Parallels is truly amazing

I remember the day in June 2005 that Steve Jobs announced that from that point forward, Macs would be built on Intel processors.

I said:

Is it just a dream of mine that in 2007 or so I’ll be able to buy hardware from Apple and use something like “Fast User Switching” to jump between Longhorn and OS X “Leopard” (the code name of the next version of OS X) on a whim without the performance hit of emulation?

And here we are. And the reality is actually better than my dream.

The Parallels folks have been churning out betas of their software like crazy. This week, they released build 3150, also known as “Release Candidate 2.” The first few betas of Parallels 2.5 were a little buggy with the crashing, but the last two have been very solid on my MacBook Pro. RC2 introduces a feature that lets you use Coherence (which drops out the Windows desktop completely, and lets you run Windows applications from the dock as if they were Mac applications) and still have access to the Windows Start menu through the dock. This version also works better with dual displays than the previous version did. So now I have Outlook, FeedDemon and Trillian running right alongside Windows 2004 and BonEcho (Mac OS X optimized build of Firefox) and the only way you can tell the Windows apps from the Mac ones is by which side of the window the close button appears.

Previous beta versions added fun things like complete USB2 support (now with iSight!), drag & drop between Mac and Windows desktops (still have to turn Coherence off to get to the Windows desktop) and more.

My wishes for Parallels perfection:

  • The ability to access the Windows desktop without turning the Windows task bar back on.
  • The ability to map helper apps to the Mac side. By that I mean I want to click on a link in an Outlook message and have BonEcho (Mac OS X browser) open instead of Firefox on the PC side. I want to click on a “.doc” application link in Windows and have Word 2004 come up.