Parallels Desktop for Mac 1.0
Parallels Desktop (PD) is very definitely for folk who want to use another operating system on a casual basis. It's benefit of fast access to the guest OS is balanced by reduced performance and limited hardware support. It's not a tool to use if you're a gamer, say, but rather for dipping into that legacy accounting package you're still using after all these years.
That's not to demean PD - getting multiple operating system to operate alongside each other simultaneously remains an impressive technological feat, and Parallels' software is both ingenious and amazingly cheap. PD manages the trick of mediating between guest operating systems, Mac OS X and the hardware they're all running on. The host OS believes its operating alone; the guests each assume they're the only show in town; PD is the magician behind the curtain making it all work seamlessly.
Installation is remarkably straightforward - particularly in comparison with BootCamp. PD itself is installed in the usual Mac OS X manner. Running it invites you to set up a Virtual Machine - the ersatz PC on which any variety of Windows, of Linux or of a number of other operating systems will be fooled into thinking they own. There's no need to re-partition your hard drive - PD creates .hdd files and ties them into each VM as if they were physical, separate hard disks.
PD places the .hdd files in your own Library folder. You can move them, but you'll need to let PD know explicitly - it can't resolve aliases, for example. But even so, it's easy to move the .hdd file off onto an external drive if you don't have enough space on your main hard drive. PD ships with an integrated disk compression tool that runs in Windows to defragment the virtual hard drive, clean out unneeded temporary files and so on. Parallels also supplies a separate utility for creating and modifying hard drive and optical disc images.
Sharing of Files?
Something I've been wondering for a while.. is it possible to share files (eg: Outlook mailbox, my documents, favourites, etc) across both operating systems?
What are the issues around such sharing of content? compatibility problems?
Being new to Mac, I dont know how shareable content is with Windows machines, and this is definitely somethign that is important to me should i make the switch to Mac (somethign i'm seriously considering now that i can still use Windows for development work.. i dont think you can get MS Visual Studio for Mac... or can u?)
Missing the Point
I really don't think the author of this article really understands the power of Parallels. As an IT specialist I routinely run multiple virtual machines simultaneously on my MacBook Pro. I've simulated/built LANs, compiled applications and tested on indiviual virtual machines or in groups of up to 4 simultaneously.
Yes host only networking is the default, but multiple host only machines can talk to each other when hosted on the same physical hardware. This is incredibly useful. I run a workstation dedicated to windows for things at work that OSX can't yet do, like run old crappy dos and win32 applications from the network (Darwine and Crossover are up and coming, but not there yet for me), and that one is set to "bridged". With bridged networking, the virtual machine appears to the outside as its own unique computer. And, yes, mulitple bridged machines can be run on the same physical hardware, visible to each other and the world.
As for boot camp, give me a UNIX kernel like OSX and parallels on top of it instead, for everything, anyday, always. The ONLY time I can foresee a need for bootcamp is for games, when 3D matters, and when a port isn't available yet for OSX natively. Given time, I see 3D added to Parallels as well. For now, the few games I care to play have been ported to OSX already. Ditto on high end graphics and video products.
As far as performance goes, think snappy. It is "near native", nothing at all like the Virtual PC days. The fact that the author discounts due to the fact 3D video isn't available has missed the boat entirely in my opinion. These macintel machines offer the best of everything when configured with Parallels desktop and sufficient RAM, and they are reasonably priced as well for the flexibility, performance, and security you get. I've stopped using my other PCs, Linux, BSD, and XP. I have access to as many as I want for free. The experience is that good.
Repair disk permissions
Quote from the article: "Reports from folk who've tried it already suggest that it's a good idea to verify your hard drive and repair file-access permissions before running BootCamp."
Of course they did. It's part of the Mac Voodoo, that. Anyone who wants to appear knowledgeable but has no clear idea of what they're talking about will recommend one or more of: repair permissions; clearing PRAM; installing software updaters via the combo rather than incremental package. It certainly wouldn't help in this situation and almost never does at any other time, but it's part and parcel of The Mac Experience ;-)