Review: Parallels 7 – Windows For Mac

By Branko Miletic

Imagine that you could run Windows on your Mac. Imagine that you could run any Windows program on any MacBook. This is now possible with the recent release of Parallels 7.

The days of Mac and PC living in parallel (excuse the pun) worlds are now officially over. No more two tribes- one Mac, the other PC, unable to communicate or work with together – with Parallels 7, two becomes one. It’s taken some time, but as of September 2011, Mac and PC are now joined at the hip for the betterment of computer users everywhere.

Putting it into a nutshell, Parallels 7 (PD7) is a software suite for running Windows and Mac applications side-by-side on a Mac without rebooting. PD7 comes with more than 90 new features over its predecessor, Parallels 6. For the record, other programs in the same category include the likes of VMWare Fusion 4.0.

PD7 has been made to integrate with Mac OS X Lion and lets you run popular programs like Windows Internet Explorer, Access, OneNote, Quicken and even demanding graphics ware – all without the need to reboot. Add to that support for OSX Launchpad and Mission Control for Windows programs and Parallels starts looking like one mighty piece of software

Loading PD7 is easy and then I did the unthinkable – I installed Windows (XP Professional in my case) onto your Mac. I must admit there was almost a sense of cheap guilt when I did it.

And yes, you can open any program – Flash included on your Mac in the Windows environment. You can transfer Windows-only products, such as Shockwave and just about anything else that is usually labeled as being 'Windows Only'.

But – and there’s always a but with these things –  life is not as wonderful as the people at Parallels would have us believe. First, there is the issue of security. Macs have no problem when it comes to viruses; even less so if you are like me and have a Mac-specific anti-virus (AV) program installed. However, once you add Windows onto your Mac you also have to install a Windows AV program to protect your Windows on your Mac from viruses and malware. I did not try this as this was a bit too much for my brain to handle over one weekend. Suffice it to say, the nice people over at Parallels claim this is not only possible, but also painless.

The biggest problem is the resources this takes up on your system. If you are running OS Lion (10.7.1), you'll already feel like Steve Jobs has given the Mac version of Vista to his loyal followers as your system is probably running much slower than it did when it was using Snow Leopard.

When you add Parallels and then Windows onto this platform, I must warn you that you will have your patience tested. It’s not surprising that when this was being demonstrated to the media, the guy from Parallels was running a late-model Intel i5 MacBook Pro with 8Gb of RAM. That's right – 8 Gb of RAM – anything else, like my paltry 4Gb on a 2.4Gb CPU stuck onto an Intel Core 2 duo is a total waste of time.

I found this out the hard way– or if you like, over one whole Saturday afternoon whereby I learned to loathe that Mac colour wheel.

In other words, if your Mac isn't pimped up to the max and if you are loading anything but Windows 7 (don't even think of trying Vista), then your machine will not only go slow- if you are lucky- but will simply cease to function in a proper and useful manner.

Other than that, if your Mac is top of the shelf rigged up, then Parallels 7 is a must-have piece of software.

Pros: allows you to run windows on MAC, easy to use, great price point
Cons: needs the highest amount of RAM and CPU power you can get, needs extra security for the Windows component.


3.5 Shacks out of 5