Written by: Adam Christianson
The 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 Digg.com 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.