Parallels Desktop Re- & Interview
It's one of the first solutions for intel Macs to run Windows. The only _other_ solution right now is to install Windows on your intel Mac natively via BootCamp, which of course has the obvious disadvantage that you have to leave your Mac OS X environment completely. BootCamp also has an obvious advantage, though: Windows gets direct access to the hardware, whereas with the virtualisation software it only gets direct access to the processor - but not the harddrive, the graphics card etc. I have found Parallels Desktop to be perfect for everything except games. Games often rely on a good hardware setup, and a virtual solution just can't give that (yet). Also, some games simply refuse to run because they don't "see" the CD-ROM or DVD as being "real" i.e. they think you want to trick them into running without having the original medium ready. For testing websites in IE and Firefox for Windows, however, or running the full Outlook client or MS Project or some other software application that simply doesn't exist for Mac OS X, this solution is near-perfect, because it allows you to still work with any _other_ software you have running in your normal Mac OS X environment.
I've had the chance to interview Benjamin H. Rudolph, marketing manager of Parallels Inc. - here's the result...First off: Congratulations on bringing this software to the Mac world. You certainly hit the right time with the product, too! When did you first decide to _do_ a Mac version? Did the thought come up when Steve Jobs said Apple would move to intel or much later on?Thanks! We’re really glad to be a part of the Mac community. The last few months have been really exciting!
When we learned that Apple was moving to Intel chips, we immediately started outlining how we’d move our virtualization engine to the OS X platform. Since our engine is compatible with the x86 chipset and already worked seamlessly with with Windows and Linux, porting the code over was relatively easy. We were able to put beta1 together in just a few months.What is the number one feature-request for Parallels Desktop for the Mac these days?We’ve seen a wide variety of features requested throughout the beta program, and fortunately, we’ve been able to address just about all of them. Fullscreen mode and USB support were two of the biggest requests, and I’m proud to say that Parallels Desktop for Mac now enables users to expand virtual machines to fullscreen mode (or move them to a second monitor) and supports a very broad range of USB devices, including microphones, printers, external hard drives, memory sticks, cameras and PDAs.Do you see the Mac crowd (the users) act/respond differently to your product(s) than your Windows/Linux customers?For the Mac crowd, Parallels is a real productivity enabler. It breaks down the barrier between the Mac and Windows worlds that was prevelant for so long. Up until Parallels (and to a lesser extent, Boot Camp) appeared, you were either a “Mac guy” or a “Windows guy”, and there was very little crossover. Now, Mac users can live in OS X, but use important Windows applications like Outlook and Project, without having to give up the OS X desktop that they’ve come to rely on. Our software really takes the “standard” OS argument off the table; employers now can let users work on whatever platform they prefer, because they know that via Parallels, every team member can run company-wide, mission critical applications, regardless of whether their computer is a PC or a Mac.
This use is pretty similar to our Linux user base; they too want to spend most of their day in a non-Windows OS, but know that they’ll need to access certain Windows-only programs occasionally. They’re using Parallels Workstation for Linux to live in Linux, but work in Windows.
Our Windows customers rely on Parallels for security. By building secure, isolated, easily erasable virtual machines, IT managers can safely test new software or network configurations without risking a real machine. We’ve also had a lot of users comment on how handy Parallels Workstation is for software development and testing, because it enables them to cross-develop and test across multiple platforms without leaving their home workstation.Let's assume that in the future, Parallels Desktop will have competition in the form of Microsoft's VirtualPC (which already is a virtual machine solution on Windows, it's merely an emulation solution on PowerPC Macs) and VMware. And maybe even Apple will have a "more virtualised" approach in Leopard. What, do you think, are Parallels' strong points for going into such competition?I can’t really comment on what our competitors may or may not be doing, because unfortunately, they don’t give me any prior notice! What I can say is that we are 100% committed to building products that lead the industry. Even if our competitors, or Apple, enter the market, I think that our blazingly fast performance and great ease of use will help us maintain our position as the choice for running Windows on a Mac.How "easy" will it be to have better graphics support in a virtualisation software like Parallels Desktop? I've heard that you'd love graphics chip makers to add virtualisation features. What's possible with what we have now?If you’re looking to run a high-res or high-refresh rate game or video, you’ll be able to do so flawlessly on Parallels. Parallels Desktop offers limited 3d graphics support, so 3D intensive games work on a case-by-case basis. This is a big request from our users, so we’re working hard to improve this area.A release seems near, now that you've gone into the release candidate phase. Are there already goals for a version 1.1 or 2.0? What's still left to do for 1.0?We’re in release candidate 2 for Parallels Desktop. This is our final test version before we launch the final product, so now, we’re doing more “polishing” than anything else. Look for a final version very soon!
With the final release of Parallels Desktop (which includes Parallels Compressor, a tool which also you to compact a Windows drive image to about 50% of its original size) nearing, Parallels lets you buy a license for 39.99 USD, compared to the final pricing which'll be 79.99 USD. You can download the demo here