27. October 2012 16:12
by Daniel Harris
Today I got an alert from Parallels that the latest update was available. I always like to be notified rather than downloading it automatically so I can see what new features have been introduced.
The latest update has a focus on Windows 8 as you would expect. The ones i’m most interested in i’ve listed below:
Support for one finger gestures to show charms and running applications
Full speed support for USB 3.0 devices
Windows 8 system notifications are displayed as Mountain Lion notifications
New, more intuitive design to optimise Windows for working on Retina Displays
Some other updates i'm personally less interested in, but still noteworthy are:
Support for Windows Server 2012
Ability to assign up to 16GB RAM to a single VM (I'll be sticking with 8GB on my MBPr)
In case you are considering upgrading but not quite sure yet i've covered some of the changes below.
One finger gesture support for opening Charms etc
This makes the gestures available on touch screens work on trackpads. To activate them you need to swipe from off the trackpad from either the left, right, or top/bottom.
Swipe in from the left to see all your running applications
Swipe in from the right to bring up the charms menu
Swipe in from the top/bottom to bring up the context menus (Same as right click)
It works really well and shows the OS can be just as intuitive with a trackpad as with a touchscreen. I tend to use keyboard shortcuts myself, but for those out there who don't like remembering key combinations this should be a welcome addition.
New UI for Retina Display Options
I actually think this is a step backwards, but it ultimately gives you the same options as before. Previously you had two check boxes; One to enable the use of the full resolution, and another to Optimise the display.
Optimising the display basically just sets Windows DPI setting to 199%.
You now get 3 options, i've listed below how these map to the old check boxes.
Scaled = Both boxes unticked
Best for Retina = Both boxes ticked
More space = Only "Enable full resolution" ticked
My personal preference is to choose "More Space" and set my DPI setting manually to 178%, this still allows more tiles on the start screen, without things becoming too small.
The parallels "Best for Retina" setting forces it to 199% which means tiles on the home screen become larger, meaning you fit the same number of tiles as you would on a screen running at 1440x900.
Windows 8 System Notifications displayed as Mountain Lion notifications
I was disappointed to find that this doesn't appear to work if you run your VM in full screen or windowed. I tried installing an application from the Windows store, sent an email to my account in Office 2013, and also turned on my Xbox 360. All should trigger a notification, and they did in Windows, but none of them appeared in Mountain Lion.
It looks like this only works in Coherence mode...Which makes sense for it to work here, but I think you should be able to get alerts in ML no matter how you like to run your VM. An example where this would be useful is if you have Windows 8 in full screen on Desktop 2, but you're working on Desktop 1 in Mac OS X.
I hope Parallels will add support for this in full screen/windowed mode in a future update.
UPDATE: I think my machine just needed a reboot after enabling this setting as it has been working great for a while now. Good to know when something happens in Windows if i'm using OS X at the time.
General Impression of the Update
Any update is always welcome, and it's great Parallels are releasing new features on a regular basis lately. Parallels is still the most valuable piece of software i've had, and my personal favourite for desktop virtualisation. It still feels so much faster than VM Ware player/ Workstation on Windows which I also use on a daily basis.
Most importantly of all the update has not broken anything. This is a problem some people have had in the past with new versions of PD8. I can say that for me nothing has gone wrong. I am running a Retina MBP and Windows 8 RTM from August.
From my personal experience you can update to the latest version without fear of issues cropping up.
You can read the full KB article that discusses all the changes in the update here: Parallels KB article for PD8 8.0.18305
If you've updated please post your impressions in the comments.