Hands on: Latest Parallels Desktop for Mac a 'winner'

But there are still a few rough edges, especially for gamers

1 2 3 4 5 Page 3
Page 3 of 5

Given that the new version of Parallels now offers support for 3-D graphics, I wanted to try a 3-D application that would test the new OpenGL and Direct X drivers; I chose to download Maya Personal Learning Edition. Not a good choice. After I launched Maya, the application hung -- a not-too-promising start for DirectX and OpenGL on Parallels. The problem is under review and Parallels' developers are working on a fix.

Time to move to gaming. My choice for something that would serve as a good benchmark is Quake 3. I downloaded and installed a demo version, fired it up and encountered absolutely no problems. At launch, the screen resolution was reset to a basic 640-by-480 pixels but gamers are going to want higher resolutions -- and since I wanted to see what kind of horsepower Parallels could get out of the video card I upped the resolution to 1600-by-1200 and bumped all of the settings to their highest levels. To my amazement, it played fine. There were no dropped frames or any rendering issues. I might as well have been playing it natively on Mac OS X.

Next, I tried playing Battlefield 1942. No dice. The application simply crashed on start-up with this error message.

You'll have to shut down your virtual machine when running an OpenGL or DirectX app.
You'll have to shut down your virtual machine when running an OpenGL or DirectX app. (Click to view larger image)

There is a relatively long list of 3-D games and applications that aren't quite working yet on Parallels. However, with the frenetic pace of development for the applications, I'd be surprised if those issues aren't solved in short order. If you're looking for more information on whether your software is compatible, head over to the Parallels forums for troubleshooting information. There's a separate forum that focuses on gaming.

Another thing to keep in mind: Currently, you can't suspend the Parallels virtual machine while you are using an OpenGL or DirectX application.

Better 3-D graphics aren't the only improvement that the Parallels team added to version 3. Other new features include the ability to browse a virtual machine hard drive while the virtual machine is off. The C: drive simply mounts on your desktop like a network store. Also, Parallels recognizes that certain applications on the Mac desktop can be opened in a PC application. Parallels doesn't have to be running when you click on a Visio file, for instance, and it will open up the file in Visio in the XP virtual machine. This was done automatically and it can be a useful tool -- as long as it doesn't get out of hand. For instance, Parallels decided that .doc files should be opened by Word on my virtual Windows machine; I changed that setting manually so that the Mac version of Office opens those files.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 3
Page 3 of 5
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon