Par­al­lels Desk­top 12

Run Win­dows apps di­rectly from your Mac’s desk­top The ab­sence of note­wor­thy new fea­tures makes Par­al­lels Desk­top 12 a hard sell for ex­ist­ing users

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by Nick Peers

Par­al­lels Desk­top has been our go-to so­lu­tion for run­ning Win­dows apps on the Mac for

some time now. Our favourite fea­ture is Co­her­ence Mode, which al­lows you to blend your Win­dows apps right into the OS X desk­top it­self, mak­ing them ap­pear like na­tive apps. Par­al­lels Desk­top 12 at­tempts to con­tinue its grad­ual evo­lu­tion with a smat­ter­ing of tweaks and im­prove­ments, but the ab­sence of note­wor­thy new fea­tures makes it a hard sell for ex­ist­ing users.

The lack of stand­out fea­tures ex­plains why the pre-launch hype has been around Par­al­lels Tool­box, a col­lec­tion of 20 mini-tools that aims to plug var­i­ous gaps in OS X, with ex­am­ples in­clud­ing a one-click ‘Do Not Sleep’ but­ton and a tool for down­load­ing video. This is un­doubt­edly clever and po­ten­tially use­ful, but not par­tic­u­larly earth-shat­ter­ing, and does lit­tle to en­hance Par­al­lels Desk­top it­self.

As al­ways, what changes Par­al­lels does in­tro­duce are wel­come ones, but they’re evo­lu­tion­ary rather than revo­lu­tion­ary. Take Co­her­ence Mode, for ex­am­ple: ver­sion 12 adds a dis­trac­tion-free pre­sen­ta­tion mode that dis­ables no­ti­fi­ca­tions, hides desk­top icons and forces your Mac to stay awake, plus you can now as­sign de­fault be­hav­iours to in­di­vid­ual Win­dows apps, such as al­ways open­ing them in full-screen mode. Web­site pass­words from Edge and In­ter­net Ex­plorer can be in­te­grated into OS X’s key­chain, and Of­fice op­tions ap­pear in OS X’s con­tex­tual menus too – all wel­come changes, but mi­nor.

Per­for­mance dis­ap­point­ments

Par­al­lels 12 also comes with a year’s 500GB cloud backup with Acro­nis True Im­age, which is then in­te­grated into Par­al­lels to al­low you to back up in­cre­men­tal changes to your vir­tual ma­chines. Great, but go­ing for­ward will you have to pay, or switch to Par­al­lel’s sub­scrip­tion-based Pro edi­tion? Ex­ist­ing power users will find the £34.99 per year sub­scrip­tion tempt­ing given that it in­cludes Par­al­lels Ac­cess and a sub­scrip­tion cov­er­ing fu­ture Par­al­lel Tool­box up­dates in ad­di­tion to Pro-only fea­tures like the Net­work Con­di­tioner (which sim­u­lates 3G and other slow net­works), but it’s overkill for most.

Every year we’re told Par­al­lels gets faster and bet­ter. With ver­sion 12, Par­al­lels is forced to find niche areas to tweak: sus­pend times (up to 60% faster) and shared folder ac­cess (up to 25%), for ex­am­ple. It also has sup­port for the Win­dows 10 Xbox app and Over­watch game, but DirectX 11 sup­port is still miss­ing.

There’s value in Par­al­lels for first-time users look­ing to eas­ily in­te­grate Win­dows apps into the Mac desk­top. But there’s lit­tle to tempt ex­ist­ing users, and we can’t help but feel that Par­al­lels needs a rad­i­cal re­think if it’s to avoid stag­nat­ing go­ing for­ward.

A new pre­sen­ta­tion mode makes it eas­ier to use Co­her­ence.

The big­gest new fea­ture in Par­al­lels Desk­top 12 is ac­tu­ally a sep­a­rate app called Par­al­lels Tool­box.

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