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Parallels Desktop 7 adds Lion features to Windows VMs

By John Rizzo

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Parallels today released a major update to its virtualization software for Mac, Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac. The upgrade from Version 6 is available today for US $50, but users will have to wait until September 6 to get the freestanding version ($80). When running in Lion, Parallels Desktop 7 enables Windows applications to take advantage of Lion's new features. And for the first time, Lion users get the ability to run Lion in a virtual machine.

The update also contains 90 improvements for Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion users, including an easier way to install Windows, faster 3D graphics and overall performance, and the ability to use a Mac's built-in video camera in both Windows and Mac applications at the same time.

Support of the Lion features work when using Parallel's Coherence mode. Individual Windows applications can take advantage of Lion's full screen mode, and work with Lion's Mission Control, including support of the standard finger trackpad gestures. You can add individual Windows applications to Lion's Launchpad, or access a folder in Launchpad containing all Windows programs in a Windows virtual machine. Lion's Resume feature also works with Windows programs.

You can now purchase and download Windows right from within the new Parallels Wizard, if you live in US and Canada. You'll also find buttons for free downloads Ubuntu and Fedora Linux and Google Chrome. The Parallels Wizard is also where you start an installation of Windows, or migrate Windows from an existing real PC on the network.

Parallels Desktop 7's new Parallels Wizard

Parallels said that Desktop 7 contains some virtualization features not found in VMware Fusion or VirtualBox. These include supporting up to 1 GB of video memory and 7.1 surround sound. Another first is the ability to use the Mac's video camera in both Windows and Mac apps at the same time, without having to disconnect the camera when moving between the two operating systems.

Parallels Desktop 7 is the first virtualization environment to run Lion and Lion Server as guest OS's in a virtual machine. It also runs Snow Leopard Server as a guest OS, an ability that previous versions also supported. Lion is tricky, however, because it doesn't come as a disk image. Parallels Desktop 7 gets around this by accessing Lion's recovery partition to install Lion in a virtual machine.

Running Lion in Lion

Also updated is Parallels Desktop 7 Switch to Mac Edition (US $100), which comes with a cable that can move applications, data, settings, and browser favorites from a Windows PC to a virtual machine on a Mac. Version 7 of the Switch to Mac Edition also has new video tutorials to orient Windows users to Mac OS X's user interface.

Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac Enterprise Edition is also updated. This edition has different licensing and deployment models. (See "Parallels gets to business with mass-deployment enterprise features.")

One word of caution: Parallels Desktop 7 requires a Mac with a minimum of a an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Parallels Desktop 7 won't run on Macs with earlier processors (the Core Duo and Core Single).

If you've tried Parallels Desktop 7 what you think of it.

Parallels also released Parallels Mobile 7.

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