Parallels has announced the launch of Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac, the latest generation of its applications that lets users run Windows on Mac computers. The new software will ship on 4 September, although existing users (of version 5 and above) can download it now for £35.74, as can users of VMware Fusion. 

The revamped application has been upgraded with Apple’s latest-generation computers and operating system in mind - it supports the high-definition Retina display available on the new MacBook Pro, and it offers a number of features that take advantage of Mountain Lion, including the ability to use the new dictation tool in both Mac and Windows, the addition of Windows notifications in the Mac’s Notification Center, the ability to organize Windows apps in Launchpad, and the use of Mountain Lion gestures (such as pinch-to-zoom) in Windows applications. Parallels also told us that Mountain Lion dictation will work in the Windows version of Word.

Parallels said the new offering is also speedier than its previous product, Parallels 7, beating the speeds of the elder product by as much as 30 percent when gaming, and 25 percent when conducting “virtual machine” operations.

Thursday’s announcement comes a week after Parallels competitor VMware launched latest version of its own Windows-on-Mac application, Fusion 5. Unlike VMware’s solution, Parallel 8 includes support for Thunderbolt.

Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac is immediately available as an £35 upgrade for existing users of the app. New customers will be able to purchase it - or download a free trial - on 4 September, either in the standard £64.99 version, or in a £34.95 “Student Edition.” The Parallels Desktop 8 Switch to Mac Edition is £99.95 and includes extra features for those moving from PC to Mac. A Parallels Desktop for Mac Enterprise Edition is also available with volume licencing options. 

The Parallels Mobile app, which works with Parallels Desktop for Mac to give access to both Mac and Windows applications from an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, is available in the App Store for £2.99.

If you purchased Parallels from an authorised reseller after Apple launched Mountain Lion on 25 July, you qualify for a free update to the new version.

In other news, it’s likely that Parallels users in the UK will soon be able to take advantage of the feature in US versions that allows users to download a copy of Windows to use with the software thanks to new Mac App Store-like plans coming from Microsoft.


VMware Fusion 5 now available