Parallels, the Mac virtualization veteran, has issued an upgrade to its popular Desktop pc software. This will add support for the rounded bits of Windows 11 and Mac-in-a-Mac via the impending Monterey version.
Support for Windows 11 is likely to increase more than a few eyes. After all, Apple’s M1 processor isn’t on Microsoft’s infamous hardware compatibility checklist for its future operating system. But based on our test drive, Parallels has put in a lot of efforts to get the script to function, rounded edges and all.
Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac
Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is, at its core, the latest in a series of platforms from the firm that enable Windows software to run on a Mac. Earlier in the Intel times, booting up Windows on a Mac was a relatively simple operation (we have an old i7 Mac Mini on the desk that runs Windows 10 via Bootcamp), but M1 silicon has made the whole thing somewhat more tricky.
As a result, it’s convenient that Microsoft provides an Arms version of Windows, which Parallels began offering for M1 hardware in a prior edition. The new version 17, which adds support for Windows 11, raises concerns about what will happen once Windows 11 moves out of preview and into the wider public.
For Windows 11, Microsoft requires a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which can be enabled virtually. However, the requirement for specific types of CPUs may provide a greater issue for Apple M1 chip users.
What is Parallels point of view?
“We need a little more push from the users that they need it,” he says. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will listen (probably not).
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Parallels – What’s the change?
For the time being, The Reg ran the software on an 8GB M1 Mac Mini to check how the Windows Insider Preview of Windows 11 on Arm performed. Well, especially considering the lack of Intel hardware. Parallels will proudly display statistics indicating that the starting time of Windows 11 on Arm is 33% faster than Windows 10 on Arm, with a 20% increase in disc performance. Our subjective impression was that everything was a lot snappier. Native Windows on Arm software performed admirably, and Intel apps performed admirably as well.
We fired up Sea of Thieves to put the hardware, emulation, and virtualization to the test, and were pleasantly surprised to find it vaguely playable on the M1 Mac (Parallels recommends a 16GB Mac for gaming, but we only had 8GB), even if the results won’t keep our dedicated gaming rig awake at night.
Although some of the benchmarks we conducted may cause some users of Microsoft’s flagship Arm-based hardware to toss and turn. The efficiency of the rather weedy 8GB M1 Mac Mini in single core was roughly double that of the Surface Pro X, and a good 1.5x faster in multi core.
Parallels was coy on the topic, only saying that “on M1; Windows is running a lot quicker than on Windows-specific hardware”. As for the target market, Parallels told us that a considerable group of customers use the software to play Windows games on their Macs, and the new version should not disappoint. Updates in Coherence mode and other modifications around usability (such as drag and drop); will also be useful for the majority who need it for that one strange app (presumably Excel).
Aside from Windows, Linux is still supported, and audio and video enhancements will please Penguinistas. And macOS Monterey is supported as both a host and a guest operating system.
However, there is a cost to be paid. A new membership costs £69.99 per year, while a perpetual licence is available for £79.99. In addition, the cost of Windows itself must be considered.
Nonetheless, as Apple strives to update its hardware to use its own silicon. Parallels Desktop 17 represents a way to get that one old Windows app functioning on your bright new Mac.