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Parallels Desktop 8.0 launched, adds full Mountain Lion support, performance enhancements

04 September 2012, Nick Peers

Parallels Holdings Ltd has announced the launch of the latest version of its Mac virtualization tool, Parallels Desktop 8.0.18100. Parallels allows Mac  users to run a variety of operating systems – including Linux and Windows – in a virtual environment, while integrating non-OS X applications into the Mac interface.

Version 8 extends support to both Mountain Lion and Windows 8, plus takes advantage of new technologies such as Retina displays, allowing Windows to run in a high-resolution environment.

The big update to Parallels comes with full support for Mountain Lion, including full-screen support for Windows applications, use of Launchpad for Windows apps and the ability to run Mountain Lion as a guest OS, plus Notification Center support for both Parallels itself and Windows desktop alerts. The update also talks about full Retina display support for Windows, but this was introduced in a previous update for Parallels Desktop 7.

Run just about any iteration of Windows or OS X in Parallels Desktop 8.

There’s a new Presentation Wizard, designed for demoing presentations on  an external monitor or projector, plus an option for switching from Safari to the same page in Internet Explorer with a single click.

Parallels Desktop 8 also supports using the new Mountain Lion Dictation feature in Windows apps, plus you can now drag and drop attachments to the Windows Outlook dock icon for attaching them in a new mail.

Also new are multi-language keyboard sync, shared Bluetooth and Trash, better OS X Guest support, plus improved integration with Mission Control and Spaces. 3D graphics support is improved, with up to 1GB RAM now available for assigning to a virtual machine.

Other performance improvements are claimed faster boot and pause/resume times for virtual machines (up to 25%), plus I/O operations and games run up to 30% quicker than in version 7. Parallels 8 also promises longer battery life, enhanced snapshots and virtual machine management tools for managing VM demands.

Full Windows 8 support hasn’t yet been implemented – it’s promised in a future update after its final release – but enhancements should include full multi-touch support on compatible displays and the ability to download Windows 8 direct from the Parallels Wizard.

Parallels Desktop 8.0.18100 is available as a free trial download for Macs running OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or later with a Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM (4GB recommended) and up to 15GB free hard drive space for Windows in addition to the program’s own 700MB requirements. The full version retails for $79.99 – upgrades are available for Parallels 6/7 users for $49.99.

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