Blog Post

Parallels Desktop 5 Released, Stays Ahead of VMWare


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.

51 Responses to “Parallels Desktop 5 Released, Stays Ahead of VMWare”

  1. Would love to believe these P5 enthousiasts, however, just installed clean Bootcamp Win XP Pro SP3 on brand new iMac 27′ Quad i5.

    Bootcamp standalone works fine, Fusion 3 trial works fine, P5 hangs during ‘virtual machine is being configured’ step 1/4. Even had “BLue Screen of Death” since I reinstalled P5 after successful install.

    Can’t even get support as I do not have support code for trial. My old P3 ran OK on MBPro, but doubt i will be upgrading – seems P5 are just not stable/robust but just rushed it out of door to react to new F3.

  2. Is there anywhere I can view a list of programs parallels 5 supports? Also how does it handle games, im not a massive gamer but there are a few i’d like to be able to play now i’ve made the switch to a mac.

  3. Emily Harris

    So, simply asked. I run v4 and have used it since it came out on a MacBook Pro now almost 2 years old. It works fine; actually I think MS office might work better.
    SO, I am not going to get Windows 7, should I upgrade? (I use Windows for printing and for mostly for quicken)

    I love advice thanks

  4. ParallelsConvert


    Fusion 3 does not support the switching of graphics cards on MacBook Pros.

    Try going from Higher Performance to Better Battery life for a Windows 7 installation on Fusion 3.

    Your Internet will not work, and you will have to reinstall Fusion 3 completely. Try it any way you want. Troubleshoot it any way you want. It does not work.

    Good job Parallels! You have won me over!

  5. I’d avoid Parallels – their upgrade policy stinks. Having purchased a licence code for v4 only 6 weeks ago I am now expected to pay again to upgrade to v5. Any I cannot even do it online as the upgrade needs their customer services to “review your case” by hand as they are busy.

    The company is a disaster so whatever the merits of the product, there are decent alternatives.

    From my experiences with Parallels (company) I would not hand over any (more) of my money to them.

    • Bayareabryan

      The upgrade WILL NOT cost only $9.95. They tell you that in an email. Then they offer the trial version. It wipes out the version 4.0 on your system. Then you get an email after they have reviewed your case telling you that you are not in fact eligible. Now you are stuck with a trial about to expire or pay more for the upgrade or try to uninstall and reinstall from your original disk. All bad options and not what was promised. By the way I purchased September 27, 3 days before a free upgrade. I will never give this company any more money regardless of the performance. To do so would reward their FRAUDULENT business practices.

  6. I initially bought VMware Fusion 3 and was going to stick to it like Fusion 2. Spent 2 weeks using it everyday solid Windows 7 ultimate, 1.6GB RAM assigned, dual CPU on my unibody MBP 17″ 4GB RAM on SL 10.6.2 (while writting this). The aero feature is plain broken in coherence mode and looks crap and for me the biggest miss no side-ways scrolling support…let alone gestures. VMware also crashed on me few times and from sleep is hit/miss.
    Read the Paralles 5 articles on the net and decided to buy a copy after reading the gesture support…which can only mean is MUST have sideways scrolling…I can confirm it does. If you are a MS Visio user you know what this means…u can actually use ur mouse pad thing like it was suppose to be used. Parallels for is simply faster and more blended into the OSX world than VMware…crystal mode is just plain awesome and with the MAC-like theme it becomes even better. In my opinion Parallels is just a better product made for Mac users…VMware is simply average at running Win7 whereas P5 is as good as it gets at the moment. Note…not a gamer but Parallels is scoring much higher in the WEI scores with the all important aero/gpu area scoring 7.1. Note that I converted my VM from VMware to P5 (uninstall VMware tools before u do this…u will thank me for this;-)

  7. Have used F3 but tried p5 lately, and i have to say very comparative settings, the p5 is quicker for me on MacBook Pro 2.4 w/4gb ram. Does anyone know if in the device manager for the processors (2 in my case) that “A driver (service) for this device has been disabled. An alternate driver may be providing this functionality. (Code 32)” is stated? I would think this may be normal on a virtual machine but not sure. Everything seems to work fine.

  8. There’s more than performance to consider… try talking to a human being to ask a simple question. Go ahead, anything… Parallels sells their software through a vendor, who doesn’t support licensing issues. The actual product support is out of Europe somewhere (Germany?) and you have to drop $20 dollars to talk to a human (your ‘free’ 30 days support does not include phone support.

    As for me, I followed the link on Parallels website to upgrade from Fusion. They took my money and gave me an upgrade key that requires an original Parallels key. Yes, that’s right, I dropped $50 for something that doesn’t work and can’t get support for it.

    I’ll use VMWare from now on, even if it’s half as good as Parallels. Who gives a [email protected] about functionality if support is horrendous?

  9. William F.

    I’ve been using Fusion since Beta1, Parallels since Version 3. Now, Parallels 3 was beter than Fusion1 for my developent load, and Parallels 4 was about the same as Fusion 2. I preferred Fusion 2 because it seemed faster on occasion with multiple apps open. Now, I’ve tried Parallels 5 and it Rocks it not only “Feels Fast”, it is Fast. I have had no issues importing Fusion VM or Parallels 4 VMs. Although I’m not a fan of “Eye Candy” and If I could remove those effects from Mac, I’d love my Mac more, I think Parallels not only Runs Great, but Looks Great as well. (I always turn off all EyeCandy in Windows). Anyway, I’m currently testing Fusion 3 Trial. I can not comment much about it at this time, but so far it’s lagging behing Parallels 5. Also, so you know, I’m a certified Microsoft Developer with a MSDN subscription. So, I have the ability to test all MS OS’s in VM’s.

    • DistortedLoop

      It’s extremely easy with both VMW or Parallels.

      Get the trial program, get a Windows (or any other OS) install disk or image, click a few questions and pretty soon you’ve got a second OS operating within an actual “window” on your Mac. Really cool if you need such a thing.

  10. Parallels 5 is definitely a lot faster than VMware 3. One striking difference is the amount of physical RAM each one uses. For a Windows 7 VM with 768M RAM allocated, VMware uses about 1GB of physical RAM, while Parallels uses around 632M.

    As a result, VMware slows down my 4GB MacBook Pro so badly it’s unusable. Parallels doesn’t slow down the rest of my machine.

    • DistortedLoop

      I’ve got a 4gb MacBook Pro (late 2009 model) and I run WinXP in VMWare 3 on it. It uses just 425mb of memory for the actual VM, and only 35mb for the actual VMW application. I don’t notice any slowdown at all, but I do have SSD vs spinning Harddrive, so maybe if there is swapping I just don’t notice it.

      I’ve made a Win7 vm for fun with the trial key, but with only running two apps in Windows (Quicken and FirstBeat Athlete), I’m not sure actually moving stuff over to Win7 is worth the effort long term.

  11. I keep hearing people say, “try them both to see what works best”. How can you try them both with the same copy of W7 if you don’t have volume licenses and want to import one vm to another? Any advice? I run f3 but am curious to see how p5 would work out with my machine…….

  12. 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…

  13. DistortedLoop

    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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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 .

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    • 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