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Good news today for those of you who want to try out Microsoft’s latest attempt at an operating system without leaving the comfort of your Mac. A recent update to Mac virtualization program Parallels Desktop 4.0 (4.0.3810) introduces experimental support for Windows 7. Apple faithful will also note that the new update additionally brings support for Snow Leopard as both primary and guest operating system.
You may remember that in comparing Parallels to VMware Fusion 2.0, we favored the latter fairly decisively. This doesn’t change my own opinion, but developers and others looking specifically to be able to run as many different types of virtual environments as possible might disagree.
The update contains a long list of improvements, of which new OS support is only a small part. Other new features include support for Apple remote disks, a silent start mode for Coherence, and direct dragging of Windows files to Mac apps in the Dock. Parallels also now claims increased battery life on portable Macs, owing to improvements in CPU usage. Finally, a number of speed-oriented improvements were also introduced, including DirextX 9.0 with Shaders Model 2 support, Intel SSE4 support for better media playback, and faster suspend and resume of virtual machines.
Note that VMware Fusion 2.0 does not yet support either Microsoft’s Windows 7 or Apple’s Snow Leopard, which are both still in closed developer beta. Look for support from Fusion soon, though, now that the gauntlet has been thrown by Paralells. Parallels is available for $79.99, or $49.99 if you’re upgrading from an existing version.