Parallels LogoI’ve taken Parallels for a test spin and I’m very impressed. VirtualPC was the best emulator around years ago and it still never worked very good. Now, with Parallels, you can run Windows (3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, Me, 2000, NT, XP, 2003), any Linux distribution, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, eComStation, or MS-DOS while running OS X.

I installed and ran Windows 98 as it’s the only thing I had lying around. The install process was pretty simple and took forever. The long install is thanks to Microsoft though, not an issue with Parallels. Once installed, the speed that Windows 98 ran was extremely impressive! No delays when you try to open a folder. No ‘this blows’ attitude like I had with VirtualPC. It was smooth, fast and ran quite good.

Now why did I install Windows?? A few reasons.
1) Because I could.
2) Because I want to see how my themes, extensions and websites look on a PC.
3) Because I bought my wife some PopCap games for Christmas and they are PC only. Now that her PC is dead, we need some way to play them.

Now I can’t say I have no issues with Parallels, but this is still a preview release.

First I had no sound. Some say if I reinstall the OS I’ll somehow get sound back. I think I’ll wait until the final version comes out before I try that since Windows 98 takes FOREVER to install.

I also tried and tried to get good color and a nice screen resolution. It turns out that there is a menu option that says “Install Parallels Tools…” I’m not sure why it’s an optional, and non-obvious, option as it installs display and sound drivers so that it works great with your Mac. Once installed I could get my colors to be millions, screen to be 1024×768 and it was wonderful. If these tools aren’t installed, this software will seem lame.

I also have odd issues with the internet. It doesn’t seem to pickup my wireless unless I first plug in the internet via an ethernet cable. Then the intenet works fine. Unplug that cable and then the wireless works fine too. Again, it’s still in preview mode so that’s a minor bug I can live with.

To me, this is better than Apple’s Bootcamp. I don’t see the value of shutting down one OS just to run another. If I want to use any PC applications ,or check a design, I don’t want to have to quit and restart.

For $39 (early bird special, normally $49) this is an amazing piece of software. It runs Windows 98 extremely well for me and I want to install Linux (any suggestions on which flavor) too when I find time. I’ve already sent Parallels my money, so I’ll have plenty of time to play.

I’m running Parallels RC1 on an iMac 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo with 512 Memory.