Windows users just got yet another reason to get a Mac

Parallels Desktop 13 offers MacBook Pro Touch Bar support and a host of performance enhancements that make it the go-to solution for running Windows on Mac.

Apple, macOS, Windows, Windows 10, Parallels Desktop 13
REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

PC users looking to upgrade to a secure and modern OS may want to take another look at the MacBook Pro, as you can now use its Touch Bar with some of the most widely used Windows applications.

Keeping Parallel

Parallels Desktop 13 launched this week. The software makes it really easy for any Mac user to run Windows on their Mac, it even downloads a copy of Windows 10 for you (though you will need to purchase the OS from Microsoft).

You create virtual machines for each OS you want to run on your Mac, and once you have these installed, you can run the hosted operating systems in a window on your Mac, returning to macOS as and when you want with a tap on the Desktop.

While installation is easy, it isn’t short. And if you need to download an OS, then you must be certain you can handle downloading at least 4GB of data on whatever internet connection you are using when you install.

The installation assistant also helps you to install a variety of Linux flavors, macOS, or even Android as virtual machines, making Macs even more flexible solutions for many needs.

Touch me

One of the best things about the new version of Parallels is that if you are using a MacBook Pro, you can now control some important Windows applications using the Touch Bar.

Parallels claims “thousands” of other Windows applications that run in the virtual machine can be customized with Touch Bar actions. Microsoft’s Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and most available browsers are all compatible.

Windows users working in VM on a Mac will probably like that Taskbar pinned elements and Cortana are made available through the Touch Bar. The software also integrates the forthcoming Windows People Bar with the Mac’s Touch Bar, which is a nice touch.

[Also read: 6 months using Office and a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar]

There’s a picture-in-picture mode that lets you keep an eye on all your active VMs while using the Mac.

Plus, there are under-the-hood graphics improvements that let you play popular Windows games, such as Rage, on your Mac. While I’m not anticipating professional users will spend too much time playing games at work, the fact that you can look forward to that level of performance when running Windows on a Mac suggests many business-focused apps should also work well on Apple’s systems.

How well does Parallels run?

I’ve been running Windows 10 on my Mac since Parallels shipped its upgraded solution. While I found system performance degraded while installation took place, that was a small price to pay for the flexibility I now enjoy. I can shift between different operating systems with a click.

I cannot claim to be an expert Windows user — I kind of stopped using the platform shortly before Apple released System 7 — but what I’ve seen of using it seems promising. It’s also nice to see a Windows system getting some use from my eye-wateringly modern MacBook Pro with Touch bar.

Other features? Lots. I’m particularly fond of how easily you can share documents between systems using drag & drop or the shared folder — and I got a little bit of a geek thrill asking Siri and Cortana the same questions on the same Mac.

Parallels also provides a set of single-click utilities that you can choose to install. These work across both Mac and Windows volumes on your machine, enabling you to do things such as download video from YouTube or Facebook, find duplicates and more.

Mac users who aren’t used to the ways of Windows should install the Kaspersky antivirus software Parallels provides, and also remember to be more security conscious when working inside the Windows install.

Added ingredients

The company has done lots of work to improve performance. You’ll see almost native performance improvements if you are using an external Thunderbolt SSD drive. Overall, you should see up to 47 percent faster performance when working on Windows files on a Mac.

Three different versions of Desktop 13 are available: Standard and Pro editions, with a Business Edition available in the fall. The latter includes Single Application mode, which lets IT admins deliver, lock and secure an invisible Windows VM with selected applications to a user's Mac Dock, which means users feel like they are still using a Mac. More information about Parallels Desktop 13.

Why you want Parallels

For enterprise users, the beauty of running Windows (or any other OS) in emulation with Parallels is that the combination makes it possible to run legacy Windows apps on shiny new Macs (though you will need to ensure complete system parity before you deploy, and your individual needs may be a little different).

It’s even better news for enterprise users who are involved in the deployment of iPads across their business, as the company also offers Parallels Access, a solution that lets iPad users access Windows on their tablets, too.

If you are migrating your systems to a heterogeneous computing environment in which Windows and legacy Windows applications, iOS and macOS solutions are in play, then Parallels Desktop looks like a good solution to support your business in this transition.

It’s not the only solution, of course — you could also look at VMWare Fusion, Apple’s Boot Camp, and more — but it’s really well integrated with the Mac, is fast in use, and has nice little touches, such as Touch Bar support, suggesting how deeply committed Parallels is to creating an excellent — and up-to-date — Windows/Linux/Mac on Mac experiences.

It just works, if I may use that phrase.

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