Parallels Introduces Desktop 4 for Mac With Major Improvements

On Tuesday, Parallels released Desktop 4 for Macintosh, the fourth generation of their virtualization software for Macs. The new version features a new user interface, 50 percent performance gain, up to 8 GB RAM per virtual machine, a new view mode, scheduled snapshots and more.

In June 2006, Parallels released Desktop 2 for the Mac, and in June 2007 Desktop 3 was released. Since the original launch, Desktop has sold more than 1.5 million copies in over 125 countries and 10 languages.

Version 4 is a major update which adds features requested by customers, adds performance enhancements and brings an entirely new look and feel to the application.

Fedora 8 In Full Screen Mode (MacBook Pro)

The major new features of Desktop 4 include:

  • 64-bit - Support for 64-bit Windows and Linux OSes in Virtual Machines (VMs). A Core 2 Duo or Xeon is required for 64-bit support.
  • Modality View - Enables users to set the size and transparency of a guest OS window. The window is full scaled down in size rather than showing just a section. This allows the user to monitor activity of a virtual OS running in the background with only a modest increase in CPU usage.
  • Clips - Enables uses to share screen captures across OS and copy to the clipboard.
  • SmartConnect - The user can choose and save which OS specific USB devices are connected to.
  • Keyboard Mapping - Provides four main profiles: Generic, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, which provide an optimized profile for use with each operating system. Users can further customize their keyboard shortcuts within these profiles, or can create their own complete profiles.
  • SmartMount - Allows users to share external storage across OSes.
  • Speech Recognition - Users can control Parallels Desktop and Windows via voice commands.
  • Inclusion of Acronis True Image Home - This enables users to back up their entire virtual PC system how and when they choose. Acronis True Image Home includes the complete disk backup, file backup, disk cloner, file shredder, system cleanup, and disk cleanser, giving users greater flexibility to protect their virtual PC systems against viruses, virtual system crashes, and software downloads gone wrong.
  • Inclusion of Acronis Disk Director Suite - This gives users more control over their virtual PC system. The product includes a partition manager, OS selector, partition recovery and disk editor, enabling users to resize, move, copy, split, and merge partitions without losing data, recover accidentally lost or deleted partitions and perform advanced operations.

Modality View

In addition, the operation of Desktop 4 has been improved in many areas. For example:

  • CPU usage - Users can assign up to 8 GB of RAM to a VM as well as up to 8 cores to a given VM.
  • Safe mode - The user can choose to run in safe mode. If itis suspected that the OS has been compromised, the VM can be shut down, and any changes made to the OS will be discarded.
  • CPU Optimizations - Previously, at idle, Desktop 3 and its VMs would consume about 25 to 33 percent of the Macis CPU. That has been reduced to about 0.6 to 3 percent. In addition, the Macis battery status can now be viewed when using Windows in full screen mode.
  • Graphics Optimizations - Desktop 4 adds smooth graphics through support for DirectX 9, Direct X Pixel Shader 2.0 and OpenGL 2.0.
  • SmartGuard - The OS snapshot capability has been improved to allow scheduled, automatic snapshots. A snapshot manager displays the snapshots in chronological order.

VM Configuration

Parallels told TMO that with updates to Vista and optimizations in Desktop 4, the performance of Vista can be now expected to be on par with Windows XP.

Parallels Desktop 4 for the Mac is immediately available at, for example,, Apple Store, Best Buy, Fryis Electronics, MicroCenter, Office Depot and Staples nationwide. The product can also be purchased through Parallels website at

Desktop 4 system requirements: An Intel Mac running at 1.66 GHz or faster and 1 GB of RAM. 2 GB of RAM is recommended. A Core 2 Duo or better processor is required to run 64-bit OSes. Each VM requires about 15 GB of disk space. Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later is required.

Desktop 4 is priced at US$79.99. Current Desktop 3 users can upgrade for $39.99 until November 30. The regular upgrade price is $49.99. Customers who purchased version 3 after September 1, 2008 are eligible for a free upgrade. The Parallels Internet Security and Acronis software, valued at US$175, are included free.

Windows XP on the Mac Desktop