Hot on the heels of the release of VMWare Fusion 3, the folks at Parallels have released Parallels Desktop 5, matching the features of VMWare Fusion 3 and adding some new ones to boot. You can get a quick overview of the newest features in the […]


Hot on the heels of the release of VMWare Fusion 3, the folks at Parallels have released Parallels Desktop 5, matching the features of VMWare Fusion 3 and adding some new ones to boot. You can get a quick overview of the newest features in the Parallels press release.

Parallels Desktop 5 costs $79.99 for the full package, or $49.99 to upgrade from either Parallels Desktop 3 or 4. Parallels is also offering a free upgrade key for those who bought Parallels 4 after Oct. 1. This is also valid for Parallels 4 purchases up until Dec. 31. Customers must retrieve this before Jan. 15, 2010.

Besides the obvious two features, fully supporting Snow Leopard and Windows 7, some of the awesome new features are best shown in screenshots.

Finally we have the Aero interface! This works in all view modes, not just full screen.


When in fullscreen mode, you can now configure a HotCorner to easily switch back to the OS X side with just your mouse.


The new Crystal View is a modified Coherence view, hiding all icons in the Dock and the OS X Parallels menu bar, moving access to menu items and a newly created folder icon in the Dock containing all your windows shortcuts.


The new MacLook feature automatically installs a custom Windows Theme (similar to those offered by products such as StarDocks’ Window Blinds) giving all your windows applications an OS X look and feel.


If you combine MacLook with Coherence View or Crystal View, the lines between native OS and virtual OS become even more blurred.


More importantly than all of that, its super fast. For me, it’s much much faster than VMWare Fusion 3. For the last few months, I’ve been in the closed beta program for Parallels 5, and the lack of communication and new builds had made us a bit weary. Sure enough, yesterday it released version 5 with none of the testers having a clue, and there are some new features we’d never seen (such as MacLook, multi-gesture support and Crystal view).

When VMWare Fusion 3 was released, I downloaded the trial and was impressed at how easy it was to migrate a copy of my Parallels Windows 7 VM over to Fusion. I wasn’t as impressed, however, at the sluggish performance of VMWare Fusion 3 when the VM loaded up. Running MS Access 2007 and Visual Studio windows became lethargic. The same operations under Parallels 5 just flew along with no issues. It’s important to note that I had the same basic VM configuration across both (1.5GB RAM, 1 CPU allocated), using Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition. Your mileage may vary, as this was most certainly not a scientific comparison study.

Parallels has also published a video of Parallels Desktop 5 in action.

  1. Can you quantify the performance differences between Fusion 3 and Desktop 5?

    1. Jean Paul Vieira Tuesday, November 10, 2009

      VMWARE 3.0: 1850 Marks
      Parallels 5.0: 2540 Marks
      Boot Camp 3.0: 4680 Marks
      Jean Paul.

    2. I have purchased a copy of vm fusion and parallels 5. Initially a big vm fusion user. When I start moving my windows xp to my imac found vmfusion fell way short on methods to transfer the data over. Also I had never sucessfully moved any physical machine using vmfusion. Always had problems. Tried parallels for the first time. I moved over 3 winxp machines over in 3 hours plus executed the winxp os better than the original machine. I even moved over a vista machine and use the aero. It is awesome. I immediate give up the effort in using vm fusion and will use parallels going forward. Parallels version 5 really leaves vm fusion 3 in the dust. Convert from vmfusion to parallels,,my two cents

  2. Hmm, you’re giving off a fanboi aura here.

    The stuff you’ve said Parallels installs looks like stuff that would be appreciated by the people who install the cruft that ends up on HP computers. I don’t want to see some daft little paper fold-down, like a crummy Flash advert – I’ll use Spaces or Expose, thanks. And I don’t want to sync my wallpapers. I’m running Windows because I have to work – if I was bumming around I wouldn’t need to be running virtualisation software.

    These kind of things ring alarm bells for me, as does the fact that Parallels 5 is being released shortly after VMWare 3. It feels like a manic catch-up effort to me, so it will be interesting to see how Parallels fares in the most important area, in which VMWare has always fared better in my experience – stability.

    1. I’ve also seen reports that Parallels uses much more RAM/CPU… I haven’t tested firsthand, so this could be wrong

  3. How is Parallels 5 ahead of VMWare Fusion 3 if it is still a 32bit app? VMWare Fusion already has 64bit code.

    1. Parallels has 32 bit frontend only. Buttons, menus and other stuff. Engine is 64 bit.

    2. Untrue. None of the Parallels 5 code is 64bit: http://forum.parallels.com/showthread.php?t=95790

  4. Unless you offer quantifiable benchmarks for both systems it’s hard to take your word for how much faster it is than Fusion. I switch from Parallels since version 2 and I’ve been extremely happy ever since.

    I run heavy applications like Visual Studio, SQL Server in Windows Server 2003 and I’m very happy with the performance of Fusion 3.

  5. I’ve been running P4 from the Bootcamp partition and did not see any significant difference when going to P5, so I did not bother with the upgrade.

    I’d be interested to see how others fair with P5+BootCamp versus the file-based virtual machine.

    P5 does fix a few minor glitches with Windows 7 and Leopard (10.5), but there are a few aesthetic features it lags Fusion on. Most notable is the menubar icon, which is really nice on Fusion.

    The biggest thing for me is that P4 and P5 do not require administrator passwords to launch bootcamp, but Fusion 2 and 3 do. This makes it much easer to have Parallels accessing your Bootcamp partition as part of your startup folder .

  6. I can’t quantify my perceived performance differences, as I didn’t run any tests, my opinion was formed after running my VM for my normal everyday job as a windows developer, I used VMWare Fusion for a few days and compared to Parallels 5 I found the UI responsiveness could get slow in Fusion. As I stated in the article, your milage may vary and since both products have free trial versions available I would recommend people to try out both to see which suits their needs best.

  7. Actually, I find it a bit disturbing that beta testers were out of the loop for months, and new features were added without (presumably) being tested by the beta testers? That’s a recipe for problems, isn’t it?

  8. Well… I upgraded from Parallels v4 to v5 and it crashed my Windows Virtual Machine (TWICE… both clean installs)

  9. I just upgraded to VMWare 3 and it’s almost unusable on my first-gen Mac Pro. I’ve tried tweaking the RAM settings, but no luck – it’s a dog.

  10. Guys he’s right about Fusion 3 being a dog. I too am a .Net developer using VS 2005/SQL/Resharper and Fusion 3 is fine upon initial boot up, but after several hours it slows down to a crawl (the same used to happen to me in Parallels 4 so that’s why I decided to try Fusion 3). I was finally about to pull the trigger on Fusion 3 since even though as bad as it was, it was better than Parallels 4, then Parallels 5 came out. It’s MUCH faster than Parallels 4 and Fusion 3. It feels a lot more like a native environment and hasn’t slowed down after all day of use. Take that for what it’s worth…


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