I had installed Parallels on my iMac back in early January but never got much beyond installing a copy of Windows Home Edition. That was build 1970 of Parallels 2.5. They released build 3188 back on March 7th. Since I had little invested in the current installation I figured I might as well upgrade. The worst case scenario was the time needed to re-install and potential Windows Activation issues if I did need to re-install. And if I ran out of time it could wait.
I downloaded the update by starting Parallels and selecting “Check for Updates” from the help menu. It told me that Version 2.5.3188 was available. I downloaded the 58 MB disk image file to my desktop. While the download was happening I headed to their site to find release notes for the download. Other than a generic “What’s New” page there wasn’t much information. A Google search brought me to their forum but the only related posting were complaining about the lack of release notes. Since I was at the forum I browsed through looking for any common issues. Some people had problems with “Parallel Tools” after upgrading or needed to re-activate windows, but I didn’t notice any other common issues. The download window already told me I’d have to re-install Parallel Tools and I was prepared to re-active windows.
Since I hadn’t used Parallels in so long (last started February 6th) I fired it up and started my one Windows VM just to make sure it still worked. It started fine and I shut it down.
I mounted the disk image and started the installer. It was straightforward, intro screen, accept the license, and so on. No actual decisions needed. The upgrade took about 5 minutes (although my Mac was busy doing some other copying and processing which I’m sure slowed it down.) After the upgrade finished I fired up Parallels.
Although I hadn’t used Parallels enough to become really familiar with it it was apparent that the VM configuration screen was much cleaner.
When I started the VM my Video resolution was back to 640 X 480. Right after logging on I received an popup message that the version of Parallels Tools was incompatible and I was advised to upgrade by selecting “Install Parallels Tools” from the “Action” menu, which I did. The Parallel Tools install worked fine but there were a couple of points where an errant mouse-click may have caused problems or annoyances. I was warned that some drivers were unsigned and asked if I wanted to suppress the warnings (which I did) or see them all. Then during the install Windows found new hardware (Video) and fired up the new hardware wizard. I declined the option to go to Windows Update to look for new drivers and canceled out of the wizard. When the Parallels Tools installer finished I was prompted to reboot (twice). The second one seemed to be from Windows due to the driver install while the first was clearly the Parallels Tools installer. I confirmed the reboot for both requests.
After the VM rebooted I received a Windows bubble message that my video driver resolution and depth was less than optimal so I set them. I just wanted a small screen to sit in the corner so I could monitor it, but it allowed a resolution up to the resolution I was using on my Mac. I noticed that the time was 6 hours fast. After verifying that the VM was set to sync from the host I noticed that the time zone was set to Helsinki, Sweden, so I set it to my time zone. Since I was there I told Windows not to sync with a time server over the internet since my Mac does that and the VM syncs with it.
I still had 12 Windows XP security updates (it had been awhile) to install but the upgrade was done. The entire upgrade took a leisurely 20 minutes or so, not including another 10 minutes looking for release notes.
I didn’t use Parallels enough to really get a sense of what was in my old version but these are some new features that caught my attention after the upgrade:
- Coherence mode – this was turned on by default so icons for running programs in my Windows VM show up in my Mac dock and switcher. The also show up in the “Processes” list for Pathfinder so it can be used for switching.
- Transporter – this isn’t so much a feature as a add-on utility. It allows moving Windows from a PC to a VM
- Time sync allows the setting of a differential between the VM and the host. Use this If you want a VM’s time to stay synced but always be 24 hours fast (for example). This was actually checked by default and at first I though it was the cause of the time discrepancy.
The upgrade was painless although I was no doubt helped by the fact that I had so little installed in my Windows VM. Just what comes with the OS, Firefox, Avast Antivirus and Windows Defender. In effect, this was a hardware upgrade for Windows. I’d have been more concerned (more time, more backups) if I had adittional software installed or if I used any hardware (printer/scanner/usb devices/etc…) other than what’s built into my Mac. The lack of release notes was annoying.
The only problem I had is that Quicksilver no longer wanted to open Parallels as it didn’t see it as an app. I had to delete it from the catalog and rescan applications.
Parallels has a $80 list price and is only for Intel based Macs.
Parallels Website: http://www.parallels.com
Parallels Desktop For Mac Support Forum: http://forum.parallels.com/forum53.html