Parallels Desktop 7 Impressions

As you might have expected, the release of Lion has been very closely followed by a new version of Parallels Desktop. The new version, 7, adds support for the new Lion window management features, Mission Control, plus a host of other additions, enhancements and performance improvements.

I run Parallels in two different usage cases; on a MacBook Pro for running Visual Studio, Beyond Compare and other windows apps essential to my workflow, and on an iMac for running, well, mostly games downloaded from GOG.com or Steam.

Parallels 7 thoroughly enhances both of these experiences, with its enhanced graphics performance being very, very noticeable in games. From version 6 to 7, Battlefield Bad Company 2, a fairly recent and graphically intense game, has gone from a sluggish, unplayable mess with graphical artefacts marring the screen, to fast-enough-to-play. Unfortunately it still seems to freeze periodically, and only unfreezes when you use mission control to switch away from Parallels and then back; I think this is a problem with my iMac, though, as it happens elsewhere. Strangely, though, it hasn’t happened in things like Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, which plays beautifully in Parallels.

Other, less intensive games, seem to play beautifully, too, making Parallels 7 even better for gaming; although you’re probably not going to enjoy Battlefield 3 in it.

Playing Rollercoaster Tycoon ( the original ) on the MacBook Air is a pleasant experience, its 768 pixel vertical resolution lends itself well to classic gaming and Parallels makes it easy.

From a work perspective, yes I frequently use Parallels 7 to run Beyond Compare and Visual Studio at work, Parallels 7 is also an improvement. Everything is snappier, and the full-screen support for Lion means that Parallels gets its own “space” when it’s in full screen mode.

Overall, I’d recommend the upgrade to anyone and have recommended Parallels + Windows 7 as an absolutely essential combo for anyone I’ve ever managed to migrate onto the Mac platform.