Every day the number of users that need to install a virtual machine on their Mac decreases, whether it be an installation of Windows, Linux or even the beta of a future version of macOS. However, it is undeniable that a considerable number of Mac owners still need some kind of solution; most of the time, to run programs or games related to the Microsoft operating system.
I am one of them: as a student of architecture and urbanism, I need access to some software available only on Windows (incidentally, the most notable of them, Revit, has already become a joke in the world of architects because of the continuous promises of a version for Mac that never sees daylight); I also have the custom, although not a gamer to play some exclusive titles for the Microsoft OS.
Until recently, my chosen tool to accomplish these tasks was the indefectible Boot Camp, a native feature of Macs. However, with the need to restart the computer every time I needed to change systems, in addition to the relative difficulty in transferring files from one to the other, it was clear to me that that was not the ideal solution.
That was how, when I saw the opportunity on the horizon to test the Parallels Desktop 12, the new version of one of the most popular machine virtualization software in the Mac world, I grabbed it immediately. The beginning of the test coincided with the release of Sierra, so I joined the useful to the pleasant: I made a backup of the files of both systems on my MacBook, completely erased the SSD and performed a clean installation of the new macOS, installing Parallels right then and configuring a virtual machine with Windows 10 the same one that previously ran on the separate partition.
My only concern with the change had to do with performance: as we know, unlike Boot Camp (which is a separate partition from the disk and therefore accesses the machine's resources unrestrictedly), a virtual machine lives "inside" another one system and therefore there is no way to take advantage of all the firepower of your processor / RAM / graphics and everything. As I, on some occasions, deal with reasonably complex projects in Revit and other modeling programs, I was afraid that Parallels would compromise the fluidity / speed of the work.
The methodology of my test, considering this, was the simplest possible: as a common user, I simply evaluated the experience of using the Parallels virtual machine, comparing it to the one I had previously with Boot Camp without performance measurements and without complicated numbers , just the purest experience. For you to have a measure of comparison with your computer, the Mac used in the test was a 13-inch MacBook Pro, from mid-2012, equipped with an SSD, 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 chip, Intel HD Graphics graphics 4000 of 1,536MB and 16GB of RAM.
Here are my impressions.
The configuration of Parallels Desktop 12 could not be more intuitive. It is fully translated into Portuguese, but even if it was not, a person with little familiarity with English could follow the steps to install their virtual machine without much difficulty.
When starting the tool for the first time, it has all the necessary options, with the three most common ones (?Get Windows 10 from Microsoft?, ?Install Windows from an external device? or ?Transfer Windows from an existing PC?) highlighted and others (like installing Linux / Android / Chromium OS virtual machines and others) at the bottom. Choosing either option, Parallels guides the user with absolutely simple steps to follow until the moment the virtual machine is there, ready to use. Extremely positive point here!
My first impression when I started using the Parallels virtual machine was of total and delicious technological freedom: in the most tied to the boot camp, I can just enjoy the program I want, any time I want, being created for macOS or for Windows. I can also take a file from one of the systems and immediately switch to the other, without having to stick a USB stick on my computer and restart it. I'm no longer limited, too, my initial disk partition if I need to install new, heavy software on Windows, I can do that without any problems. A new world was unfolding in front of me.
Better yet, I don't even need it remember I'm using Windows: in mode Coherence, the system applications open in independent windows, on the Mac's desktop. This, for me, the killer feature of Parallels you can simply forget about the advantages and disadvantages of using Mac or Windows and simply have both on same place, without a clear distinction. the best of both worlds!
Of course, like any relationship, after the initial enchantment, problems begin to arise. In the case of Parallels, it was exactly what I expected, but perhaps on a smaller scale than I feared: in fact, things suffer a small loss of performance; in my experience, however, this disadvantage is easily offset by the convenience of using both systems in the same place. Just to illustrate, a 3D project in Revit that was handled with total fluidity in Boot Camp presented a small amount of lag on the virtual machine but nothing that stops the work or disturbs a lot.
In the configurations of each virtual machine, Parallels allows the user to finely control how much of the computer's resources can be extracted by virtualization, however the resource is limited according to the edition of the software. In the edition I tested, the traditional one (and cheaper), the maximum RAM supported by secondary 8GB installations, half of what I have on my Mac; more expensive editions (we will talk about them soon) allow the use of up to 64GB!
I'm a simple guy who likes to keep things simple. I say this because I don't enjoy almost any of the special features of Parallels, which doesn't mean, however, that they don't exist. Quite the contrary, incidentally: the tool brings a series of options related to security, data protection and backups that will satisfy any user concerned and more zealous than me with their virtual machines.
The virtualizer brings, for example, the backup feature SmartGuard, which saves an image of the virtual machine at an interval chosen by the user and can save everything on the Mac's Time Machine. It is also possible to password encrypt the startup of your virtual machines, as well as configure the program so that the Mac password is required when any change in the machines is made.
A very interesting feature (this one, I used it!) Is the sharing of folders. With it, a particular folder on the Mac has its content automatically reflected on any virtual machine; for example, when installing Windows 10, Parallels automatically configured the Mesa (Desktop) on my Mac as a shared folder from, all files on it also appeared (and disappeared, if moved / deleted) on the Windows desktop. It makes work much easier in some scenarios.
Parallels Desktop 12 has three editions: the standard costs R $ 265 for a lifetime license or the same price for an annual subscription that entitles you to free updates for future versions of the software. The most advanced editions are available in the subscription scheme: Pro Edition costs R $ 310/ year, same value as Business Edition; both also include free updates for future versions. Differences between editions include support for more computer resources, developer support by email / phone, advanced networking tools and more; everything can be checked on this page.
If you already have Parallels 10 or 11 (single, standard or Pro), you can upgrade to the new version by R $ 150. There are also special prices for students through OnTheHub, as well as a 14-day trial version. In general, they are not low values, but they are certainly worth it if you are in need of a virtualization solution for your Mac.
In Brazil, Parallels distributed by Boxware.
In the end, I'm happy to have switched Boot Camp to Parallels. I would be lying if I said that I don't sometimes miss the complete fluidity of Windows in the separate partition; on the other hand, the advantages of the virtual machine had, at least in experience, a much greater weight at the time of decision. And take a look: maybe it wouldn't be the case if it were otherwise, but Parallels is such polished and well-built software that, as they say popularly, I like to use it.