Parallels Desktop 17 For Mac: Ready For The MacOS Catalina (10.15) With Over 30 New Features
The latest version of the Parallels Desktop for Mac is here and Mac users have so much to cheer for. Windows desktop users find it difficult to switch over to Mac and even Mac users sometimes feel the need for certain Windows applications which are not available on their Mac computers. The Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac have answered all your prayers. Parallels Desktop for Mac is the most trusted desktop virtualization software for well over a decade and they are out with an improved version which is ready for the yet to be officially released macOS 10.15 Catalina. With brand new tricks up its deceptively long sleeves, Parallels Desktop is here to keep the mantle of best desktop virtualization software for a long time to come. So let’s have a look at what the new version brings to the table.
- Faster and more efficient with more than thirty new features
- Ready for macOS Catalina (10.15)
- Apple Pencil and Sidecar support
- DirectX 11 graphics support
- DirectX via Apple Metal API
- Drag and drop files
- 24/7 premium customer support for Pro and Business editions
- Virtual RAM for each VM is still 128GB
- Centralized Administration and Management available only for the Business Edition
- Only 4vCPUs for each VM in Standard Edition. 32vCPU per VM for both Pro and Business Editions
A lot!! More than thirty new features have been added to the brand new version which I must say is a bold improvement from the previous version 14. Parallels Desktop 14 for Mac introduced the much anticipated Dark Mode when it released. In keeping with the tradition of introducing a head-turning feature with each new version, the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac boasts of support for DirectX 11 and that is a massive addition. The previous versions supported only DirectX 10 but the new version 17 can seamlessly run the games that you have been dying to play. DirectX 11 makes running graphic-intensive games, such as FIFA 19, Age of Empires, Crysis 3, Fallout, and the likes look like child’s play. It also supports graphics-heavy CAD/CAM applications like Autodesk Revit 2020, Autodesk 3ds Max 2020, Lumion and ArcGIS Pro just to name a few. Parallels Desktop 17 also supports previous versions of DirectX- DirectX 9 and DirectX 10. To make things better the new software supports DirectX via Apple Metal API (application programming interface) for the first time rather than OpenGL which was employed in previous versions.
Parallels Desktop 17 vs 16 Key Differences
choose your plan
Speed of launching apps
Application Programming Interface
Bluetooth device compatibility
OS compatibility Linux
Parallels Desktop 15 for MAC
80% faster than version 14
Supports more Bluetooth devices including Thunderbolt and FireWire devices like Xbox One controller, Logitech Craft keyboard, and IRIS Pen
Nested virtualization for a wide variety of Linux. Virtio GPU present
Parallels Desktop 14 for MAC
35% faster than version 13
Supports USB, USB-C devices.
Connect stylus pens and printers
Virtio GPU absent. Support for a lesser variety of Linux
- Right off the bat, Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac brings with it a host of new features and tools which are major upgrades both in performance and usability when compared with its predecessor Parallels Desktop 14 for Mac. The latest version 17 supports DirectX 11, as well as DirectX 9 and 10, via Metal API. Version 14 used to support only DirectX 9 and 10 that too via OpenGL. Metal, developed by Apple Inc, is a much better API compared to OpenGL. The jump to DirectX 11 in the new version lets you play high-graphics games or use graphics-based apps without the hassle faced in earlier versions.
- Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac also boasts faster boot time compared to its predecessor. Apps, especially Microsoft Office apps, launch 80 percent quicker and 3D games run 15 percent more smoothly thanks to improved graphics. The Parallels Desktop UI is now faster, more responsive and more intuitive than ever before. Version 17 will now support the latest macOS Catalina after it is officially released this autumn. Version 14 supported macOS Mojave.
- Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac takes it up a notch by providing support for the very useful Apple Pencil which was missing in previous versions. The Apple Pencil is integrated to work with Windows applications with eraser support. Sidecar, which lets you increase the interface by using an iPad as a second display, is another amazing addition to the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac.Drag and drop is a utility feature which comes with the new version and makes our life easier. Even Virtual Machines can be created via drag and drop. Dragging images from Safari, Photos, or other Mac apps is now possible in the new version. Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac makes using screenshot previews in Windows applications possible even though Apple changed screenshot settings in Mojave and Catalina.
- Automatic Disk usage optimization frees up more space than ever before. Thunderbolt and FireWire devices can now connect with Windows thus enabling you to play Xbox games on Windows. Bluetooth devices such as the Xbox One controller and the stylus pen can now be paired with both Windows and macOS. Mac integration lets you send files from Finder by using a Windows email app. Virtio GPU is another new feature in the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac which lets you use a sliding mouse and multimonitor support without even using Parallels Tools.
Windows on your touch bar
The Parallels Desktop 17 helps to integrate Windows applications into the Mac touch bar and also use touch bar within any Windows application. That is one neat trick. The Mac touch bar can now integrate Microsoft applications like Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. It does not stop there as the touch bar also integrates Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Furthermore, the touch bar accommodates Windows Start menu and Desktop along with Cortana and pinned files.
A touch bar wizard lets you customize your touch bar as per your whim. Add any and every Windows applications that you may use to the touch bar and make the best of both worlds. The upcoming People Bar from Windows 10, which allows the user to pin contacts to the taskbar, is also made available to this software’s users. Enhanced retina support ensures that the user gets the best possible visual experience.
Installation and Ease of Use
You can now send files from macOS using a Windows email application with just a couple of clicks thanks to Parallels Desktop 17’s support for emailing files from Finder. Use Windows along with macOS without having to restart on your MacBook Pro, MacBook, iMac Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and even Mac mini. Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac provides the ultimate flexibility since it works with OS X, Windows 10, 8.1, and 7, Linux, Unix, and macOS Server. The setup is as easy as it gets and the software is very intuitive. It will automatically detect whether you need to download Windows or choose your existing Windows, Linux or Ubuntu installation. Graphics hungry Windows applications run without a hitch and with the auto Disk Space optimization you can now save loads of disk space. You can now drag and drop files from macOS to Window screen.
Choose the view that suits your style. You can hide the Windows screen in Coherence Mode and still launch and use Windows Applications from your macOS dock. Office integration allows Word, PowerPoint, or Excel documents in Safari to open in their native Windows app. If you are shifting to Mac from Windows PC then you may prefer the Windows screen to the Mac screen. You can set the Windows screen to occupy the entire screen of your computer. Whatever be your choice you can easily swipe between the Windows and the macOS screen with a simple three-finger swipe gesture on the touchpad. Adding Windows applications to Touch Bar for instant access and easy customization is also an option. With Parallels Access you can now remotely access your Mac from any iOS or Android Device.
Apple Pencil and Sidecar Support
Apple Pencil and Sidecar support are much-awaited additions to the previous versions. Windows applications now support the use of Apple Pencil with added tilt and eraser support. You can use your iPad as a second display to extend your Windows applications thanks to Sidecar. Additional support for Bluetooth devices allows you to connect Xbox One Controller, IRISPen, Logitech Craft Keyboard, some smart home apps and smart bands, and much more. You can even play an Xbox game in a Windows 10 virtual machine. Virtual machines support a wide variety of Linux distributions. Parallels Desktop 17 lets you use a sliding mouse, dynamic resolution, and multimonitor support out of the box.
Unity and Coherence
People usually prefer to switch between Windows and Mac apps, Parallels uses the options Unity and Coherence respectively to handle the switching. When these modes are enabled, it lets the user feel that they are using a single operating system, since it facilitate each Windows application get its own window. The basic working of these modes is same, except the ways that each program handles the task. These modes not only lets you copy, drag, paste or drop, but also lets you share your folders and apps.
The latest Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac shows much better performance and does so with increased efficiency. It can launch Microsoft Office 80 percent faster and run 3D graphics 15 percent more accurately. Version 17 is ready for the macOS Catalina which is still in beta. Support for additional Catalina features is still in development and will be ready by the time Catalina is released to the public in fall 2019. You will get the updates to macOS Catalina when you purchase or upgrade to the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac. Till then the new version will continue to support Mojave 10.14, High Sierra 10.13, and Sierra 10.12 but I will advise you to upgrade to macOS Catalina once it comes out so as to fully experience the performance of DirectX 11.
Parallels Desktop have scored good results in the tests, and in some tests VMware Fusion had a narrow win. One of the outstanding feature that can improve the performance is the One-click tuning feature of Parallels Desktop 17. It allows the user to optimize the virtual machine setting and performance to match your requirements.
I may recommend you to watch this live side-by-side performance comparison review so that you no longer have any doubts who is faster Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion
What is the Overall User Impression?
To better understand the public sentiment regarding the latest version of Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac, I visited a fair number of tech forums and tech communities. The overall public reaction is very positive considering how critical members of such forums generally are about new software releases. The first impression of the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is great thanks mainly to the DirectX 11 support as well as the first time use of Apple Metal API. The fact that it is ready for the latest macOS Catalina is an added bonus. According to most users, the DirectX 11 support via Metal API is a huge draw along with added support for Apple Pencil and Sidecar. Users on the forums also praised the visibly improved performance in launching Windows applications and running graphic-intensive games or apps.
However, the fact that the new version 17 has not increased the number of either Virtual RAM or Virtual CPU per VM from the previous version 14 is a bone of contention for a handful of users. Barring these users, there was also some concern about Pro and Business Editions requiring annual subscriptions. Other than these two concerns the vibe on the forums I visited was largely positive and optimistic.
Parallels Desktop vs VMware Fusion Comparison
choose your plan
Single-click download of
Ubuntu, Chromium OS, Fedora,
Debian and CentOS
Windows applications included
Supports DirectX 11
Real-time disc optimization
Support Jenkins, Docker, and
Chef (Only available in Business
& Pro Editions)
Application Programming Interface
Virtual RAM per VM
Cortana integration and support
Disk space optimization
Parallels Desktop 16 for MAC
macOS Catalina 10.15
Upto 8GB vRAM
One license per VM
Yes. Active wizard frees up disk space so that files take up less space
VMware Fusion 12
macOS Mojave 10.14
OpenGL 3.3 and Fusion Rest API
Upto 3GB vRAM
Unlimited VMs per license
Limited. Files take up more space
The only way to run Windows on your Mac device without having to restart the device or rebooting into the other OS is to use either the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac or the VMware Fusion. Now VMware Fusion is a very popular and effective virtualization software which competes directly with the Parallels Desktop 17. Your preference depends on your requirements and your personal choices as both are quite capable of accomplishing what they are supposed to do albeit a few key differences which we will be looking into.
First and foremost the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is much faster at startup and quicker in syncing Windows with the Mac interface than the VMware Fusion. VMware Fusion lacks an intuitive disk space optimization wizard and thus uses up more disk space than is actually necessary. On the other hand, Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac’s intuitive wizard helps you to understand and manage your disk space better. Thus files which may use 50GB in the VMware interface will only use about 35 GB in Parallels Desktop 17 interface.
Performance on the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is smoother and faster than VMware Fusion thanks largely to the fact that it supports DirectX 11 via Metal API. VMware Fusion still supports the older DirectX 10.1 via OpenGL API. The difference in performance is noticeable especially while playing graphics oriented games. Parallels Desktop 17 provides at least 8GB vRAM per VM on its standard editions while VMware Fusion provides only 3GB vRAM per VM. Pro and Business editions of Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac provides 128GB vRAM per VM which explains the better efficiency of Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac than VMware Fusion.
The VMware Fusion supports macOS Mojave 10.14 and is not ready for the soon to be revealed macOS Catalina. This puts Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac firmly at the top as it will support the latest macOS Catalina as and when released to the public.
VMware is only ahead in terms of stability and proper customer support. Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is more of a flamboyant performer with several tricks up its sleeves which the VMware Fusion lacks. If you do not require high-end features and tools then VMware Fusion should be your choice since it promises a simple yet stable service. The email support of Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is nothing to brag about unless you opt for the Business support in which case you get premium support. That being said, Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is an all-out performer which takes Windows experience on Mac devices to a whole new level- a level which VMware Fusion is highly unlikely to reach any time soon.
# Here is a complete Parallels Desktop vs VMware Fusion features comparison from Parallels.
- Another way to run Windows on your Mac is by Virtual Box or VMware Fusion. Virtual Box was the only way to create a virtual machine back when VMware and Parallels were a work in progress. The original nerd, the Virtual Box, however, lacked the many fancy features that the other, newer software provides. VMware and Parallels Desktop are somewhat similar albeit a few differences between them not including their price.
- Both of them come at the same price of $79.99 but while VMware is for unlimited Macs, Parallels is for one Mac only. While VMware targets offices and institutions, the Parallels Desktop, on the other hand, is solely made to serve any user looking to use windows on their Mac. Let us take a look at what these two similar products have to offer. Although Virtual Box is absolutely free, it doesn’t compare with the other two.
- Both these software gives you access to all the window modes, to Cortana and also supports DirectX 11. Minor differences include OS X’s quick look windows feature supported by Parallels Desktop but not by VMware Fusion. Coming to performance it all comes down to the user. If you are going for looks then VMware takes the prize as it outperforms Parallels in the visual graphics sector. But when it comes to performance, Parallels is miles ahead of VMware.
- Parallels Desktop boots, transfers or copies files faster than VMware. It also saves a whole lot of battery life. If you don’t need to install Windows on more than one Mac then Parallels Desktop should be your choice over Vmware Fusion. But if you are looking to play games and good 3D graphics is what you want then VMware Fusion is the one for you. So it’s really a matter of brains over brawn, of usefulness over looks and what you, the user, needs. Here’s taking a look at the key differences.
Should You Buy Parallels Desktop 17 for MAC?
If you are looking for the best desktop virtualization software for your Mac computer then the Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac is the thing to buy. It offers the latest features along with DirectX11 support for as low as $79.99. If you already have a licensed Parallels Desktop for Mac, as I did, then you can upgrade for a discounted $49.99. Both the Pro and the Business Editions cost $99.99 per year so choose from those as per your requirements. The features and efficient performance of the new Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac speak for themselves and you need to use it to believe it. You can even try out a free 14-day trial version to make up your mind but I can vouch that you won’t regret the investment.
- Ease of use
- Customer support
- 1 license for 1 MAC