Parallels Desktop is not free, but by visiting the Parallels Desktop trial page, you can download it with a 14-day free trial that gives you access to the full set of features so you can try before you buy.
Parallels Desktop is one of the easiest ways to run Windows on a Mac. It works on everything from Apple Silicon models with the M1 or M2 chip to older Intel Macs, plus the setup process is simple. So, are there free or discounted versions of Parallels Desktop available?
Is Parallels Desktop free?
Parallels Desktop for Mac is a premium application, which means that the full version is not available for free. The standard version of Parallels Desktop 18 starts at $99.99 for the Home and Student Edition, which is a one-time payment that gives you access to 8 GB of VRAM, 4 virtual CPUs, and 30 days of email and phone support. electronic.
You can also purchase the Pro Edition of Parallels Desktop for $119 per year, which increases VRAM to 128 GB and virtual CPU count to 32 along with other nice extras like a Virtual Studio plugin, advanced networking tools, better ranking for your VM and 24 /7 phone and email support. Beyond this, there’s a Business edition for $149.99 per year that adds features aimed at business users.
You can compare these editions on the Parallels Desktop website. All versions of Parallels Desktop allow you to install and run Windows, Linux, and macOS as long as your underlying hardware is supported. Mac users with an Apple Silicon machine can download and install Windows 11 on ARM from Parallels Desktop.
Parallels offers discounts for students and educators with a 50% price reduction on the Standard and Pro editions. You will need to verify that you are a student before you can claim the discount. This discount is only available on a Parallels Desktop subscription, there is no one-time half-price purchase for the standard edition.
Parallels also offers discounts for active military, government employees, and employees of charities and non-profit organizations.
RELATED: The best discounts and technological offers for university students
How to Download Parallels Desktop for Free (14-Day Trial)
Download Parallels Desktop for free from the Parallels Desktop trial page. During installation, you will be prompted to activate Parallels Desktop, at which point you can click the “Try 14 days free” button at the bottom of the window to delay payment.
This gives you two weeks to test the software. You can download and install various operating systems (including Windows), optimize virtual machines for gaming or other tasks, or manually adjust virtual hardware configurations and install any software you want to make sure your application does everything you expect.
Once the 14 days are up, the app will notify you that the trial period has ended and allow you to upgrade from a trial version to the full version. You will be able to keep any virtual machines you have created once you upgrade. Alternatively, you can uninstall Parallels Desktop as you would any other Mac application to reclaim space.
The best free alternatives to Parallels Desktop
Parallels Desktop isn’t the only virtual machine app for Mac, but it’s one of the easiest to use. When you buy Parallels, you’re paying for a smooth setup process, superior 3D acceleration within your virtual machines, and overall ease of use that other virtualization applications forego.
VMware Fusion is now compatible with Windows on Apple Silicon Mac models, with a free version called VMware Fusion Player available for non-commercial use. This allows you to run Windows on your Mac just like Parallels Desktop, although the setup process is much more convenient and requires some work on your part.
Another option is Oracle’s free virtual machine software, VirtualBox. The app was updated in late 2022 to add support for Apple Silicon chips, though at the time of writing this functionality is still limited to the developer preview build.
Alternatively, don’t run Windows at all
There are other options for running Windows apps on your Mac that don’t involve a virtual machine. These include using Wine through the Wineskin Winery app or using a premium wrapper app called CrossOver.
Don’t forget that running Windows in a virtual machine still technically requires a Windows license, even for the ARM version of Windows 11. You can install and use Windows 11 without a license as long as you’re happy with Microsoft retaining some features and I’m bugging you to that you activate it