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Parallels Desktop 10 Puts Emphasis on Features Over Performance

Posted by Jim Tanous on August 26, 2014

Update: Our full benchmark comparison between Parallels 10, Fusion 7, and VirtualBox is now available.

Last week, virtualization firm Parallels launched Parallels Desktop 10. We’ve had a few days to test the software and we’ve got some performance benchmarks to share. Before we dive into benchmarks, however, let’s take a few minutes to go over some key new features.

New Features in Parallels Desktop 10

Support for OS X Yosemite: Parallels Desktop 10 supports OS X all the way back to 10.7 Lion, but a key feature is full support for Apple’s upcoming OS X Yosemite, both as a host and guest operating system. We’ll touch on why this is both important and controversial later on.

New Ways to Install, Launch, and Manage VMs: Parallels Desktop 10 brings a new “Desktop Control Center” interface that replaces the old “Virtual Machines List.” The new interface offers larger live previews of active and suspended VMs, easy access to VM configuration settings, and a quick visual indicator of whether or not anti-virus software is installed in each VM. It’s not a huge change over the old, simpler list, but it makes managing multiple VMs (we have 10 that we juggle here at TekRevue) a bit easier.

Parallels Desktop 10 Control Center

When it’s time to create a new virtual machine, Parallels Desktop 10 aims to make things easier by introducing new “optimization presets” in something called “Parallels Wizard.” These four presets — productivity, gaming, design, and software development — automatically configure certain VM settings to provide the best experience for each activity. It’s not perfect, and power users will want to manually refine the VM options themselves, but it’s a nice start to assist users who are relatively new to virtualization.

Parallels Desktop 10 Wizard

Virtual Machines themselves now also appear in the OS X dock as separate icons, instead of being combined under the primary Parallels Desktop icon in previous versions. This allows you to launch a specific VM right away with a single click, or to more easily swap between multiple running VMs.

Even Further Integration with Windows VMs: Parallels continues its quest to integrate the user experiences of both OS X and Windows in Parallels Desktop 10. Building upon last year’s introduction of shared cloud services (iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.), Parallels 10 now automatically integrates OS X’s “Share” features in Windows applications. This means, for example, that you can select a passage from Internet Explorer in Windows 8.1 and quickly tweet it using the Twitter account linked in OS X, all without having to leave your VM.

Parallels 10 OSX Share Integration Windows

On the flip side, you can browse a shared disk using OS X’s Finder, right-click on a file and choose “Reveal in Windows” to immediately jump to the file’s location in Windows Explorer in the VM. Parallels 10 now also adds Windows apps to OS X’s Launchpad, which is arguably convenient but, honestly, who uses Launchpad? Note that these cross-platform integrations are optional and can be disabled for those who want to maintain a barrier between OS X and Windows.

3-Button Mouse Support: A big win for gamers, Parallels Desktop 10 brings support for 3(+)-button mice, allowing for the use of more advanced gaming accessories. As Parallels already offers relatively good 3D graphics support, a Parallels VM is quickly becoming a credible solution for Mac users looking to play Windows-only games.

More Hardware Options for Power Users: While relatively few Parallels Desktop 10 users will be able to take advantage of this new feature, power users and developers will be happy to know that they can now assign up to 16 virtual CPUs and 64GB of memory to an individual virtual machine (up from 8 vCPUs and 16GB of memory), satisfying the needs of some power-hungry virtualized apps. This is limited by your actual hardware, of course, so if you only have a six-core CPU with hyper-threading, like our office Mac Pro for example, you’ll be limited to 12 virtual CPUs.

Parallels Desktop 10 CPU and RAM

Free Disk Space Wizard: As storage space increases, saving a few gigabytes of space is not as important as it used to be. But if you have multiple VMs, a few gigabytes extra in each can start to add up. To help manage this issue, Parallels Desktop 10 introduces the “Free Disk Space Wizard” which is really just a centralized interface for viewing the state of your VM disks and cache. Users can find and delete unneeded VM snapshots, properly shut down unused VMs, delete the Parallels cache, and resize VMs that are using virtual disks larger than necessary. The process was relatively fast, and we were able to reclaim about 8GB of space on our Windows 8.1 VM in about 30 seconds.

Overall, we wouldn’t label any of the features (except for Yosemite support) as “critical,” but if you’re a heavy virtual machine user who loves OS X, many of the new features will help you feel more at home while using Windows. There are also quite a few additional minor features, which you can check out in the company’s highlight video, embedded below:

For a more feature-focused look at Parallels Desktop 10, be sure to check out John Martellaro’s review over at The Mac Observer. Mr. Martellaro reviews Parallels Desktop each year, and offers great perspective on how the software has evolved over time.

Now that we’ve examined some of the key new features, check out the Parallels Desktop 10 benchmarks on the next page.

6 thoughts on “Parallels Desktop 10 Puts Emphasis on Features Over Performance”

Sean Mullen says:
Parallels is a shonky business with a long history of shady practices. You’re taking a big risk installing their software.
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Guy Cortesi says:
Parallels released build 9.0.24251 that appears to correct the startup issue when running the latest public beta of Yosemite. I installed it tonight and I can now launch Parallels without any workarounds under 10.10 public beta 2. I hope this fix works for the final release of 10.10, since it doesn’t look like Parallels 10 offers much in the way of a performance boost.
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Out For Justice says:
Did Parallels 10 address OpenGL graphics performance for Linux guest OS?
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Out For Justice says:
Answered my own question. OpenGL 2.1 only (http://kb.parallels.com/en/115487). “Plans” for 3.0, but they had “plans” before and I still don’t see > OpenGL 2.1 in v9.
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Warper says:
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TekRevue says:
Yep, we’re already working on our benchmarks. I’ll post an update once they’re published.
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Natie Klopper says:
Anyone coming here to decide on buying Parallels, rather get VMware Fusion or just use Virtual Box, both of them are just as good if not better (Especially when it comes to NOT screwing over paying customers).

Parallels seriously keep ignoring paying customers with their greedy business practices. How does a customer who have bought THEIR software have to pay another $50 to upgrade to get a working copy of Parallels? Bought Parallels 9 right before OSX 10.10’s first DP. Parallels 9 kept working up until DP 3. Of course they will hide the fact that there is a Parallels 10 in the works, and then expect another $50 from a paying customer, which is the only way to get it to do work again, which is a HELL NO.

Can’t even get a refund, so I hope my Charity somehow went into their more self marketing endeavours like Ice bucket challenges, etc.

Don’t buy!

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TekRevue says:
Hi Natie,

I definitely understand your concern. Note, however, that we brought this issue to the attention of Parallels and they have promised to fix Parallels 9 for the final version of Yosemite. See the discussion of this on the third page of this review. Thanks for visiting!

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Natie Klopper says:
I Don’t think you understand my rant. Parallels don’t care about their customers. They care more and are more focused on acquiring more (New) idiots to BUY their software. They could not give a damn after you have paid for any of their products. They wanted 10 out and another cash flow before actually worrying about current users. This is pure greed at it’s finest. I have now started to use Virtual Box, which costs $0. It does everything Parallels can do and it is surprisingly better than 9 ever did. I honestly bought into their marketing and thought it would be a good product, but really it’s not that great, and the customer support/service is non-existent (Unless you fork out more $$$ for support, wow if that doesn’t spell greed, I don’t know what does).

As a developer I KNEW I should have stuck to VB or VMWare, but I really wanted to give Parallels go. But hey we all make mistakes.

Graxxor Anandro Vidhelssen says:
Their fix didn’t work. It’s still crippled and DOG SLOW.
Jonas N says:
VirtualBox has worse performance pretty much across the board according to most comparisons I’ve seen.
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TekRevue says:
That’s true, Jonas. VirtualBox especially trails in terms of 3D performance, although for those who just need to run Office or something basic, it’s a nice free alternative.

I performed some benchmarks a few years ago comparing VirtualBox to Parallels 8 and Fusion 5. Once Fusion 7 is released, I’ll pit VirtualBox against it and Parallels again and report the results here.

Warper says:
Yes, that’s true: it trails in terms of 3D performance and disk I/O. But I agree that for basic usage it’s really cool, a.f.a.i.k. it even has a window integration mode (like Coherence / Unity view)

VMWare Fusion also looks definitely promising. In terms of performance, the Fusion Tech Preview seems to be on par with Parallels 10 (I checked Java EE application server startup time and Windows / Office document operations, but this isn’t a professional benchmark). Although the final product is not released yet, Fusion does not seem to have as complete DirectX support as Parallels has, but that’s not an issue for me. Fusion also has Open Virtualization Format export from the GUI.

Another pro for Fusion is the pricing: VMWare usually has very nice offers around black friday. And VMWare licensing allows usage on all the home Macs with one single license. What’s specially disgusting about Parallels is the price difference: in US, the upgrade is 49.99 USD, in Europe it is 59 USD + V.A.T. (The V.A.T. is acceptable, the higher basis price isn’t. Yes, this isn’t a big amount of money, but this is about principles.)

The features of Parallels 10 seem to be cool, the one click disk space reclaim function works for both Windows and Linux guests – for VMWare Fusion I had to manually fill the virtual disk with zeroes and use a command line utility to reclaim unused space.

The big jump in performance was in versions Parallels 8->9 and VMWare Fusion 5->6 (my application server startup reduced from 4.5 to 3.5 minutes any my Windows guest also feels snappier) – Parallels 10 offers nice increases in the specs but I did not see any real improvements (I think that complies to conclusion of this Article).

So I’m considering to upgrade to Parallels 10 or Fusion 7 from my current Parallels 8. I’ll definitely wait for the final Fusion 7 and the TekRevue report and then decide 🙂

pgtipsster says:
Perhaps it does. But for my uses as a developer, VirtualBox suffices as it’s fast enough and it allows me to avoid being hooked into Parallel’s silly upgrade cycle. It also integrates nicely with Vagrant, which is something Parallels does not do.
CTheds3986 says:
until I lo0ked at the check saying $886O , I didn’t believe …that…my brother was like realey earning money parttime from there labt0p. . there best friend haz done this 4 only twenty three months and a short time ago paid for the depts on there house and purchased a gorgeous Jaguar E-type .From this ————–http://richman.com…….,.
Fran says:
Well, since all comparisons use less than 100% cores, you may add one more core to your VM and get similar performance. Only on cases where you’ll need 100% of the CPU cores working hard you’ll get a bit less power. But we, in Spain, say “ a caballo regalado no se le mira el colmillo” ( you don’t inspect the teeth of a free gift horse)
Guest says:
Test comment.
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