Parallels Workstation 2.2 for Windows

A less mature version of Parallels Mac-based virtualization tool

Parallels Workstation for Windows is a lesser product than Parallels on Mac. It lacks support for 64-bit guests, including 64-bit Windows XP or Vista. There is none of the handy snapshot support offered in the Mac, and only one virtual CPU is offered. Because of this, we were only able to test Windows 32-bit and not Vista 64-bit. PW 2.2 also lacks tools (integration support) for Ubuntu, although other guests are supported.

Networking support is offered via either bridged networking to existing Windows drivers (some call this "shim" support) or independent host-only networking via its own Parallels network driver. Other support, including USB 1.1 support for various devices, is good and found devices and offered them to guest operating systems tested readily. A limitation on USB 2.0+ devices caused some problems, however.

Unfortunately, there are no desktop/application integration modes available (as in the Mac version). Guest VMs are largely autonomous from their hosts, except when the guest can launch an application from folder sharing — a decided disadvantage, and one that makes it tougher for the average user to deploy for everyday guest application/operating systems integration.

Installation of guest operating systems offered us limited choices. For example, when installing guest VMs, the default RAM offered was a bit low (256MB for Windows XP and Ubuntu). We could, however, clone VMs for distribution or reuse or for versioning of guest VMs (all subject to adequate licensing, of course).

Running Ubuntu Linux guests

Having no tools/specific integration offered for Ubuntu 8.10 meant no shared folders or enhanced drivers were available, unlike the high integration Parallels offers for Mac platforms. And although USB and Bluetooth worked, the USB camera did not. With USB integration, we were able to pair our phones via Bluetooth, and send and receive files on our sample phone. Yet the camera wouldn't display an image, although it was detected; natively, Ubuntu can find the camera and make it work.

A fingerprint reader that was built in to the smaller HP we tested wasn't able to be virtualized, although it could be read by each operating system when it was native, rather than a guest. We were perplexed. The final insult was that with Ubuntu (or XP, below), Parallels popped up with the same cryptic error message. Ubuntu also wouldn't shut down properly; we had to manually stop it after shutting it down using Parallels Workstation stop button.

Running XP guests

Installation of XP was done manually; there are no "greased" settings for it, unlike the Mac version. We still needed to install Windows drivers for USB components and they worked well. Our Bluetooth test worked very well, and we paired quickly and sent files back and forth to our test cell phone. The USB camera was detected, but didn't work as it's a USB 2.0 device, and there's not enough driver bandwidth available for it — USB 1.1 only.

Shared folders were easy to set up between host and guest VM, but the level of application integration between host and guest is comparatively missing.

Overall, there's much less to tell about Parallels Workstation for Windows because there's far less there than the Mac version. Parallels has announced a new highly sophisticated version for Windows, but it wasn't available for testing. The version we tested works OK, but is a far cry from the Mac version.

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