Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac: Windows 8 and Beyond

This is a sponsored post that I’ve written on behalf of Parallels. All opinions are 100% my own.

Parallels is currently offering an impressive deal in its flagship program, Parallels Desktop 7. Parallels has long been one of the most popular and feature-rich virtual machine solutions for the Mac. Running within OS X, Parallels gives you the ability to run one or several virtual machines loaded with Windows, Chrome OS, Ubuntu, and more in a seamless fashion without sacrificing most of your system’s performance to do so.

I use Parallels every day while writing about Microsoft products for LockerGnome. Currently, my iMac has several virtual machines installed through Parallels including Windows 7, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Ubuntu, and Chrome OS. There is no noticeable lag caused by having these virtual machines running, and each system has a certain amount of RAM allocated to it which enables me to reserve plenty of system resources for OS X. You can suspend any single virtual machine with a click of the mouse, making it easier to grab some extra RAM when you need it.

These virtual machines also come in handy after the work day is complete. Games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and the latest version of Call of Duty may only be available for Windows at the present time, but Parallels allows you to launch and play them as if they were native to OS X. That’s pretty impressive, and it actually works.

For a limited time, Parallels is being offered at a discounted rate during the Parallels Mac Madness sale. You can pick up a copy of Parallels Desktop 7 for 25% off ($59.99 versus $79.99) or upgrade your existing copy of Parallels 6 at up to 40% off ($29.99 versus $49.99).

So, why should you consider using Parallels Desktop 7 over any other virtual desktop solution for the Mac?

Seamless Desktop Experience

Parallels Desktop 7 gives you the ability to run Windows within OS X in two different ways. One way, utilizing the fullscreen feature introduced in OS X Lion, allows you to switch between OS X and Windows with a swipe of your Magic Mouse. Switching between desktops is easy and quick, and both machine run side-by-side keeping your tasks going no matter which desktop environment you’re using.

Another option allows you to enter Coherence Mode which gives you the ability to run Windows programs alongside OS X apps side-by-side without even leaving the OS X user interface at all. This means that you can use Microsoft Office for Windows on the same screen as Colloquy for Mac without any noticeable difference between the two outside of the location of the Window controls. This creates a truly cohesive environment that enables you to do what you need to do without having the jarring experience of switching between operating system environments.

No Reboot Required

Boot Camp is a great feature for Mac users that want to run Windows on Apple hardware. The downside of this is that you don’t get the benefits of OS X unless you close Windows and reboot the computer.

Parallels gives you the ability to run both operating systems simultaneously, giving you the best of both worlds. In fact, you can run Windows alongside OS X and Ubuntu if you wanted to. Perhaps you want to give Chrome OS a look or take a look at Fedora, Linux Mint, or one of any number of distros available free on the Web.

Parallels enables you to install, launch, and close a variety of different virtual machine setups without ever having to leave OS X.

More Secure

Being able to operate within a sandbox environment keeps your primary operating system out of harm’s way. Apple allows users to install duplicate copies of OS X on up to two virtual machines, giving you the ability to test new software, try out some tweaks, and browse the Web without having to worry about corrupting your primary OS X install. Windows doesn’t have a reputation for being the most secure operating system out there, and being operated within a sandbox allows you the freedom to experience Windows without the risk of having to start over from scratch due to malware, viruses, and other malicious code.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac: Windows 8 and BeyondInstalling the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Parallels Desktop 7 is as easy as a click of the mouse. Parallels is kept updated so you can enjoy the latest Microsoft has to offer while using the Mac. This is possibly the best way to try any beta version of an operating system. After all, would you dedicate a partition of your drive to something that may or may not actually work the way to need it to? Parallels enables you to create and remove virtual machines on a whim without losing your important data, a great feature that you don’t get with Boot Camp.

You can also copy and paste data, files, and more between OS X and Windows without the added hassle of networking and/or dealing with incompatible file structures.

In fact, creating a new virtual machine with Windows 8 Consumer Preview installed takes a considerably small amount of time. Parallels handles the download, setup, and any other hurdle typically associated with installing Windows. All you have to do is click the Windows 8 logo on the Parallels splash screen and you’re ready to go.

Convenience Store

Parallels offers its customers the ability to purchase Windows 7 and some associated software directly from its convenience store. You don’t have to head to a retail store and fumble around for install discs to take advantage of Windows 7 for the Mac. Parallels Desktop 7 handles all of that for you.


This is a point that should be shouted from mountain tops all across the blogosphere. Parallels enables you to remotely access your Mac from your iOS device. You can use your Windows programs and OS X apps from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch while you’re out and about.

Parallels Mobile, a new app available for iOS devices, enables you to get more done while you’re on the road without having to install another resource-hogging third-party remote access application on top of Parallels and other important software. Having everything being handled by a single application ensures maximum compatibility and stability while getting your work done from the road. This means less hassle, and less time fumbling between different programs.

More importantly, Parallels Desktop 7 features several key improvements that help increase the battery life of your MacBook Pro. This means less time spent recharging, and more time enjoying your Windows and OS X software while out and about. It seems every time I go to the local coffee shop, someone has already grabbed the one seat that comes with its own power outlet, leaving me to fend for myself in situations where battery life is critical.

Don’t sacrifice mobility for productivity! The two can and should go hand-in-hand. Parallels has enabled me to be more mobile during my day-to-day activities and for that reason alone, I’d recommend this product over any other virtual machine solution for the Mac.

Switch to Mac Without Losing Your Software

Parallels Desktop 7 gives you the ability to actually move your current operating system, files, and programs from your old Windows PC to your brand new Mac. This is a great way to get accustomed to the OS X environment without losing productivity during the learning period.

Final Thoughts

If you’re currently using Parallels Desktop 6 and haven’t upgraded just yet, now is the perfect time. At up to 40% off, the upgrade is more affordable than ever. Even folks that are new to Parallels will enjoy the 25% savings on Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac.

Parallels has enabled me to keep enjoying OS X while blogging about my other favorite operating system, Windows. I’d recommend it for users that are new to Macs, but don’t quite want to give up the Windows experience just yet.

The addition of Parallels Mobile gives you the ability to access your favorite OS X and Windows programs while one the road, even if all you have with you is your iPhone. This is an exciting addition to the Parallels Desktop experience, and one that could very well be a lifesaver when that important business call comes in when you’re out of the office.

We’re also working with Parallels to give away your choice of a MacBook Pro or an iPad 2 plus copies of Parallels Desktop 7 and Parallels Mobile. To qualify, all you need to do is help us spread the news about this deal. You just need to tweet or re-tweet the following:

TODAY: 25% off Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac & 40% off upgrades. RT 4 chance to win a MacBook Pro or iPad2