Parallels Desktop 9.0

Early run through of the newly issued Parallels Desktop 9.0 virtualisation package.

How did people work before desktop virtualisation became so usable? Lots of physical machines? I remember having lots of physical boxes and servers at home for example - not ideal.

Virtualisation has come on so much over the last few years hasn’t it? Both in the corporate data centre space and on the desktop. Having the ability to quickly to deploy test machines, and to run multiple instances of operating systems is simply invaluable - certainly in my job anyway.

I’ve written about Parallels repeatedly over the years - and its competitive product from VMWare - Fusion:

Running Windows 8 on Parallels 8 - on OSX

Running Windows 8 on VMWare Fusion 5 - on OSX

Anyways, Parallels have released a refresh to their virtualisation product -
Parallels Desktop 9.0. If you want to see a full list of what they consider to be new in the package, have a look here:

What's new in Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac

A few things in their claims stick out, including:

  • Improvements in coherence for Windows 8
  • Support for Windows 8.1 (Still in preview)
  • Windows 7 view in Windows 8 - more on that later!
  • Support for PowerNap
  • Access your iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive cloud storage folders from Windows

...and of course everyone is claiming it’s faster - don’t they always?

The Windows 7 view is an interesting one. Windows 8 is a great operating system - fast, secure & modern. What people seem to complain about and not like is the Modern Interface (What was previously called Metro). It’s big, and in your face. A lot of people - me included - were using
Start8 from Stardock to give us back the start menu, and to deliver us to the desktop rather than the Modern UI. I don’t mind the modern UI so much on my laptop(s)/tablets, but I find it incredibly intrusive on my 27” screens. It’s LOUD and in your face so to speak - hence I tend to put Start8 on those.

What Parallels have done is teamed up with
Stardock to use Start8 and its sister program ModernMix (this allows Windows desktop apps to run in a Window) to deliver the Windows 7 look & feel to a Windows 8 session. You can read some more about that here:

Windows Experience: like Windows 8 or like Windows 7

In effect you’re getting Start8 and ModernMix bundled in with Parallels 9, nothing more than that. I say nothing more of course, to some people it’s the thing that makes Windows 8 usable.

The ability to share your iCloud, DropBox, GoogleDrive and SkyDrive folders between your Mac and Windows sessions is an interesting one. I mean you don’t want DropBox synchronising to BOTH your Mac and to your Windows session do you? You’re just doubling the size and the data traffic. It sound far more integrated than it is though - essentially what these options do is make your iCloud, DropBox and GoogleDrive folders
on your Mac available as network drives in Windows.

Notice how I left out SkyDrive in that last bit? That’s because SkyDrive works the other way around. You share the SkyDrive in
Windows with your Mac. So in that scenario your SkyDrive is replicated down to your Windows session, and then Parallels makes it available in Finder. It’s an odd exception, and one that confused me for a bit! Also, begs the question of why I would do this when SkyDrive is freely available as an application on OSX anyway?

The iCloud integration is interesting as this isn’t readily offered up in Finder, never mind Windows. Essentially iCloud integration maps your iCloud folder to Windows allowing you access to things like your PhotoStream, and shared folders. Useful? I’m not quite sure yet - having access to your photo stream is mildly useful I guess?

My assessment of that usefulness of course could be tainted by the fact that I have more cloud storage than I can use right now - SkyDrive, iCloud, GoogleDrive, and now
Copy. Incidentally, if you want to sign up to Copy, use my referral link below - we both get more storage then!

Get an extra 5Gb at SignUp

The big question really is is this worth the upgrade fee if you’re already running Parallels 8? I don’t think it is to be fair. There’s not enough new in it to offer me anything significant over what I had with version 8 of the product? Parallels 8 works perfectly well on Apple OSX 10.9 Mavericks too by the way - and 8 runs Windows 8 and 8.1 Preview just fine as well.

Of course you get the Start8 with it - but then that’s only a fiver in its own right anyway isn’t it?

I’ll be interested to see what people think of this going forward. Parallels has a very predictable upgrade schedule - it’s been pretty much yearly since late 2006 - and every year sees you being asked for money to upgrade to the latest version. I have no issue paying to upgrade when the upgrade has new functions/features or performance increases etc. however being asked to upgrade just for the sake of upgrading and keeping the company’s cash flow running is a different matter entirely.

Parallels Desktop 9.0 seems like a solid, fast and well integrated desktop virtualisation platform. If you have it, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with it. If you have version 8 however and upgrade to 9, I think you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.

Also, for me, the upgrade hasn’t been pain free. It’s one of the downsides of early adoption isn’t it - finding problems?! I’ve ran into a couple of issues including my iSight WebCam not working between machines, a random pause affecting my Windows 8 sessions, and also USB devices constantly connecting/disconnecting. Some investigation has resolved these - see next blog entries - but never the less they were annoying given my Parallels 8.0 setup was running just perfectly.

Yes, yes I’m aware I can downgrade back to Parallels 8.0 if I want to!

Anyway, I’ve done the following video run through for anyone that’s interested in a look see of the new Parallels Desktop 9.0 package.

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