I have been using Parallels as my virtual machine to run Windows (and older Mac operating systems) since the early days of version 3 over eight years ago. Every update gets better and more powerful than the one before.
Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac is now the fastest, easiest, and most powerful way to run Windows on my Mac side-by-side with (or on top of) Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan. I can even make Windows invisible while still using its applications, or keep the familiar Windows background and controls on my Mac Book Pro 15” retina or iMac 27” retina.
The very latest Windows 10 runs great on El Capitan featuring Microsoft Cortana, my new virtual assistant (okay, its not Siri, but better than Mac’s voice dictation). They have now also made it easy to get all of my files, applications, browser bookmarks, and more from your PC to your Mac; just by following the setup assistant (drag-and-drop also works great between environments).
Although its not something I usually do, it is possible to reuse an existing Boot Camp installation by converting it to a virtual machine. On the other hand, I do run a wide array of operating systems including Mac OS X 10.7 Snow Leopard (for old apps like AppleWorks) and 10.9 Mountain Lion (earlier app editions), and Windows 7 (older apps). Linux and Google Chrome are also possible, but not in my circle of interest.
I can select productivity, games, design, or development, and Parallels 11 will optimize my virtual machine settings and performance for me. The Parallels Desktop Pro Edition gives my virtual machines even more processing power using up to 64 GB vRAM and 16 vCPUs per virtual machine lets me run even the most demanding applications with ease.
That was a general overview of the newest Parallels 11. There are a bunch of additional features of great interest including (but not limited to) the following:
- Copy and paste files or text between Mac and Windows
- Launch Windows apps right from the Dock
- Single-cloud storage space between Mac and Windows
- Assign any USB devices to my Mac or Windows
- Retina Display support for Windows
- Run Windows in full or split screen
- Windows alerts in Mac Notification Center
- Mac dictation inside Windows applications
- “Reveal in Windows Explorer” in OS X files menu
- Real-time virtual disk optimization
- Power Nap in Windows
- New Virtual Machine Wizard
- The Presentation Wizard prevents most projector issues
- Drop files onto Outlook to create a new message
- Multi-language Keyboard Sync
- Share Bluetooth between Mac and Windows
- Thunderbolt, Firewire, USB-C, USB 3.0 support
- Work without risk with Snapshots
- Finder Tabs work with Windows apps
- and many more...
Parallels Access is another incredible feature (separate app) that allows for remote entry into either my MacBook Pro (including the virtual machine) or iMac from an iPad, iPhone or another Mac. With just one simple tap on my mobile device, and I’m connected reliably to my Parallels 11-installed computer (or iMac). I can even access it from any other computer (like my iMac or even a public computer) through a browser and my secure Parallels account. Then, I can navigate my hard drive easily to find a file or photo, then copy or open and control it with a tap or mouse click. This is incredible and inspirational remote control!
The Standard Edition (Home and Student use) is available for $79.99 (one-time purchase, no free upgrades) or the same for $79.99 per year (free upgrades). The Mac Pro or Mac Business Edition (for Developers, Designers, Testers and Power Users) is available for $99.99 (1-year subscription). All include a free subscription to Parallels Access, and can be purchased and downloaded at parallels.com/desktop. Either can be downloaded for free for a 14-day test period.
I highly recommend this product which continues to connect me to legacy Mac files (using older operating systems) and the very newest Windows products (using Windows 10), all with ease and dependability, at a modest price. And, what a delight, to be able to remotely access either of my computers from any of my mobile devices (I can’t wait to use the new iPad Pro for remote control).