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Sep 11, 2012

New Parallels 8 Runs Windows and Mac

What do you get when you try to force a Mountain Lion through a Window? Complete cooperation now that Parallels Desktop 8 is here to save you. The much-anticipated new release of this desktop visualization program is out this month. With Parallel Version 8, the newest Windows and OS X system coexist peacefully on a Mac.

It is a Parallel World

The world consists of people who swear by Mac, ones who can’t live without Windows, and the tweeners – those geeks that want them both. Parallels 8 is designed with the tweeners in mind. This variety of software became critical when Apple made the switch to Intel chips. That one little hardware change left some businesses in a quandary. They needed to support both Windows and Mac on one system. Parallels is a prize for employees who work at home on their Macs, but use apps from an office that is strictly Windows.

Technically, Parallels is an emulator software program, sometimes called a desktop simulator. This is a fancy way of saying it takes a guest operating system, and using virtualization, runs pieces of it on an OS X host. The host OS takes applications from the guest without the need to change from one system to the next. Using a desktop emulator allows the connection without you having to install dual operating systems and reboot each time you are making the switch.

Parallels is not new. This software debuted in 2006, but Version 8 - the latest, is just hitting the market this month. 

It Is an Upgrade
 
Parallels has been improving with each version, and number 8 is no exception. The previous versions could run Windows in the background, giving you access to apps while staying true to the OS X system. You also had the option to run Windows full screen on your Mac if you prefer their desktop set up.

Parallels 8 is more of the same, but with some improvements. You can take applications off Windows 8 and load them into Mountain Lions Launchpad program, giving you hassle-free continuous access. Version 8 also does a better job of fully integrating the two systems. For example, you see all the Windows notifications on the Mountain Lion desktop.

One big change involves the Mountain Lion dictation feature. Dictation is that neat little microphone app that you tap to switch to voice response typing. Past versions meant dictation would not work on Windows programs loading through Parallels. Version 8 changes that, now the transition is effortless.

Retina support is another big plus. One of the reasons you may like your nice, new MacBook is that eye-popping Retina display, only it flattens out on with the visualization system. Parallels 8 provides Retina support when running Windows applications. The designers at Parallels had to find a way to render a Retina screen simulation for Windows programs, and it worked. With any new release, updates and plugs fix all the little glitches. The fonts and graphics might still blur a bit on the Retina screen. Parallels is promising to fix that in the near future, so everything is nice and crisp Retina style.

It is Faster?
 
That is right. It was dragging before. Still worth the effort if you wanted both systems, but trying to mesh the host and guest operating system was slowing the processor down. Version 8 has a turbo boost that is making it run anywhere from 25 to 30 percent faster, depending on what you are trying to do.

The New Features in a Nutshell

There are a few more noteworthy tweaks to mention besides Windows notifications, Windows apps in Launchpad and Retina support. In addition, Parallels Desktop 8 offers:

Better Dock support
Enhanced track pad gestures
Bluetooth sharing
Better support for Outlook

Free for You

If you bought the license for Version 7 after July 25, 2012, you are in luck. Parallels is offering an upgrade for free. You still get a discount if you own another version even if you bought it prior to the cutoff date. If you are new to their world, you will be paying full price.

If you are in love with your MacBook Pro, but have certain affection for the Windows life, all is not lost. You can have the best of both worlds without rebooting every few minutes. With Parallels Version 8, the options have gotten even better.  Faster, prettier, easier to manage – even if you have to pay a little, buying this desktop simulator makes sense when you need access to some Windows programs but want to stay with Mountain Lion.

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