I haven’t been able to force it to crash when switching between modes as you suggest, but I’m sure different systems and video cards behave differently.

  4. Barry Conway | Dec 03 2006 - 10:47

    I neglected to mention that my iMac is running in dual monitor mode. Perhaps that may be the reason for the problems I experienced.

  5. tbirdparis | Dec 04 2006 - 06:46

    quick question…

    does this version of parallels, or the other one for that matter, allow you to watch windows media player files that have windows DRM? they seem to be the only ones I have not been able to watch using flip4mac in quicktime.
    any idea?

  6. TK-421 | Dec 04 2006 - 09:34

    Another point that wasn’t made in the post is that this Beta offers the ability to use an existing Boot Camp partition. This is the clencher for me, as I was hesitant of going through all that again just to try out Parallels. Goodbye Boot Camp!

  7. Jim Gardner | Dec 04 2006 - 04:40

    tbirdparis: In Parallels you are running Windows. Windows is utterly unaware of the fact it is running inside a real computer. It’s in a virtual machine. As far as it’s aware it is on a PC. So yes, DRM’d Windows Media Video and Audio files work.

  8. Jim Gardner | Dec 04 2006 - 05:48

    tbirdparis: WDRM’d files work fine, because Windows “thinks” it is running on a regular PC.

  9. Avner | Dec 05 2006 - 11:08

    I installed the new version and indeed it seems to have many new (wondefull features). I was especially interested in their new Coherence mode (use the Windows’ windows over the Mac desktop).

    It worked once, looked lovely, but had an irritating text flicker. The text just seemed to keep bouncing up and down a line without me moving any windows. This has hapenned both in native resolution and at lower resolutions.

    I tired to run parallels again but can’t seem to be able to go into the Coherence mode again. My VM keeps crashing as soon as I switch modes.

    Looks promising, though :-)

  10. Jim Gardner | Dec 05 2006 - 01:21

    I guess that’s why it’s still a Beta Avner. I’ve been reading around and it appears to be glitchy for a lot of different people for lots of different reasons.

    I appear to be in the lucky minority that I’ve had very few problems.

  11. roundobi | Dec 05 2006 - 04:17

    This is proabably a stupid question, but
    Where can i get the beta at?

  12. Slowglass | Dec 05 2006 - 04:01

    OK, I must be being stupid. I cannot seem to find the new Coherence mode.

    Hints please.

  13. Avner | Dec 06 2006 - 01:19

    roundobi: the link is in their forums. Just Google “3036” and its the first link that come up.

    Slowglass: The Coherence mode is activated by the toolbar button right after the fullscreen button. This button looks like it has four white swares on a blue bacgkround. You can also set a VM to automatically go into that mode through the general setup screen (second pane).

  14. roundobi | Dec 10 2006 - 06:43

    Slowglass: you also have to have the lastest version of parallels tools installed if you want to use it in windows.