A new version of Mac-based virtualization software Parallels Desktop was released today. Parallels Desktop 14 offers disk space efficiency improvements, faster application-launch speeds, macOS Mojave support, expanded Touch Bar support, better OpenGL graphics performance, and several other improvements.
Most people who use Parallels use it to run Windows within macOS, and the updates focus on that by improving performance and adding new features to make the two operating systems work more seamlessly together.
The key feature the Parallels team is pushing for this release is storage optimization. Virtual machines can take up a lot of space, and that can be a problem when you're working with limited solid-state storage in modern MacBooks. This release claims to free up significant disk space in most (but not all) cases—up to 20GB in some situations. There's also a "Free Up Disk Space" feature that will, in some cases, make it easier to pinpoint where you can achieve some savings. Some of the general space savings come from more efficient compression for states saved with the Snapshots feature.
Parallels Desktop 14 also brings improved graphics performance in certain Windows applications, using the multi-platform OpenGL graphics API. Of course, Apple announced at its developer conference in June that OpenGL will be deprecated in macOS, with Apple's own Metal graphics API the only supported path forward. When we asked a Parallels developer about this, he told us that OpenGL still works for the immediately foreseeable future but that the Parallels team is working on future solutions involving Metal.
Last year, Parallels added Touch Bar support for Windows applications. That is greatly expanded in Parallels Desktop 14. New applications are now supported out of the box, including:
- Microsoft Visio and OneNote
- Visual Studio
Parallels includes a tool for creating custom Touch Bar layouts for Windows applications that are not already supported; this release makes that particularly powerful with with an XML authoring feature.
Other features include shared camera support for cameras with up to 4K resolution, Microsoft Ink support for Microsft Office with pressure-sensitivity support in some applications, faster boot times and application launch speeds, faster suspend operations on APFS partitions, significantly improved performance on the iMac Pro with AVX-512, and small UX improvements like progress bars in the dock for Windows applications.
Parallels Desktop 14 is available now with an annual subscription starting at $79.99 or a perpetual license at $99.99. The Pro and Business editions will set you back a bit more though—$99.99 per year.