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Parallels Desktop makes virtualizing Windows on a Mac easy

Plenty of companies use a mix of Windows and Mac computers. IT administrators can use Parallels Desktop Business Edition to provide employees with access to Windows on any computer.

Employees using Mac computers might still need to access Windows applications, and Parallels Desktop for Mac Business...

Edition gives IT a way to provide those apps using virtualization.

Parallels Desktop allows users to run Windows on a Mac as a guest operating system alongside the Mac OS with the smooth interoperability workers are looking for. The enterprise version, Parallels Desktop Business Edition, includes centralized administration for IT admins and allows them to configure and manage VM settings. The latest release, Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac is compatible with Windows 10, which means users can run the Cortana digital assistant on a Mac.

To get started, admins install Parallels Desktop locally on a Mac, and it provides a virtual environment in which they can deploy Windows-based virtual machines (VMs). But the real benefit of using a product such as Parallels Desktop for Mac isn't the way it separates the two environments, it's how it allows them to work together. Let's explore a few ways Parallels Desktop improves Mac and Windows interoperability for users and IT.

Application mode and launch options

Parallels Desktop makes file management across environments as seamless as possible.

Running virtualized Windows applications on a Mac with Parallels Desktop is great for users because of its ease of use, flexibility and integrated features. For example, users can choose from different modes for working with the Windows applications. If they want the Windows apps to blend in with their Mac apps, they can use Coherence mode, which gives the sense of working in a single OS. If users want to run the apps in their own environment, they can use Window mode to create a separate workspace. Parallels Desktop also offers Full Screen mode to provide a complete Windows experience and a Modality mode for simply monitoring a running Windows application.

There are also a number of options for launching a Windows program. In addition to the typical methods within Windows such the Start menu, Parallel Desktop allows users to  launch Windows apps from within the Mac OS environment, including from Finder, the Dock, Launchpad or through Spotlight search.

File sharing between Windows and Mac environments

Parallels Desktop also makes file management across environments as seamless as possible. Users can drag files from Windows Explorer to Finder and from Finder to Windows Explorer. They can also open Windows files from within Mac apps or vice versa. Additionally, users can navigate the Mac folder hierarchy from within Windows or the Windows folder hierarchy from within Mac. They can set certain file types on the Mac to open in a Windows program, or set other file types within the VM to open in a Mac program.

Users can also copy and paste text between the two environments, including special characters or applied formatting such as italics, underline or bold. In some applications, cut-and-paste operations can also preserve font type, size and color.

In addition, Parallels Desktop makes working with external hardware devices in the VM a straightforward and often automatic process. For example, users can print documents to the same printer set up for the Mac without having to modify settings, or they can set up a different printer specifically for the Windows environment. Administrators can also configure the VM to automatically mount storage devices connected through Mac OS, including USB flash drives or CD/DVD drives. If users connect a device that can only interact with one environment at a time, such as an iPhone, they're prompted to select which environment to use.

Admins that want more control over content sharing can configure the VM to prevent file and app sharing or the ability to copy or move objects between environments.

Networking flexibility

Parallels Desktop supports different networking scenarios, but the most common approach is for the VM to use the Mac's connection for network access. Under that setup, a user can connect the Mac to a secure Wi-Fi network, establish a virtual private network connection with the corporate network, and then, for example, connect to secure resources from within the Windows environment.

Another option is bridged networking, which assigns the VM a different IP address than the Mac and makes it appear as a separate computer on the network. Or an organization could set up the VM for host-only networking, in which Windows can access the Mac host but no outside resources.

Parallels Desktop provides a fluid experience for its users, but also for administrators. IT can centrally configure, deploy and manage the underlying VMs that deliver Windows apps to Macs. Parallels Desktop even includes a software developer's kit for IT shops with the hands-on deck to further customize it.

Next Steps

How to set up Parallels Desktop Business Edition

Parallels Access brings remote desktops to iOS

How to use Parallels Management Suite for SCCM

Parallels acquires app publishing company

This was last published in October 2015

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What would influence your organization to run Windows on a Mac?
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A frontal lobotomy.
Why pay twice as much for the hardware, peripherals and struggle with a lack of decent software support when there are perfectly good pcs there to be purchased.
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