3 Parallels Workstation 2.2 Release Candidate

Today’s a 2-for-1 day. Earlier this morning we released a new build for Parallels Desktop, and now we’re releasing the Release Candidate for Parallels Workstation 2.2 for Windows & Linux!

2.2 RC has a number of improvements, the most notable of which are stronger support for Intel Virtualization Technology and AMD Secure Virtual Machine Technology (both of which drive great performance and stability – see my recent blog post on the subject for more info), and the addition of Microsoft Windows Vista as a guest OS. You can check out the full list of new features here.

The addition of Vista is a really great feature for our Windows and Linux users, since they now have the ability to test Vista and play with configurations without having to sacrifice an entire production machine.

As with all updates, you won’t need to reinstall your guest OSes, nor will you lose any saved data. You should, however, reinstall Parallels tools after updating your Parallels Workstation build.

31 New build for Mac Pro available now

Just a few minutes ago our developers posted a new build (1898) for Desktop for Mac that substantially improves Mac Pro and 64-bit iMac performance and eliminates kernel panics and major bugs.

For those users who have Mac Pros and 64-bit iMacs with more than 2GB of RAM, you’ve had to manually limit your RAM via the instructions I laid out in my “Q&A about the Update RC” post. In this build, we’ve included a tool that will help you take this action without any command line coding. With a single click you can limit your RAM and make your Mac Pro fully compatible with this build. You can easily revert your memory back at any time to the full configuration with the same tool.

Its very important to note that limiting your RAM configuration to run Parallels Desktop will NOT prevent you from running any other OS X application (although they may run slightly slower). It simply helps our hypervisor “play nice” with the Mac Pro.

This build also adds support for Windows Vista RC1 as a guest OS, and adds an improved Parallels Tools package for all of the Vista builds that improves mouse movement, and video resolutions, and beefs up networking. I highly recommend you install it if you’re running Vista!

Originally, I told you that we’d have full PAE support by year’s end. Now, I’m pleased to let you know that we are working on a new RC version that will be compatible with ANY Intel-Mac with ANY amount of RAM, and will have it much sooner than originally anticipated. The engineering team tells me that this build should be available in a week or two.

Thank you again to all of our loyal Desktop users and beta testers. Everyone here appreciates your feedback and your patience.

If you recently purchased Desktop from a retail store, be sure to upgrade to the new build before you install any operating system on your computer. This will ensure that you’ve got a build that works with whatever Mac you’re using.

0 Parallels in NYC on Wednesday

For those of you in New York, I’ll be presenting at the SoHo Apple Store on Wednesday, September 20th from 6:30 – 7:30pm. This is a good opportunity for new and experienced Parallels users to ask questions about the product and learn more about the technology that powers it.

If you’re an Apple Store employee or business consultant, I’ll be at the SoHo store for about 2 hours prior to the presentation for employee training. Call the SoHo store to reserve a spot…they’re going fast.

3 “Ask Ben Anything” starts next week

Starting next Friday, I’ll be writing a weekly post called “Ask Ben Anything”, in which I’ll select a few (i.e., 3-5) of the dozens of weekly questions and comments I get about about Parallels products, virtualization, OSes, hardware, and technology in general. I’ll post the questions and my answers, along with any reference materials or media features I can find that help explain the technology or concept in question.

Of course, I will continue to write back as often as I can in the comments sections of each post, so keep those questions and comments coming!

I borrowed this concept from my friend Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, who writes a weekly Q&A column called “Mossberg’s Mailbox”. The column is published every Thursday in the print edition of the Journal, and is also available online at Walt’s Personal Technology website. As with all of Walt’s stuff, its good reading if you’re looking for practical, real-world tech advice. Check it out.

Me and Walt. Two guys who dig technology and have weekly Q&A columns.

2 “Superior” has a nice ring to it

Be sure to check out the October edition of PC World Magazine for an excellent, objective review of Parallels Desktop for Mac. Narasu Rebbapragada, PC World’s Senior Review Editor, took a whack at Desktop and gave us an almost unheard of score of 90/100, earning us a “Superior” ranking.

Desktop received the highest score of the issue and one of the highest scores given to any software or hardware product reviewed by PC World this year. This is doubly impressive considering that this is from the leading PC magazine (with more than 5 million readers monthly), and NOT from a Mac-focused magazine!

Pick up your copy at any news stand (I got mine at Barnes & Noble), or read the full review online at

1 A quick fix from the QA team

If you updated your build and tried to launch Parallels Desktop from the original shortcut icon your placed in your dock or on the desktop, you will not be able to load Parallels Desktop properly.

You MUST either run this beta build of Parallels Desktop directly from your Applications folder, or delete the original shortcut on your desktop/dock and replace it with the newer one that appeared in the Parallels Application Folder. Parallels Desktop is located at Macintosh HD -> Applications -> Parallels -> Parallels Desktop.

Keep that feedback coming to, the forum, and the online support form; I’ll have more updates for you soon.

7 Q&A about the Update RC build

Lots of readers have emailed me questions about the Desktop Update RC, (mainly about RAM and Mac Pro support), so I decided to answer them here, rather than do so in the comments sections. I hope this helps clear things up about Mac Pro support!

  • Why did you announce that Parallels Desktop is compatible with Mac Pros outfitted with only up to 4GB of RAM?

This is an issue related to Physical Address Extension mode, which, as defined by Wikipedia, “allows for up to 64 gigabytes of memory to be used in 32-bit systems, given appropriate operating system support.”

Right now, Parallels offers partial support for PAE mode, which is why RAM is limited to 4GB (3.5 to be safe). Our next version, due in beta around the turn of the year, will offer full PAE support.

  • My Mac Pro has more than 4GB of RAM. Does that mean I can’t use Parallels at all?

No, it doesn’t! There’s actually an easy workaround that will let you use Parallels on any Mac Pro, regardless of how much RAM you have.

This is accomplished by limiting your memory size with a boot-loader oprtion. Directions are as follows:

  1. Load your Terminal window. You can find this application in Macintosh HD -> Applications -> Utilities
  2. Enter the following command: sudo nvram boot-args=”maxmem=3500″.
  3. Hit enter.

  4. Enter your administrator password. Hit enter.
  5. Reboot your Mac Pro
  6. Get to work with Parallels!

To refresh your Mac Pro so it can use full amount of memory you have installed, just repeat steps 1-4, substituting the amount of memory you have (in MB) in the command line sudo nvram boot-args=”maxmem=YOURMEMORYTOTAL”.

  • Does this new build work on the just-released 64-bit Core 2 Duo iMacs?

Yes. We’ve had positive responses so far from the lucky few who have 64-bit Core 2 Duo users.

  • I see you’re running Windows Vista Beta 2. What about RC?

Vista RC has been out for less than a week and we haven’t had a chance to fully test it. Beta 1 and Beta 2 do work right now, and we should have support for the RC builds shortly. I’ll circle back with QA on that one and see what the timeline looks like.

  • When I load Parallels Desktop on my Mac Pro, I see that VT mode is disabled. Why?

This is actually an Apple bug, not a Parallels bug. You may remember that when we first launched Desktop in Beta back in April, some Mac Minis had VT inside, but it was disabled due to a firmware glitch. The same thing is happening here. We’ve already contacted Apple about this, and they’re working on the problem.

  • I’ve seen in the comments and on the forum that some users are having some complications with this build. What’s the deal?

Short version: its beta software! Betas are there to be tested and evaluated, so we can work out all of the issues before we go “live” with the final release. Its completely normal to find bugs and other glitches in beta software. Also pkese remember that Apple does not provide anyone – not even some of their own teams – early access to hardware. We got our Mac Pros (and this week, our 64-bit iMacs) the same time as the rest of the world. That doesn’t give us a ton of lead time on fixes.

  • What do I do if I find a bug or other technical issue?

You’ve all been a huge help in making Parallels Desktop what it is today, and I hope that you’ll continue to offer your advice, point out bugs, and give us your suggestions on how to make things better and more usable.

If you do want to let us know what you think about the beta, you’ve got three ways to get your comments to us:

  1. Submit your comments via our online support form.
  2. Email them to
  3. Discuss them on our online support forum.

A note on the forum: While our QA and Engineering teams may not be able to respond to every post, they’re always monitoring the forums and will definitely see your comments.

25 Desktop Update RC: Compatible with Mac Pro, Leopard, and Vista!

About a week ago I let you know that our Mac Pro compatible version was coming in a few days. Well, its here…and its got some really great new features!

First and foremost, this build offers full compatibility with Mac Pro towers running with up to 3.5GB of RAM (NOTE: You can run Parallels on Mac Pros with 4GB of RAM, but we recommend 3.5…more on that later). Thank you to all of the Mac Pro users out there who waited patiently (some more patiently than others) while we got this working.

Second, we’ve added support for the developer builds of OS X Leopard, which as most of you know is the next generation of OS X, due to launch sometime next year. This means that you can run Parallels on any Intel Mac running OS X Tiger or OS X Leopard…it does NOT mean that you can run OS X in a virtual machine (sorry guys!).

Third, you can now run Windows Vista Beta as a guest OS! I originally promised this to you around the end of the year, but our developers came through big time and we’re giving it to you ahead of schedule. Support for Vista is experimental, so you may run into some device and driver issues, but you can get Vista running and start tinkering with it in a safe virtual environment. If you do run into an issue with Vista, let us know by filling out our support web form.

There’s a bunch of other stuff in the Update RC, but those are the big three. You can get the full list of features, fixes and upgrades at the Update RC main page.

Ready to give it a try? Get the Update RC at the Parallels Desktop download page!


  • If you’re new to Parallels Desktop for Mac: you can start using improved Parallels Desktop for Mac by downloading and installing the RC on a «clean» machine. Click here to get a free 15-days trial!
  • If you already have your copy of Parallels Desktop for Mac: Updating your build is easy. Just download the Update RC file and install it over your existing version.
    • You will NOT need to reinstall any guest OS or any applications when you update your Parallels Desktop for Mac.
    • Don’t forget to update Parallels Tools after installing Update RC!
0 Intel Virtualization Technology and AMD Secure Virtual Machine Technology

Thanks to the lightweight hypervisor that powers our virtualization products, we’re able to fully support hardware virtualization technologies like Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) and AMD Secure Virtual Machine Technology (SVM). If you’re looking to run fast, stable, secure virtual machines (and you probably are, or you wouldn’t be reading this), that’s a very good thing.

VT and SVM are specially optimized processor architectures and firmware sets that serve as a kind of turbo booster for our virtualization engine. They offload some of the “heavy lifting” from our virtualization engine to the processor level, which means that virtual machines are substantially faster and more stable. We’ve seen performance increases of up to 150% on a VT/SVM powered box!

Working in conjunction with the hypervisor, VT and SVM help the Primary and Guest OSes happily coexist on a single machine.

The great part about this stuff is that if you’re working on a box that’s VT or SVM powered, Parallels immediately – and automatically – takes advantage of it. No techie magic required!

Intel and AMD are rolling out their respective hardware virtualization technologies now, so chances are that if you’re buying a new computer, it’ll have VT or SVM inside it.

If you’re using Parallels Desktop on an Intel Mac, you’re already working on a machine that’s VT-powered. This is one of the key reasons why Windows runs so damn fast in Parallels Desktop!

  • For more information on Intel VT, click here.
  • For more information about AMD SVM, click here.
  • For a third-party look on why these technologies are important, check out Loyd Case’s recent ABC News article, titled “Let’s Get Virtual”.
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