Parallels has released what the company insists is the fastest, most seamless Windows-on-Mac solution ever in Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac.

The software allows users, currently around 2 million of them, to run Windows, Linux and other operating systems side-by-side with Mac OS X.

According to independent performance research conducted by Crimson Consulting Group, Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac performs 22 per cent faster than the nearest Windows-on-Mac competitor in standard productivity testing of Windows 7 64-bit on a MacBook Pro.

Parallels also claims Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is up to 300 per cent faster for virtual machine operations than the previous version 4.0.  

The company promises more than 70 new features in Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac, offering users greater flexibility in how they run a PC on a Mac.

Mac users can choose how much or little Windows they want to see, from running Windows in Full Screen mode where Windows completely covers the Mac user interface to the new Crystal view mode which makes Windows completely disappear. Users can even get a Mac-like experience in their Windows applications, using the intuitive Apple Trackpad Gestures technology to pinch, swipe, and rotate as they do in Mac applications. 

The new Crystal mode hides the Parallels Dock icon and menu-bar entries—a new menu-bar icon and docked folder provide access to Windows' Start menu and applications.

Parallels showed Macworld an impressive new Mac Look, which as the name suggests gives Windows applications the complete Mac look and feel with Aqua effects.

Parallels Desktop 5 now offers full support for Aero in Windows Vista and 7 through Windows WDDM driver, including Aero Flip 3D. Virtual machine size can now be automatically optimised for best performance with Parallels Compressor, while improved performance for Linux guest OS from KVM paravirtualisation is promised with this upgrade.

Users can now copy and paste formatted text and complete layouts including images, even between Windows and Linux guest OSs.

The update offers 7 times better graphic performance for games and 3D applications than the previous version with Direct X 9Ex with Shader Model 3 and OpenGL 2.1 support insists the company.

The update includes superior graphics performance for Linux guests through OpenGL 2.1 support. Full hardware resources can be utilised with support for 8 virtual CPUs, 64 bit Windows and Snow Leopard Server 64 bit

The enhanced Parallels Transporter lets users simply move PCs - including Windows 7 - and 3rd party virtual machines to the Mac.

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac costs £59.99, including VAT and what Parallels says is £100 worth of additional software free including a one year sub of Parallels Internet Security 2009 by Kaspersky, Acronis Disk Director Suite 10.0 disk management tool and Acronis True Image Home 2010, a backup and recovery solutions.

Current Parallels Desktop users can upgrade their existing software for £34.99. Users that purchased version 4.0 on or after October 1st 2009 qualify with a proof of purchase for a free upgrade to version 5. A free trial of Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is available.

More information can be found at www.parallels.com/desktop.

System requirements are Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher and an Intel based Mac. The software supports 32- and 64-bit virtual machine operating systems such as Windows, Linux and Solari. A full list of supported OS is available at www.parallels.com/uk/products/desktop5/resources/sr.

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