Mac, Windows can go side by side on one PC
I am writing this in a Macintosh program called Pages. When I finish, I will copy the text and paste it into Microsoft Word for Windows. That doesn't mean that I will copy the column onto a USB drive and transport it to the Windows computer that's gathering dust in back of me, because I'm running OSX Mountain Lion on the Macintosh — and Windows 7 in a window right next to it on my iMac.
Few will be bowled over by this bit of magic. Like me, some have upgraded and used every version of Parallels Desktop since its early, clunky days. It's the best way that I know of to run Windows and Mac programs side by side on the same Macintosh PC. There are other, cheaper ways to do the same magic tricks — VMware Fusion comes to mind, at $50 versus $80 for Parallels.
I run several Windows programs on my sleek iMac because the corresponding Mac versions are not up to snuff, if they exist at all. I like Pages, the Mac's word processing program, better than Word for Windows, but I can't transmit my golden prose from my Mac, so I copy and paste it into Word. It's next to a miracle that I can have the best of both worlds — Mac's superior operating system that's practically immune to viruses and other mischief — and still run those few Windows programs I need — all on the same PC.
New in version 8 of Parallels is the ability to run under both Mountain Lion on the Mac and Windows 8. For die-hard Windows fans, the whole screen can be taken up by the Windows desktop. Same for Mac. You can position the Windows task bar directly on top of the Macintosh dock, and run Windows and Mountain Lion next to each other, copying and pasting between them.
Other features of the latest version of Parallels include the ability to use some touch gestures in Windows that are used in Macs, and speed. There's no lag when you hop from Mac windows to Windows windows. You can even make your Windows window look as if it were a Mac window, so the transition between the two operating systems is not jarring.
Setup is pretty straightforward. You create a partition on your Mac's hard drive for Windows, start the Parallels installation program, install Windows on the new partition, and whenever you want to run a Windows program, you either call it up from the Mac launchpad or click on the Windows program from the Mac's application folder. It's far simpler than it sounds.
Parallels also can be configured for other operating systems such as Ubuntu and Chrome OS, and it's available as an application for iPads, iPhones and Android devices. With the app, you can see both the Mac and Windows screens and even control them from your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
Noah Matthews is a McClatchy-Tribune Information Services columnist.