back to article Parallels increases prices with Desktop version 18

Corel-owned Parallels has put out an update for its Windows-on-a-Mac Desktop product with a few neat new features and an eye-watering price. We last looked at the wares of the virtualization veteran last August when version 17 came out, and came to the conclusion that if one wanted to run Windows applications on Apple's new …

  1. 43300 Silver badge

    Have Parallels come to some agreement with Microsoft over downloads of W11 ARM? Looks like they must have as it appears that the OS can be downloaded from Microsoft within Parallels despite there being no generic downloadable ISO for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Looks like it

      I just downloaded 18 (I have a subscription service so get it as an update) and indeed Windows 11 is there and you're able to download Home, Pro or Enterprise editions right from the interface.

      Parallels are well known for having a good relationship with Apple and Microsoft so it's quite likely they've been able to do something with MS to enable a simpler install process. Or, perhaps that exclusivity agreement MS had with Qualcomm has expired (it was rumoured to do so at some point "soon").

    2. karlkarl Silver badge

      >> despite there being no generic downloadable ISO for it.

      If you are on Linux / BSD, the following URL allows you to download a raw Windows 11 .iso (Win11_English_x64v1.iso):

      If you attempt that URL and it detects a Windows user agent, it dicks you around with weird online downloaders and other non-standard crap.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        That's for the 64 bit version though, not the ARM one.

        Using MacOS also allows the direct download for the x64 ISO, but not the ARM one.

        1. karlkarl Silver badge

          Ah, right; missed that.

          It is available, but it is a bit of a faff.

          If you are interested, have a flick through of this Windows on ARM (Raspberry Pi in this case) guide:

          I believe it is the same Windows 11 image.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      You can definitely download a Windows ISO from Microsoft if you use Safari on MacOS.

      Interestingly I tried it on Chrome / Windows 10 right now, and it actually worked there as well. Perhaps my adblocker extension helped here, so your mileage may vary. But, if you want to install a VM on your Mac, you will definitely not have a problem getting the ISO.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        As I noted above that's the 64-bit ISO, which isn't the one you will need on an M1/M2-based Mac.

  2. TheFifth

    Never again

    I've had many Parallels licenses over the years, my need for virtualisation is not great and I only use it once in a while. That need is also decreasing as each year passes.

    The last license I bought was for version 15. I knew I'd need to test something on an older version of MacOS in a couple of weeks so bought it to ensure I had the software ready for when it was needed. I fought with VirtualBox to get it to run MacOS, but I couldn't get it to work and thought I'd cut my loses and just purchase a Parallels licence.

    I purposely bought the 'pay once, use it until it doesn't work anymore' version as I refuse to pay a yearly subscription for something I need once in a blue moon. If the older software still works then it will likely fit my needs (which it normally does for a couple of years at least).

    So about 11 days after purchasing I came to the point where I actually needed to use Parallels. I installed it for the first time, entered my license details and the first thing that popped up was a window asking me to upgrade to version 16 and pay them more cash.

    That's OK I thought, I've only just bought this and it's literally the first time I've installed it. Surely they can see I'm only just activating the licence and they must have a grace period for a free update if you've just purchased. Well there is and it's 10 days, so I'd missed it by a day or so. I contact support and their response is basically "tough" (but couched in nice PR language) and I'm told that if I wanted to always run the latest, then I should buy a subscription.

    I don't want to always run the latest, but I would have thought 11 days is close enough to have a free upgrade (especially as I've not actually used the license yet). I'd just spent close to £100 on it, so they weren't getting any more cash from me. Being asked for more cash the first time I install something I've just purchased left a bad taste in my mouth and the support response made me vow to never pay them a penny again. I knew version 16 would be out sometime in the future and was fine with staying on version 15, but when it comes out less than 2 weeks later, and before you've actually used the version 15 license, that's a bit much. It looks like they don't even offer the pay once option now, it's subscriptions all the way.

    Thanks El Reg for the heads up on UTM, looks like it will meet my lowly needs pretty well.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Never again

      I'm still ony Parallels 14 and, while I use it fairly frequently for a single Window VM, I'm with you on the price policy. Parallels is a great app with thoughtful integration with MacOS but all the claims about speed are bunkum. I've been using it for over 10 years and in that time the claim for speed increases would have Windows running so fast the CPU clock would burst into flames. Of course, that hasn't happened.

      The subscription model is great for cashflow but it's also a hard sell and will push more of us to look for alternatives. I have several other applications that are begging for renewals: MacOS users must be easy targets.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Never again

        Any piece of stand-alone software which is sold as a subscription is off the table as far as I'm concerned.

    2. WolfFan

      Re: Never again

      I literally just got an email from Parallels asking me to download my *free* copy of Parallels Desktop 18. It’s chock full of features that I will never use, not least its integration with X-boxes.

    3. Abominator

      Re: Never again

      I have been using Parallels for about 10 years on Mac and have a few licences. They got me over to the subscription but for my usage I am now finding it a bit steep. I have an M1 Mac and have tried the ARM windows, it does work well, but I have also tried UTM and if anything it give me much more control.

      UTM is based on QEMU and works on pretty much anything as an emulator or virtual machine for the same CPU for better performance.

      UTM makes QEMU much more user friendly.

      One problem I have always had with Parallels is graphics driver support with Linux. Every update to Parallels Tools for the last 10 years it seems like to breaks graphics driver support and I have to go picking away on the command line to try and fix and sometimes fail. I have never had this kind of problem with VMWare.

      I think it sounds like the price gouging is time for me to give up on it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    goodbye to Parallels

    as much as i am loathe to say so, it's cheaper and easier to use Citrix with a VDI PC if your company uses Citrix! as a budget owner i have changed my viewpoint on Parallels and this price shift means we'll dump their product.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: goodbye to Parallels

      Oops, didn't you read the memo on Citrix being bought out? Price rises and redundancies all round, methinks.

  4. Nifty

    Don't know about M1 but for traditional Macs, Oracle's Virtualbox is free and worked well enough to get Windows 10 onto my circa 2015 Mac, as an experiment. I've also got Vine on the old Mac which allows me to run Windows Paint Shop Pro with its perpetual licence.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Virtualbox doesn't work on M1, and, as far as I can gather, Oracle don't have any plans to support it ever.

    2. ThomH

      VMWare Fusion Player is also free for personal use, though you have to register first. It's my preferred choice.

      1. Archivist

        Other options

        Crossover Office works well on my Mac M1. I use it daily for a Windows (x86) only PCB app that I have been using for 25 years, so not ready to change.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      UTM does work on Apple silicon though.

  5. Tim99 Silver badge

    Microsoft Access?

    I've sometimes thought that MS Access was a bit of a red-headed stepchild, even at Microsoft. Anybody know if it will run on an M-Series Mac using MS Windows 11 Intel emulation?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Access?

      Access, and VBA, are looking like abaondonware at this point.

      MS Office does work on Windows for ARM, so I don't think there will be any problems. There might even be a native build available.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But does it work?

    I have moved on from Macs (phew!) that were a work-imposed business need, but the Mac product hasn't disappeared and other people still develop and support it.

    Parallels is an essential tool for R&D and QA, but not for Windows. Rather, we use it to run multiple versions of macOS in VMs, for testing and not to screw up the main workstation by accident. Unfortunately for my colleagues with newer M1 Macs (I have one as a test machine, but I run Parallels on a somewhat older Intel Macbook, and it's OK there) Parallels on M1, up to and including v17, simply does not work as a virtualization system is expected to work. You can create and run a VM, but you can't take a snapshot, can't clone, can't reconfigure an existing VM - the stuff that works on Intel. So it's basically unusable. This was the situation just a few days ago - the last time someone here tried, again.

    It certainly looks like Parallels (like Jamf and others) are chasing Apple's tail, and Apple don't care about the ecosystem at all. In fairness, Apple's target audience consists of freelance graphics designers rather than enterprises (or 3rd party software vendors who develop products for said enterprises), so from their PoV it makes sense.

    I certainly hope everything "just works" in Parallels v18. Some of my colleagues just might start breathing again.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agreed: virtual macOS on Apple silicon is a toy

    Well, you can clone, trivially: just duplicate the bundle in the macOS Finder. It's even a thin clone, thanks to APFS' copy-on-write. But you can't: as you said, take snapshots; bridge onto a network interface (so forget multicast, including Bonjour); attach USB peripherals; change virtual disk size; add virtual or physical disks; change number of cores; change memory size; control display characteristics to any extent; run more than two macOS VMs at once. (All with the latest Parallels, which is, it must be said, a slight improvement over the old in some respects.)

    Just for laffs, I've been able to run ten (small) macOS VMs at once on an iMac Pro that benchmarks half as well as my new Mac Studio.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But designed to lose your data !


    I've been a Parallels user for a looooong time, since it first came out in fact. But recently I found that it has a rather bizarre design decision built into it. If you never have a bad block affect one of your virtual disk images then you'll never see it - I hadn't until recently. If there's a read error on the host that affects the virtual disk, it doesn't manifest as a read error in the guest (meaning you could easily copy any non-affected files off the virtual disk). Instead they thought it made sense to offer two options, retry (yeah, like that's going to help), or nuke the guest.

    Tech support were ... useless. I had to explain (and demonstrate) to each new technician that no, it doesn't work to just copy the virtual disk to another disk. I also had to explain that the inability to pass a read error up the chain is not an inherent restriction in virtualisation. And I forget what other silliness I had to put up with.

    So instead of being able to recover any non-affected files off the guest using something like Carbon Copy Cloner, you either need to be exceedingly patient (rebooting the guest each time you hit a bad block) or just kiss your data goodbye.

    And a special thank you to Apple for obfuscating the SMART data to the point it tells you the disk (SSD) is absolutely fine (SMART data verified) right up until the machine hangs up because the SSD has gone into read-only mode as it's used up it's spare blocks allocation.

    So what is it with modern day software houses ? Doesn't anyone give a s**t about the user experience any more, or is it a case of "look at the ooh shiny, never mind if it f***s you over at the slightest fault" ?

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