Hot on the heels of the release of VMWare Fusion 3, the folks at Parallels have released Parallels Desktop 5, matching the features of VMWare Fusion 3 and adding some new ones to boot. You can get a quick overview of the newest features in the Parallels press release.
Parallels Desktop 5 costs $79.99 for the full package, or $49.99 to upgrade from either Parallels Desktop 3 or 4. Parallels is also offering a free upgrade key for those who bought Parallels 4 after Oct. 1. This is also valid for Parallels 4 purchases up until Dec. 31. Customers must retrieve this before Jan. 15, 2010.
Besides the obvious two features, fully supporting Snow Leopard and Windows 7, some of the awesome new features are best shown in screenshots.
Finally we have the Aero interface! This works in all view modes, not just full screen.
When in fullscreen mode, you can now configure a HotCorner to easily switch back to the OS X side with just your mouse.
The new Crystal View is a modified Coherence view, hiding all icons in the Dock and the OS X Parallels menu bar, moving access to menu items and a newly created folder icon in the Dock containing all your windows shortcuts.
The new MacLook feature automatically installs a custom Windows Theme (similar to those offered by products such as StarDocks’ Window Blinds) giving all your windows applications an OS X look and feel.
If you combine MacLook with Coherence View or Crystal View, the lines between native OS and virtual OS become even more blurred.
More importantly than all of that, its super fast. For me, it’s much much faster than VMWare Fusion 3. For the last few months, I’ve been in the closed beta program for Parallels 5, and the lack of communication and new builds had made us a bit weary. Sure enough, yesterday it released version 5 with none of the testers having a clue, and there are some new features we’d never seen (such as MacLook, multi-gesture support and Crystal view).
When VMWare Fusion 3 was released, I downloaded the trial and was impressed at how easy it was to migrate a copy of my Parallels Windows 7 VM over to Fusion. I wasn’t as impressed, however, at the sluggish performance of VMWare Fusion 3 when the VM loaded up. Running MS Access 2007 and Visual Studio windows became lethargic. The same operations under Parallels 5 just flew along with no issues. It’s important to note that I had the same basic VM configuration across both (1.5GB RAM, 1 CPU allocated), using Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition. Your mileage may vary, as this was most certainly not a scientific comparison study.
Parallels has also published a video of Parallels Desktop 5 in action.