Thurrott: Parallels OK for occasional Windows use, otherwise Boot Camp is absolutely the way to go

“Most of the people now falling over themselves to praise Parallels have only used Microsoft’s anemic Virtual PC solution, which ran horribly slowly on PowerPC-based Macs. I’ve been using virtualization software for the PC for several years, and I’ve got VMWare Workstation, Virtual PC, and Virtual Server 2005 R2 installed on various machines here in my cluttered office. None of these solutions are perfect, and all come with various performance issues. Thus, I was curious to see whether Parallels lives up to the speed claims I’d read online,” Paul Thurrott writes for Internet Nexus.

“The truth is, it doesn’t,” Thurrott writes. “Parallels is still virtual machine technology, and that means it runs more slowly than a real PC. It also exhibits the tell-tale signs of virtualization that betray what’s really going on under the hood, even when running in full-screen mode: The mouse cursor tends to lag behind your actual movements somewhat, resulting in a vaguely disconcerting pointing experience that is suspiciously similar to that of a badly-tuned Tablet PC stylus. (Update: The mouse vagueness is partially removed by installing the bundled Parallels Tools. It’s still horrible when you drag and drop anything.)”

Thurrott writes, “That said, Parallels does perform very well for what it is, about on par with what I experience on the PC with VMWare or Virtual Server. That this is a 1.0 product is astonishing. VMWare and Microsoft/Connectix have had years to refine their offerings. For those who just need occasional Windows application compatibility, Parallels is an excellent solution, no doubt about it. But if you want to run Windows regularly, Boot Camp is absolutely the way to go. The experiences are night and day: With Boot Camp, you’re running Windows XP just like you would on a real PC. With Parallels, it’s clearly a virtual machine.”

More in the full article here.

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Related articles:
Apple ‘Get a Mac’ web page pushes Parallels Desktop instead of Apple’s own Boot Camp – June 18, 2006
Parallels Desktop for Mac goes final; simultaneously run Mac OS, Windows, Linux on Intel-powered Mac – June 15, 2006
Which is better for running Windows programs on Macs, Boot Camp or Parallels Desktop? – May 25, 2006
Washington Times: Parallels Workstation 2.1 ran Windows XP ‘quite nicely’ on an Apple Macintosh – April 18, 2006


  1. OF COURSE we expect a PRO-WINDOWS, M$ butt licking troll like Paul Thurrott to suggest booting completely into WindoZe instead of using something that can contain that POS OS in a sandbox like Parallels Workstation can.

    Trying to convert Mac users into Windoze users,


  2. Works great for me. And I’ve only got 1GB of memory in my MacBook Pro. But then again, I’m only running Parallels to run a copy of Windows 2000 so I can play Diamond Mind Baseball.

  3. Paul, you seem to have it exactly backwards: You would use BootCamp more for the “occasional,” since you have to go through the hassle of rebooting. You would use Parallels more for running Windows “regularly” on the Mac. … He’d claim that his point is, Parallels isn’t suitable, but if you’ve tried it, you know it really is.

    I run Windows XP Pro on my MacBook Pro (17″) under Parallels, and it ran so great, I took off a BootCamp partition to reclaim the space.

    I divided my black MacBook into OS X and Vista partitions; the only reason for that is there are no Vista drivers for Parallels.

    He’s right that it’s an awesome 1.0 release!

  4. What the hell is he gushing about? With BC you’re BOOTED IN WINDOWS. There is no comparison – literally. If Parallels begins to catch up with BOOTED OS performance – ever, then great, but comparing Windows in BC to Windows in Parallels is – well – uninformed. Comparing virtual machine performance with Parallels makes perfect sense.

  5. “With Boot Camp, you’re running Windows XP just like you would on a real PC. With Parallels, it’s clearly a virtual machine.”

    This is the back-handed slap. The snide “real PC” remark … as if a Mac isn’t a “real” PC.

    Yes, the back-handed slap is still there. It was just muted a bit.

  6. I’ve got to believe that Parallels would work great for biz applications that are never going to be available in OSX.

    I went to an Apple store yesterday and it baffles me that they don’t have Parallels on any of the demo machines there. If I’m trying to get a friend (that has to have windows) to switch to a mac I can’t show it.

  7. BC is simply the tip of the iceburg, which will come forth on the launch of Leopard in January.

    MWSF ’07, to this point, looks to be absolutely huge on a number of levels.


  8. C’mon Leopard! I can’t wait till January. I’m on the precipice of switching our tax practice over but I have to have a reliable Windows solution in order to run our tax prep software. This is killing me…we need new computers now and I’m still not sure if Parallels is up to the task of a full functioning office environment. Boot Camp is great but dual booting is not an option. January is just too close to the start of tax season and doesn’t allow me enough time to work out any issues. Oh the humanity! Ok, that was a little dramatic but seriously if I have to spend another friggin tax season fighting Windows I’m gonna go postal and I AM NOT going to get stuck with another Goddamn Dell. I’ll build my own boxes before I get stuck with those idiots…c’mon Leopard! Daddy needs a new computer!

  9. Paul doesn’t understand synergy. The ability to cut and paste between applications running in different OS’s (which of course is impossible if you have to reboot to get to the other OS) out weighs the performance gains in the guest OS.

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