Parallels has released a third beta version of Parallels Desktop for Mac.

The new version of the pre-release virtualisation software is laden with features, not least being support for upgrading a virtual Windows XP system to Windows Vista.

Parallels Desktop for Mac Release Candidate 3 (Build 3170) will be made available to registered customers for free when it reaches final version status.

Additional improvements in the software include USB 2.0 support; a full virtual CD/DVD drive, allowing users to burn CDs and DVDs directly into their virtual machines, and to play any copy-protected CD or DVD just like you would on a real PC; and improvements to Coherence, a feature which lets Mac users run a Windows application without needing to enter the Windows environment.

The updated software also furnishes upgraded support for Apple's own Boot Camp software.

Drag-and-drop functionality, a redesigned user interface, and software to migrate data from real or virtual Windows PCs to a Mac-hosted virtual machine also debut in the new beta release.

The software is available for purchase and download online. It costs £43.18.