The Bottom Line
Parallels Desktop 5.0 for Mac improves on what was already one of the leading desktop virtualization applications available for the Mac. Parallels Desktop 5 offers improved support for the Windows Aero interface in Windows Vista and Windows 7, support for multiple monitors, gesture support, and a few interface tweaks.
If you're running Vista or Windows 7, the Parallels Desktop 5 upgrade is a no-brainer. New users will appreciate the ease of running Windows or Linux on their Mac desktops.
- WDDM graphics drivers.
- Support for running multiple monitors.
- New Crystal interface.
- Easy Mac printer and file sharing.
- Memory usage still unimproved.
- High resource utilization vs. other virtual environments.
- Intel Mac
- OS X 10.4.11 or later
- Run multiple guest OSes
- Supports Windows, Unix, Linux, and OS X Server as guest OSes.
Guide Review - Review of Parallels Desktop 5.0 for Mac
Parallels Desktop 5 allows Intel Mac users to run both OS X and Windows (or Linux) simultaneously. The advantages of using virtualization software to run multiple OSes simultaneously can’t be emphasized enough. It lets you easily share information between two operating systems, and easily run applications that may not be available for the Mac.
New Graphics Capabilities
Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is an incremental improvement over version 4. Version 5 concentrates on providing new display drivers that allow the Vista and Windows 7 Aero interfaces to shine. Parallels 5 does this by using a native WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) video driver, which provides better graphics performance than previous video drivers used in Parallels.
The folks at Parallels also took the opportunity to update the graphics engine to support DirectX 9.0c, Shader Model 3, and OpenGL 2.1. The changes to the graphics engine should provide a boost to both Windows and UNIX/Linux operating systems.
All of these improvements mean that many graphics-intensive Windows applications that may have been a bit slow under previous incarnations of Parallels Desktop are much more likely to run without a hitch under Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac.
New User Interface Elements
Two new interface capabilities were also added, to try to make using Parallels and a Windows OS as Mac-like as possible. Crystal, the first of these new interface elements, is an extension to the already available Coherence mode. Crystal puts all of the Windows and Parallels interface menus and controls into the Mac's menu or Dock. It then behaves like Coherence, stripping the Windows desktop away and displaying Windows applications as if they were running directly on your Mac.
MacLook is the second new interface element in Parallels 5. With MacLook enabled, Parallels applies a skin or theme to all Windows menus, windows, and interface elements, to mimic the look and feel of OS X. MacLook is nothing special, as Windows has supported themes and skins for years. For all practical purposes, MacLook is just a pre-installed Windows skin, one you could create yourself from within Windows.
The more practical new features are dual monitor support, which adds support for two displays running Parallels in full screen mode, and is still able to run 3D graphics in both, and gesture support, which allows laptop users to use their trackpads with multi-touch gesture capabilities.
Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is an improvement over previous versions. With its new WDDM graphics driver and better 3D support, Parallels Desktop 5 is a great fit for running Windows 7 as well as many of the UNIX/Linux distributions.