Parallels: Not going so well

So, I’ve been running Parallels for Mac for a few weeks now, and I’m kind of amazed at how well it works and ready to ditch it at the same time. On the one hand, it enables me to do pretty much everything I need to do in Windows running under OSX. On the other hand, it does some of that stuff really damn slowly, and doesn’t do a couple of things at all.

Things Parallels does well:

Normal Windows use for normal Windows users
Medium-level Office use under Windows

Things Parallels does damn slowly or poorly:

Disk operations involving local windows volumes
Disk operations involving USB or Firewire drives (under Windows, that is)
Mount as writeable some NTFS volumes
Attach to some networked printers

Things Parallels doesn’t do at all:

Access the older snap server we have on our LAN
Allow you to successfully install Delphi 7
Allow you to use Direct X versions above 9
Allow you to update your Sun Java under Windows

As you can see, there are some issues. One of the most confusing issues was I could sometimes write certain NTFS volumes, then the next time I attached to them, I had only read access (under OSX, under XP it was fine). It was a little bewildering, but I suspect it’s permissions getting reset by XP on the volume. As to access speeds on local Windows volumes, that’s probably the single biggest issue. I haven’t actually measured, but write speeds are at BEST 5x slower than they would be natively, and often more like 20x slower. It’s not a big issue for the average user, perhaps, but I have several 50+GB files I move around, and it sometimes takes days to move one under Parallels. That’s just not workable.

I always kind of knew in the back of my mind that Parallels might be great for the OSX user who occasionally needs a Windows app, but it certainly isn’t for people who spend the majority of their time in Windows. My experiences over the last few weeks has shown that to be true. Virtualization is pretty amazing, but it’s not native execution after all. It’s a damn shame too, as I really like OSX better than Windows, but I’ve gotta live in the real world, and the world I work in uses Windows.

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