Parallels Desktop 13 (PD13) for Mac is the latest version of Parallels' virtualisation software that lets users run Windows on macOS.
PD13 supports Apple's latest macOS High Sierra, which should be arriving by next month. It also supports the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
For a start, Parallels has streamlined the Windows installation process. After installing PD13, it will automatically prompt you to install Windows 10. Just one more click and Windows 10, which you can purchase later, will be installed as a virtual machine (VM).
While most people buy PD13 to run Windows, you can also install other operating-system VMs such as Ubuntu Linux, Android or macOS High Sierra beta.
PD13 is said to offer up to 40 per cent faster USB device performance, as much as 50 per cent faster performance when working with Windows files in Windows VM, and up to 100 per cent faster external Thunderbolt solid-state drive performance.
However, I was not able to test these performance claims, as the previous PD12 was installed on my old 2012 MacBook Air. For this review, I installed PD13 along with a new Windows 10 VM on my 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro.
For me, the biggest feature of PD13 is the Touch Bar support for the Touch Bar MacBook Pro.
PRICE: US$79.99 (S$108)
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: A Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Intel Core M or Xeon processor, at least 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended), at least 850 MB of space available on the boot volume
SUPPORTED SOFTWARE: macOS High Sierra 10.13 (when available), macOS Sierra 10.12 or later, OS X El Capitan 10.11.5 or later, OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 or later
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
This is how it works: When a Windows 10 VM is launched, PD13 will automatically replicate the Windows Task Bar on the Macbook Pro's Touch Bar, displaying icons for pinned applications such as Cortana, File Explorer, Task View or Microsoft Edge.
In addition, when you launch Microsoft Edge Web browser, you will see Edge's Front/Back, Download and Refresh buttons duplicated on the Touch Bar. It is the same for Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
There is also a Touch Bar customisation tool that lets you change and move icons around, if the pre-defined controls are not to your liking.
The tool is really easy to use, as it is quite similar to what macOS offers. On the Windows VM top menu, go to View and click on Customize Touch Bar. If you are using Microsoft Edge, for instance, you will be presented with the default menu bar and other control icons at the bottom of the display. Just drag-and-drop the control icons you want to the Touch Bar.
This is really the killer feature as you can enjoy the benefits of the Touch Bar with Windows applications by just using PD13.
•Verdict: Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac continues to be the definitive virtualisation software for Mac users to run Windows on the computer - especially so if they are using Touch Bar MacBook Pros.