Run Windows on Mac easier than ever with new Parallels Desktop 12

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Windows 10 on Mac
A performance boost in Parallels Desktop 12 means Windows 10 will run faster than ever on your Mac.
Screenshot: Parallels

Parallels Desktop, a go-to program for anybody wanting to run Windows on a Mac, just got more powerful and convenient to use. The Parallels Desktop 12 update, brings increased speed as well as a suite of handy new tools that simplify everyday tasks.

“This is the best Windows-on-Mac performance in the history of Parallels,” said John Uppendahl, Parallels’ vice president of communications, during a briefing about the new software, which will be available Thursday for subscribers and upgraders. (New users must wait until Aug. 23.)

While web-based tools are on the rise, many people still find themselves relying on the thousands of platform-specific programs still in existence. Increasingly sophisticated virtualization software like Parallels Desktop and Parallels Access (which lets you access home or work computers via iPhone, iPad or Android phone) makes it easier than ever to use any file or program, whenever and wherever you want.

“Everybody’s straddling OSes,” Uppendahl said. “We make it possible for you to have everything you need.”

The upgrade offers a claimed 25 percent performance boost over the previous version of Parallels Desktop. During the demo, Windows apps loaded instantly.

“We are on the bleeding edge of performance,” said Uppendahl. “It feels native.”

Tiny tweaks make a big difference

The developers of Parallels Desktop also came up with simple ways to make the experience better than before. You can, for instance, buy Windows 10 directly from within Parallels Desktop or schedule Windows updates so they don’t bring your presentation to a screaming halt. Recently used files will be readily available on both your Mac and your Windows virtual machine, and all internet passwords can be saved to your Mac Keychain.

“It’s just all these little thoughtful things,” Uppendahl said.

There’s good news for early adopters who want to run Windows on Mac, too: Parallels Desktop 12 fully supports the upcoming macOS Sierra as either a host or a guest OS. Parallels’ virtual machines will even show up in macOS Sierra’s new Optimized Storage feature.

A virtual machine wizard makes it simple to add Windows and other operating systems to all versions of Parallels Desktop. Pro and Business editions of the virtualization software also add various features, like network simulators and various presets, that will be useful for developers and enterprise deployments.

Parallels Desktop 12 adds Parallels Toolbox

Parallels Toolbox
Parallels Toolbox brings 20 (and counting) handy tools to Parallels Desktop.
Screenshot: Parallels

One of the slickest new features in Parallels Desktop 12 is Parallels Toolbox, which brings 20 single-purpose utilities to Mac. From muting your Mac’s mic or grabbing the perfect screenshot to downloading or converting a video, the tools are straightforward and convenient.

Some of the functionality included in the handy software suite can be found by digging into the Mac’s operating system, but Parallels Toolbox puts everything at your fingertips. The tools include, per Parallels’ press release:

  • Distraction-free presentation modes for both Mac and Windows VMs, including Hide Desktop Files, Do Not Disturb,
    Keep Mac Awake.
  • Archive, encrypt and password-protect all of your files.
  • Simply capture screenshots or record video of a screen, window or area.
  • Download videos from YouTube, Facebook and other websites with a single click.
  • Time management tools (an alarm, timer, date countdown and stopwatch).
  • Unpack files from ZIP, RAR and many other formats.

Parallels Toolbox is included in all new versions of Parallels Desktop, with Pro and Business edition subscribers gaining access to planned rollouts of additional tools. A standalone subscription to Parallels Toolbox is also available for $9.99 a year.

Parallels Desktop is good for gamers

Gaming in Parallels Desktop
Parallels Desktop 12 brings PC and Xbox gaming to Mac.
Screenshot: Parallels

If you want to play PC or Xbox games on your Mac, you’re in luck, too. Parallels worked with Blizzard Entertainment to optimize Parallels Desktop 12 for hit game Overwatch. Parallels Desktop also lets you load the Windows 10 Xbox app on Mac.

Parallels Desktop pricing and availability

Since Parallels Desktop 12 comes in three editions, and existing users and upgraders have a variety of licenses, pricing info gets thorny fast. It’s probably best to let Parallels’ press release lay out the details:

Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac, Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition and Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition are available today for subscribers and upgraders from Parallels Desktop 10 and 11, and general availability is Aug.23 online and at local retail and online stores worldwide.

The recommended retail price (RRP) of Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac is $79.99. Upgrades for existing Parallels Desktop 10 and 11 for Mac perpetual license customers are $49.99, with an introductory offer to upgrade to a Parallels Desktop Pro Edition subscription for $49.99 per year for life. Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and Parallels Desktop Business Edition are available to new customers for $99.99 per year. Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and Business Edition include a complimentary Parallels Access subscription to remotely access up to five Mac or Windows PCs from any device.

Parallels Toolbox for Mac is a feature of all versions of Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac whic hwill also be available as a stand-alone subscription product for $9.99 per year, including all new tools and updates planned for release every few months. Starting Aug. 23, a 14-day full-featured free trial can be downloaded and subscription purchased.