My name is Mac, and I’m a PC (and a Linux?)

May 26, 2009 at 11:00 pm 4 comments

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Linux, Chicago, Pixar, and Anxiety, that I would be writing a review of my experience using Parallels 4.0. Well, that time has come. Bear in mind that I am using Parallels as a casual user, and I don’t know much about the deeper features, or how certain aspects work. I just know what does work, and what does not work the way it should.

This post will double as a call for help for the small issues I have been having, if there are any out there experienced in Parallels, let me know if you have the answers to any of my questions please!

To start off, I will just say that I love Parallels as a tool to allow me to run Windows on my MacBook Pro. It isn’t perfect, but it is definitely a lot better than Boot Camp, if only because I don’t have to reboot to start Windows. That alone was enough to warrant spending the money on it (I spent $80).

But there are also some cool features about Parallels that make it cooler than just running Windows in a window. My personal favorite is coherence mode, which integrates Windows’ windows and the start bar into Mac’s user interface seamlessly. It is kind of like running your Windows applications in Mac without having the Windows desktop around so you can access your Mac seamlessly. And the start bar appears at the bottom of your Mac screen. It was really confusing when it first happened, and I thought the program was broken. But once you use it once or twice, it really starts to make sense, and it allows you to navigate your Windows machine and your Mac machine together at the same time. I would not, however, recommend using coherence mode with any intensive programs, as it uses more of your resources than normal or full-screen mode. I was playing Unreal Tournament (the old one, not any of the 200x series, so not a hugely intensive game) in coherence mode, and my computer shut down to prevent heat damage. So don’t do that, if you like your computer the way it is.

I use parallels mostly to play games, so when I run it, I usually push it to the limit. I learned that you have to manually allocate any RAM to the virtual machine above 1GB. So I allocated about 2.35GB of RAM to my Windows machine to help speed up my gaming. Even with this, newer games run pretty sluggish. This might be because I am running the Release Candidate of Windows 7, which is sure to use a decent amount of emory on its own before even thinking about games. I’ll say a little about Windows 7 a little later in this post, so keep reading šŸ˜›

I also have been having a problem with the sound in Windows. It will work fine for a while, and then it will just stop working. It still works through my Mac, but any Windows sounds will stop. This is a minor annoyance for now, but something that I will be looking more into later to see if I can fix it. I’m sure the fix won’t be too hard, just something that I have to do.

So, Parallels is a good program for those who want, or need, to run Windows, but would prefer to run a Mac on a day-to-day basis. Its not perfect, but it gets the job done, and looks good while doing so.

It also runs Linux, which I just recently installed on it. I haven’t messed with it at all because I have been in Chicago all weekend, but it installed great and worked flawlessly for the half hour I spent configuring my settings.

So now, I’m sure at least someone has wondered what I think about the Windows 7 RC. In short, I think that it is Vista 2. It is better than Vista 1, but still feels just like Vista. And it still has those annoying security pop-ups that they said they would get rid of. In fact, I feel like I am getting them more often. Maybe it is because I am in parallels and it is linked to the Mac security somehow, or maybe it is because that is the way they changed it. But now, every time IĀ  open up a program I downloaded from the internet I get a pop-up asking if I really want to open this, because programs downloaded from the internet can be dangerous. I would have been fine with that the first time it popped up, or even if it had a ‘never show me this again’ check box. But for now, it is just plain annoying.

Some of the new features are cool though. I haven’t delved too deep, but the ones that stick out to me are mostly centered around the GUI. There is now an option to select background themes, which is cool. You can right click the background and select change background image, and it will randomly select an image out of the theme you selected. It is a cool way to randomize your background while staying with a theme you like. I have mine set to architecture, so I can cycle between images of awesome buildings as my background. The other cool feature I have noticed, and I’m not 100% sure this wasn’t in Vista, is that you can hit the Windows button on your keyboard (or the Command/Apple button for me :)) to bring up the start bar, even if you are running a full screen application, such as a game. This is cool because it will let you navigate your computer without exiting out of the game, much like Mac OS X. They also kept the ‘show desktop’ button, but moved it to the bottom right corner. I like that button, and the new location doesn’t bother me at all.

The best thing about 7 is that it supports multi-touch. This is great because I am so used to using it on my Mac, and also because it will allow other PC companies to create multi-touch devices for their laptops.

So overall, Windows 7 isn’t bad, but its not a huge improvement for me either. Maybe by the time they release the final version it will be better, but for now, it is just Vista 2. Sorry Microsoft!

Thats all for today, check back this Friday for a review of Green Day’s latest, “21st Century Breakdown” on the 2 week anniversary of its release. It probably won’t be as in depth as the review of Queensryche’s “American Soldier” was, but who knows, maybe I’ll get carried away.

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Links from Chicago Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mitcher6  |  May 26, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    That’s really too bad about Window’s 7, I was really looking forward to forgetting vista and moving on to a much better version, but it doesn’t sound like I’ll be getting that. And by the way, the windows button will do that on vista too šŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 2. mitcher6  |  May 27, 2009 at 12:19 am

    so apparently when you change the website, it doesn’t change the link to old posts. I’m testing this with this random comment lol

    Reply
  • 3. Alex from Parallels  |  May 27, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for this great post. As for the sound issues have you tried our work around which we posted here
    http://blogs.parallels.com/consumertech/2009/05/new-windows-7-rc-on-parallels-desktop-for-mac.html

    Alex

    Reply
    • 4. Aaron Hecker  |  May 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks, that seems to have done the trick.

      Reply

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