Lest you think I am going to go on gushing about how great Parallels for Mac is, I hate to burst your bubble. Certainly it is true I think in the virtualization market for OS X the product is unbeatable. And, everything is relative. In this entry I am going to point out a few of my frustrations.
Let me begin with Parallels costs cash. Certainly not a lot of money. Sales and rebates can make parallels effectively an almost 0 cost proposition. And even at full retail the utility software is an amazing value. Of course it is not without its competitors. If you are new to the virtualization game and highly cash-strapped I would recommend starting with Virtual Box from Oracle over Parallels.
I have been with Parallels on a daily basis for a year now and honestly feel it is your best choice. This of course begets the question why would I bring up Virtual Box? One word: F.R.E.E. Of course nothing is really free since everything cost you time. And ironically, if you are new to the virtualization game, this is exactly why you should start with Virtual Box. Here’s the deal…
Parallels has a strong competitor with VMware. Certain IT shops will have a good reason to pick VMware over Parallels. That is a decision I cannot make for you in a single article. What I can point out is the logical structuring of how your virtualized machines are stored in a VMware environment versus a Parallels environment is completely different and not compatible to each other.
This is why I say if you are starting, go with Virtual Box. Is not as efficient as either of its competitors. It does not have the same feature set as its two commercial competitors.
However your investment of time (no money) in learning virtualization using Virtual Box does give you one golden parachute as you decide to land on either the decks of VMware or Parallels. Virtual Box stores your virtualized machines in an XML format. You have the ability to move forward with either of the commercial competitors and take your hard-earned learning with you.
While I suspect some of you may be just fine with how Virtual Box works for you, it is a safe bet that you will eventually wind up longing for features and/or performance of one of its two commercial competitors.
I must admit that both products are worthy adversaries to each other. One of the things I like about Parallels for Mac is how easy they make it to install a new virtual machine. Just about a year ago I started experimenting with Windows 8, now in Customer Preview Release. The firm made it very easy to be brave and install test versions without melting down my machine and my life.
The same can be said for the Linux Ubuntu.
I have noticed how aggressive they are in keeping me patched and updated. I really have only two minor complaints. For some reason Windows 8 Customer Preview will not grab a hold timeclock from OS X Lion. It constantly believes it is about six days ahead of the real-time clock. Both the date and the time of day are incorrect. I manually adjust, and it keeps wanting to go back to the future. In all fairness, looking at how Ubuntu works, this appears to be a Windows issue.
My other point is I have a full duplex audio analog to USB sound adapter. It properly registers in devices on the menu bar. While I tell Parallels repeatedly to remember my choice to make this available in Windows, it has a tendency to forget my preference.
Enterprise IT shops may be better suited down the VMware competitor if they already are using VMware on Windows machines. No reason to relearn. Individuals on OS X can get their feet wet with Virtual Box without losing their hard-earned education and go either way. Individuals that know the OS X world and need something from the MS world ultimately will be happy with Parallels and it’s wonderful Coherence mode. That however, is another story.