The Parallels team has issued new software it claims makes it easier to install Windows on a Mac than it is to install on a PC.

The Parallels Installation Assistant software now ships with Parallels Desktop for Mac, a solution that lets Intel Mac users install foreign operating systems, such as Windows and Linux installs, on a Mac.

The assistant offers an 'Express Windows OS Installation Mode' for Windows XP and Windows Vista that completely automates the virtual machine setup and Windows installation processes.

Once complete, the Installation Assistant also automatically installs Parallels Tools, a free set of useful add-ons that improve networking, video, sound and peripheral support. These tools also let users cut, copy and paste data between systems, as well as share files.

The Installation Assistant also provides easy setup for other versions of Windows, plus any Linux distribution, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, eComStation and MS-DOS.

In addition to this news, a new build of Parallels Desktop for Mac offers Shared Networking, which lets users seamlessly connect their virtual machines to the internet via a cable modem, LAN, broadband card, WiFi connection, or dial-up modem, without any manual network reconfiguration.

This same feature also effectively hides virtual machines from the outside world, making them far less likely to be the victim of a hacker attack.

Existing Parallels Desktop for Mac users with auto-update enabled will receive the Installation Assistant and Shared Networking feature automatically. Users who do not have auto-update enabled can manually download them by clicking Check for Updates in the 'Help' tab of the application menu bar, or download them in a single package directly from the Parallels Download Center. No reinstallation is required.

A free 15-day trial version of Parallels Desktop for Mac is available, otherwise it costs $79 online.