- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

About two months ago, I saluted what is now Parallels Desktop for Mac as a stunning achievement of “virtualization,” the ability to create a “virtual [computing] machine,” or “VM,” inside another computer. The idea is to be able to run another operating system alongside your computer’s main one.

Herndon-based Parallels has released the final version of the Mac virtualization software, and if you have an Intel-based Mac, and a need to run just about any version of Microsoft Windows, your choice is clear: Either pay $49.95 now for the program, or pay $79.95 after July 15.

There’s just no better way — so far — to run Windows (or Linux) on one of the newest Macs.

The software’s cost won’t be your only expense, however. You’ll want to maximize the RAM on whatever Mac you are using; even 1 gigabyte is a bit “close” for my liking. To push things to the max, you’ll want to have as much memory as your Mac can handle.

And you will have to buy a copy of Windows, if you don’t have one already.

Current versions of Windows cost about $200, as noted here previously.

Why go through all this? There are certain applications that, for now, are available only on Windows. If studying the Bible is your thing, for example, you may want to use the Logos Bible package, or the scholarly oriented BibleWorks, and neither is available in Mac versions right now. If you want to design and print your own checks, programs such as VersaCheck are, again, Windows-only, without Mac “clones” available.

In short, even the most Mac-happy “switchers,” as converts from Windows are called, may have one or two programs they can’t yet live without. Parallels Desktop lets things coexist quite nicely.

Unlike earlier “emulation” programs such as Virtual PC, ironically now owned by Microsoft Corp., Parallels Desktop for Mac runs faster and better, thanks to the “Intel inside” nature of the new Macs.

Microsoft hasn’t announced a firm release date for an Intel-compatible version of Virtual PC yet. It will very much depend on available memory, but Parallels Desktop lets Windows run quite nicely. You feel as though you can do some actual computing work with the “guest” operating system.

Installation and setup are easy. It seems, as noted before, like alchemy, but Windows XP installs quickly under the program, and it runs well.

Unlike the “Beta” test versions, you can invoke a “full-screen” view of Windows on the Mac. However, much cognitive dissonance may result from seeing a standard Microsoft desktop full-size above the Apple MacBook’s name.

There is one hiccup right now, which Parallels spokesman Ben Rudolph blames on the architecture of Microsoft’s Mac Office applications suite.

If you highlight and “copy” an item in Windows, Office applications such as Word for Mac won’t recognize that something is on the digital “clipboard.” I solved this by pasting into an open TextEdit document, but admittedly that’s a rough solution. One hopes the software parties involved will resolve the impasse shortly, since doing so will make Parallels Desktop a truly wonderful application.

• Read Mark Kellner’s Technology blog, updated daily on The Washington Times’ Web site, at www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

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