Parallels Desktop 12 brings Windows and Xbox to macOS

Performance, memory handling and cool improvements in the new edition.

Apple, OS X, macOS, Sierra, Windows, Windows 10, Virtualization, xBox
Credit: Parallels

If you are a Mac user who must for some reason use Windows on your Mac then please don’t worry about upgrading to macOS Sierra when it ships -- Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac has you covered.

Windows for macOS

The latest version of Parallels Desktop for Mac brings a host of additional improvements along with macOS Sierra support, including support for the Windows 10 Xbox app and a handy collection of tools. You can read more about the new package here, but a few highlights of the release include:

  • A Windows 10 installer wizard
  • 500GB cloud backup storage free for a year
  • Store Microsoft Edge and IE passwords in Keychain
  • Support for Windows 10 Xbox app, for streaming and playing all Xbox games on a Mac
  • Open SharePoint and Office 365 documents in Microsoft Office for Windows desktop applications directly from the Mac browser.

Tools and gaming

The new Parallels Toolbox for Mac might be of interest. It provides 20 single function tools and utilities that are also being made available as a standalone app.

These include a tool to download video from YouTube of Facebook; to protect files with a password, record a screencast and more. These are made available in the Menu bar. There are many other tools and Pro, Business Edition and Toolbox subscribers will be provided with additional tools every quarter in future as the company seeks to build a recurring income stream for its business.

Parallels has also taken some big steps for Mac gamers who might want to run Windows and Xbox titles on their Apple computer. Parallels engineers worked with Blizzard Entertainment and optimized Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac to support smash PC title, Overwatch.

As noted above the software also supports the Windows 10 Xbox app, enabling people to stream and play Xbox games on their Macs. (And I guess you’ll be able to access many of these things using Parallels Access on your iPad Pro).

Cortana versus Siri

I’ve spent some time working with Parallels 11 and have been impressed by its tight integration between Windows and Mac features. What this means in use is that you can flip easily between tasks on both your Mac and VM machines, which makes use of the software an essential for any Mac user who may sometimes need to work with legacy Windows apps. The capacity to preview files held on a Windows virtual machine from your Mac system using QuickLook is a great example of this.

Sierra introduces Siri support to the Mac. That’s good and bad as I had been amusing myself using Cortana on my Windows VM to answer questions. Tight integration between the two systems had enabled me to ask Cortana for information from my Mac desktop, so long as my Windows VM was working in the background. I guess that’s become less tantalizing now I can use Siri on Sierra, but I look forward to a flurry of hopefully amusing comparisons of the kind of results the two assistants gather when used by the same person on the same machine.

Performance improvements

Parallels promises significant performance and battery life improvements in this version. Mac users on slower processors or with little installed memory will likely welcome this, as the software has traditionally been quite demanding to run. Enhancements promised in this release should (I’m told) provide:

  • Up to 90 percent faster Snapshot creation.
  • Up to 60 percent faster suspend of VMs.
  • Up to 25 percent faster Shared Folders performance.
  • Up to 10 percent battery life improvement.
  • Improved VM responsiveness when the Mac’s free memory becomes low.

Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac, Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition and Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition are available today for subscribers and upgraders from Parallels Desktop 10 and 11. It will be available on August 23.

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