Choosing between Windows and Mac can sometimes be tricky. When it’s about playing high-end games, the choice is a Windows computer. At other times it’s a Mac, because you want to be productive and have a pleasant user experience layered in elegant design and compatible hardware.
While both of these operating systems do their jobs well, they can, at times, be quite limiting from a user’s point of view.
If you are a Mac user, you’d want to be able to play a few Windows games or run Windows-only software. There’s no point in spending hundreds of dollars on a new Windows setup, and the best option you have is to run Windows on Mac.
But running Windows on Mac? Hmmm….leaves room for a lot of questions: Is it safe? Will it run well? Is it easy to install and use?
These questions are legitimate, considering how knotted this whole procedure might sound. But you don’t have to worry about these as Parallels Desktop lets you run Windows 10 or 11 on Mac without any hassle.
Why use Parallels instead of Boot Camp?
Sure, you could set up your Mac to run Windows with Boot Camp, but that means restarting your computer every time you need to use Windows. Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac lets you install Windows 10 on Mac through a virtual machine in a few simple and easy steps.
Since Parallels runs through a VM, you don’t have to reboot your Mac at all. This allows you to quickly switch between the Mac and Windows desktops. You can even combine the two desktops, if you want, and run Windows software right on your Mac desktop from your Mac’s dock.
The program supports the latest version of Windows and comes with compatibility for all hardware of your Mac. It has native support for gestures, camera, audio, Touch Bar (for apps such as SketchUp, OneNote, and AutoCAD), Retina Display, and more.
What’s new in Parallels Desktop 17 we like
Every time Apple releases a new macOS, Parallels Desktop releases a new version to support that OS. The latest release comes with some exciting features.
Support for Apple M1 chip and DirectX 11
The app is available as a universal binary, meaning you can download one file and it automatically installs the correct code for Macs with Intel or M1 processors. Now you can run virtual machines on a Mac with Apple M1 chip.
Parallels Desktop 17 also supports Direct X 11. It leverages the innovations and integration points of the newest macOS 12 Monterey to provide performance enhancements and more. But we think Parallels would also need to release DirectX 12 support to be officially supported on Windows 11.
The inclusion of DirectX 11 comes with the help of Apple’s Metal API. Metal gives access to Mac’s graphics processing unit (GPU) so that users can maximize the graphics and computing potential of their Mac hardware. With this update, Parallels Desktop is capable of running a wide range of applications and games.
Parallels Desktop 17 is fast, and by that, we mean that you can do a lot of the regular stuff with ease. Compared to the last version — Parallels Desktop 14 — it can start Office applications 80 percent faster. The user interface is more responsive, and the 3D graphics are also better.
Better integration with Mac
Love the Preview feature on your Mac? Select a file or a folder and press the spacebar to find out its properties?
The new update brings better integration. You will now be able to save your Windows passwords in keychain, preview thumbnails, drag and drop files from Safari, and even send a file through the Window’s mail app.
Some of the Windows apps integrate really well with your Mac. You will find MS Pain and Preview in the suggestions when you right-click on an image file on your Mac and select Open With. You can even set defaults.
How does Parallels Desktop 17 work
Downloading and installing Parallels Desktop 17 on Mac was straightforward. The latest setup file was a little over 210 MB, and it immediately started downloading Windows 10 after it was installed. The installation process was also fast — the speed depends on the speed of your Mac.
We used a Macbook Air 2017 for our testing purposes to see how the app performed with aging hardware.
The installation took place in a window in Mac. There were no reboots required. A reboot did happen, but it was inside the Windows virtual machine as it is while installing Windows.
What we liked was the simplicity of the entire download and installation process. Parallels Desktop has been released with ordinary users in mind. The installation process as a whole Windows is smooth and hassle-free.
You find minimal prompts, and it doesn’t even ask you to have a Windows disk image ready with you. It just downloads it for you directly from Microsoft. You can activate Windows later by purchasing it or entering a valid product ID.
Another great thing about Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is that it comes with Snapshot. Snapshot lets you save a guest system in multiple configurations that work well. This is really helpful when you want to go back to an older setting after making changes in your system that you do not wish to keep.
There’s also a rollback option that lets you get rid of all the changes to the system when you shut it down. It works great for spaces such as schools where the systems get messier as different people use it.
If you are worried about all that space on your little flash storage running out, then Reclaim Disk Space has got your back. You can also delete your snapshots and shut down Windows to get some extra space. To use Snapshots, just go to Options and click on Take Snapshot.
What is it like to use Parallels Desktop 17
On the feature front, the highlight point of this release has been Parallel Desktop’s excellent integration with Mac. This integration comes in the form of Coherence mode.
Coherence mode on Parallels Desktop
If you are a Mac user who loves windows as much, then this is a feature that has just been crafted for you. The Coherence mode is the coolest feature of Parallels Desktop and the handiest one too. It lets you run Windows software on Mac as if it was a Mac software. You won’t really have to directly interact with the Windows UI while doing that, which means that you won’t have to manage the Windows desktop.
To enter Coherence mode, go to view and click on Enter Coherence. Once in the Coherence mode, you won’t be able to see the Windows UI at all. There will be a Windows 10 icon in your dock, clicking on which will reveal the Start Menu of Windows 10. From there, you can open any application and even drag them to your Desktop to create a shortcut.
Coherence mode really sets the tone for a fluid and Windows 10 experience on your Mac. Done with the day’s work and just want to play some RPG? Just click on the game’s icon from your Mac’s Desktop, and you are good to go — you can enjoy a Windows game in Mac’s interface.
Performance and speed
One of the notable problems for emulators and virtual machines has been imitating the speed and performance of a native OS. How fast could a Windows virtual machine be on a Mac? Well, the results were not too disappointing.
We ran Windows 10 on our older Macbook Air to find out if we could perform our regular tasks without any noticeable delays. We were not disappointed with what we saw. Since the OS itself was in a clean state, sometimes it felt faster than our Mac.
We did notice some lag when we opened YouTube to stream a high-quality video, along with other open tabs on the Edge browser. It was a bit annoying at times.
We tried to look at how it was affecting the resources of our Mac. The CPU usage would peak at different times, and there would be occasional glitches if you had many tabs opened.
Of course, things would have been different with a faster processor. The newer MacBooks can take Windows 10 really well. You can even play games such as Skyrim on Mac by installing Windows 10 through Parallels Desktop.
With the CPU consumed in all the process, the battery was also draining fast. We do not really recommend you to play big games or run heavy applications while you are away without your charger. If you have an old Mac, the best way to get the most out of your Windows 10 set up would be to close all applications on your Mac and then try running Parallels Desktop.
However, with more powerful Macs, the difference will hardly seem noticeable, and you can have an excellent experience with Windows 10. It’ll be fast and fluid, and you will be able to use it like any other original installation.
The Preferences menu of Parallels desktop has some useful options that can help you customize the way you use virtual machines. There is an option to view shortcuts for a particular virtual machine. You can even add or remove shortcuts from the list. There are also application shortcuts that you can customize.
Apart from this, you can further tighten up the security for Parallels desktop by having a password for creating, adding, removing, cloning, and even for entering the preferences of the software. You can also set a custom password for added security.
A good knowledge base
Parallels Desktop has been around since 2007, which means that there are plenty of resources around it. In case you ever get stuck and want to see tutorial videos for specific actions, you can always check out their knowledge base. There’s also an active and dedicated forum where you can talk about the software and ask questions around it.
Is Parallels for Mac safe?
If you are careful, then yes, it’s not a big deal.
Parallels for Mac works as a virtual machine, so it does not allow any access to the keychain or home folder of your macOS. Malware targeting the Windows you will be running won’t be compatible with your OSX.
However, you are still vulnerable to attacks if you are using your Windows on Mac to run banking applications and such. This way, you could be susceptible to malware attacks. This is one part that you should genuinely watch out for. Use your Windows only to browse safe websites. You must also make sure that you do not share your folders across virtual machines. If you do this, then any application or virus inside your virtual machine will be able to access your cookies and directories to hijack your accounts.
Just be careful what you are doing on your virtual machine, and you will be good to go.
Is Parallels Desktop 17 free
No, Parallels Desktop is not free. It does come with a 14-day trial version, which you can use to figure out if this is the software you need to keep running Windows 10 on your Mac. Frankly speaking, with the kind of integration it brings, you won’t be missing Windows when you are on your Mac.
A home and student package of Parallels desktop costs $79.99. The Pro and the Business editions come at a subscription cost of $99.99 per year.
Upgrading to Parallels desktop 17 costs $49.99 and is the same for all the versions.
It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Is Parallers Desktop 17 worth it?
Growing up around computers and software, a lot of us have wanted to install Windows on a Mac, or the other way. Virtual machines are complicated, but Parallels Desktop has been proving that it can make the process of installing Windows on Mac really simple and user-friendly.
There are other virtual machine options available to Mac users, including the free and open source VirtualBox, but Parallels is different in that it’s designed exclusively with Mac users in mind. Parallels isn’t free, but there are hundreds of little design touches that help make running Windows within macOS as painless as possible, and that make setting everything up quick and easy. It’s well worth the cost.
So if you like bringing things together, and enjoy utilizing the power of both Windows and macOS, then Parallers Desktop 17 is a must-have for you.