Parallels Desktop Standard Edition

Set up virtual machines easily on your Mac with the integrated Installation Assistant

Import existing installations from Boot Camp or other Windows desktops

Perform one-click optimizations to boost performance depending on your primary task for each VM

Access your favorite Windows applications right from via the OS X; also do that the other way by access OS X applications directly via Windows

Instant access to over 20 one-touch tools to simply everyday tasks; works on both the OS X and Windows

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Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, in short, is one of the best virtualization programs that you’d ever get the chance to run on your Mac, period. With the ability to run not just Windows, but also numerous other operating systems as well, this awesome VM software truly turns your Mac into a major powerhouse, and that’s barely scratching the surface. Whether it’s running Windows seamlessly alongside the OS X, working on VM applications directly via OS X, or merging operating systems with proprietary Coherence technology, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition lets you easily do all of that and a whole lot more. Also expect unparalleled performance thanks to the inclusion cutting-edge optimization technologies.

Parallels Subscription

Parallels Desktop Standard Edition requires yearly subscriptions, and before you start getting concerned, it more than makes up for the recurring fees with regular security and compatibility updates. Before purchasing your subscription, you need to create an account with Parallels, where you can then view any pertinent information including your license key after making the purchase – simply run the Parallels installer afterwards to install Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, which you can then access via the Apple menu. Enter your licensing information when prompted, then perform any software updates to ensure that you have the latest version of Parallels Desktop Standard Edition running on your Mac.

Comparison with Boot Camp

Before we get into the various features present within Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, let’s take a moment to discuss how it differs from Boot Camp. With the latter, it’s all about running Windows separate from the OS X, with complete system restarts required whenever you want to switch operating systems. Combine that with the numerous performance issues – and poor battery life on MacBooks – that you’ve got to endure, and you have a recipe for disaster. With Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, however, you don’t have to worry about any of those issues – expect to run your VMs right alongside the OS X with negligible performance issues and very little power consumption to boot.

Installing VMs

Creating VMs take next to no effort, thanks to the inclusion of a dedicated module dubbed the “Installation Assistant.” Choose between a range of options, from creating Windows VMs from scratch to importing existing installations. For example, you can choose to install Windows traditionally through the use of removable media such as DVDs, flash drives, or ISO images. Alternately, you can opt to buy Windows directly from Microsoft – the Installation Assistant handles everything from making the purchase to downloading the installation files. When importing existing installations, you can either do so via a Windows PC or through Boot Camp – ideal when you want to keep using Windows on your Mac with your settings intact.

The best thing about Parallels Desktop Standard Edition; it’s not limited to creating and running just Windows. Expect to run a bunch of additional operating systems, including favorites such as Ubuntu, Fedora, and Chrome OS. Don’t think about jumping through any additional hoops to get those running either – the Installation Assistant features built-in options for each supported operating system, allowing you to easily set up your preferred OS in record time. At times, however, the Installation Assistant may fail to detect to certain OS distributable, particular those of Linux, so you may have to manually specify the operating system if that happens.

OS X Integration

Parallels Desktop Standard Edition is designed from the ground up to provide seamless VM integration with the OS X. After creating a virtual machine, you can proceed with booting it up via the Parallels Control Panel, accessible via the Apple menu – during the very first time that you start up a VM, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition automatically installs the Parallels Toolbox, a collection of one-touch productivity tools that we’ll be discussing later. Getting back on track, the Windows VM starts like an actual desktop, but in windowed-mode that you can move around, resize, or minimize just like a normal OS X application. You can, however, also choose to run it in full-screen mode, where switching between the OS X and Windows desktop are made possible through a simple keystroke.

Rather than accessing the VM whenever you want to use a Windows-based application, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition features unparalleled technology that allows you to access the entire library of Windows application directly from via the Apple menu. Applications opened that way are featured within the OS X Dock for faster access, making the entire function quite revolutionary. In addition to bridging the gap between both operating systems, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition features proprietary technology dubbed “Coherence Mode” that allow for even more integration between the operating systems – in short, both the OS X and Windows applications run side-by-side, using similar folders to store files and documents.

Going further in to the massive integration between the OS X and Windows, the possibilities are simply limitless. You can, for example, choose to install Windows-based applications directly from via the OS X itself without having to launch the particular virtual machine that you want the application added to – simply specify the VM and Parallels Desktop Standard Edition automatically does the rest for you. In addition, you can also choose to determine Windows applications to launch automatically when you insert removable media such as music CDs and video DVDs while in the OS X desktop. Further, moving items between operating systems involves a simple drag ‘n drop, and if you’ve used other VM software, you know how hard such a normal task otherwise is.

Moving on, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition features a separate mode dubbed the “Presentation Mode” that allows you to perform presentations in Windows, just as if you’re using a dedicated Windows desktop for the task – disable OS X notifications, hide host applications, and override OS X settings to make that happen. Finally, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition provides full compatibility when it comes to hardware – devices created for use in Windows usually don’t support the OS X, but with Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, expect the entire repertoire of dedicated Windows devices to seamless run on your Mac with no issues – you don’t even need your VM running to make that possible.

Retina Support

While reading, you may’ve wondered about how Windows VMs actually displays on Apple’s Retina screens. It’s understandable, since applications unoptimized for high DPI screens don’t usually look well at the end of the day. With Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, however, VMs deploy unique technology that automatically optimizes each and every Windows applications to feature support for Retina technology. Expect applications to display just as good as they would normally look on the OS X, and with Coherence mode enabled – we’ll touch upon than further along – you really can’t find the difference when using the applications of both operating systems side-by-side.

Performance Enhancements

Parallels Desktop Standard Edition provides a host of options that increase the performance of each and every VM running on your Mac. Let’s go through a few of them now, shall we. Whenever you create a fresh VM, for example, you’re prompted to specify the main task that you’ll be using the VM for – select from options such as Development, Testing, and Design for task-specific performance enhancements. In addition, VMs also receive up to 8 GB of virtual system memory and four virtual CPUs for astounding performance gains when using applications that require huge amounts of system resources. Further, you also gain access to the “Travel Mode” that allows for increased battery savings when you are on the move with your MacBook.

Windows operating systems require regular maintenance to prevent slowdowns, but with Parallels Desktop Standard Edition, you don’t have to manually launch a VM to perform that – simply select the Maintenance option relating to an installed VM via the Apple menu and you are done. When running a VM alongside the OS X, you can also choose to pause Windows automatically when no applications are opened – this allows the OS X to gain access to increased resources that otherwise would be tied up unnecessarily. If you are a gamer, you’d be delighted to hear that Parallels Desktop Standard Edition also supports DirectX and OpenGL for an unparalleled gaming experience.

Parallels Toolbox

The Parallels Toolbox is a bonus package of one-touch tools that you get as part of your Parallels Desktop Standard Edition purchase. Thanks to this package, you can perform a variety of tasks to enhance your overall user experience while using OS X – if you have any VMs installed, a dedicated set of tools also appear for use with Windows. Whether it’s taking screenshots, archiving files, recording audio, or converting videos, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition lets you do all of those in record time. Usually, the Parallels Toolbox gets installed by default the first time you create a VM – if you just want to use the tools before that, Parallels Desktop Standard Edition makes it possible via manual installation.

Should I Buy It?

Parallels Desktop Standard Edition isn’t just your run-of-the-mill virtualization program; in fact, it’s a whole lot more than that. With the uncanny ability to run VMs alongside the OS X and proprietary technologies that goes so far as to merge operating systems, the functionality that you gain with Parallels Desktop Standard Edition is quite unprecedented. That isn’t all; whether it’s numerous performance enhancements to boost the speeds of installed VMs, compatibility with dozens of additional operating systems, or collections of one-touch tools to increase productivity, there’s nothing quite like Parallels Desktop Standard Edition that you’ll ever comes across when dealing with VMs on your Mac.