For many years, Parallels Desktop® for Mac has made Windows even more usable for Mac users by bringing cool Mac features over to Windows. Some notable examples have been Mac gesture support in Windows applications (in Parallels Desktop 7) and Retina™ display support for Windows (in Parallels Desktop 8). In 2015, for the first time there was a feature in Windows “cool enough” to bring over to the Mac: Cortana in Windows 10. We added Cortana support to Parallels Desktop 11. In 2016, we brought Ink from Windows 10 over to the Mac (with the help of an Apple Pencil® and iPad®.)
Microsoft is on a real winning streak with Windows 10. This year, there is yet another cool feature to bring over to the Mac: the People Bar. We’ve added support for this to Parallels Desktop 13.
If you haven’t seen or heard about the People Bar, that may be because it hasn’t yet been released by Microsoft. It will be part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which will be released on October 17.
Microsoft began talking about the People Bar about a year ago (see Figure 1) and has released early beta builds to the Windows Insiders in early 2017. Basically, the People Bar enables the Windows 10 user to add people to the Taskbar in Windows, making it very easy to initiate a Skype call or send email to them. There are probably some people you interact with more often than you launch some of the applications in the Taskbar; why not add those people to the Taskbar?
Several of us at Parallels are Windows Insiders, and when we first saw the People Bar, we began thinking about how to bring it to Mac. Parallels Desktop 13 has support for the People Bar, and in this blog post I will show you its People Bar integration.
Figure 2 shows the use of the People Bar in a recent Windows Insider build (build 16251 to be exact). In this figure, you can see three people in the Taskbar, and the contact card which is displayed when you click on one of these people. (It is rather entertaining to click on a colleague’s face in the People Bar, and even more fun to delete them, but that is another story.)
Figure 3 shows part of the Mac integration with People Bar—we put larger icons into the Mac Dock to more easily show people. Of course, clicking on the Dock icons displays the same contact card in Windows 10, and it works when Windows 10 is in Coherence mode, the most popular way to view Windows by Parallels Desktop users (see Figure 4).
You add people to the People Bar by selecting them from your contacts list. (In Insider Preview builds, this is from your contacts in Mail, the email client included in Windows 10. Presumably, in the release of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, this will also be possible from your list of contacts in Outlook or Exchange.)
However, look what happens when you add four or more people to the People Bar, as seen in Figure 5. Only the first three appear in the Windows Taskbar, since there are only three “slots” for people there. (It is not yet known if this limitation will be present in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.) However, we know that Mac users have a lot more than three frequent contacts, so with Parallels Desktop 13, all the people you try to add to the People Bar in Windows show up in the Mac Dock. In fact, you can add lots of people to the Mac Dock (see figure 6).
When you install the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update in a Parallels Desktop VM, try out the People Bar integration with Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac (download a free 14-day trial) and let us know in the comments how you like it.