Parallels by Corel is one of the most popular apps to run Windows on a Mac, along with options like VMware Fusion and VirtualBox. Parallels Desktop has now released a new update, but if you don’t have the full access subscription, it’s probably not worth the upgrade fee.
Parallels Desktop 18 includes a new option to “download, install and configure Windows 11 with one click”. The previous version already had full support for Windows 11, but now you don’t need to search for the latest ISO file. This update is also “optimized” for the next macOS Ventura update, though Parallels 17 also supported Ventura (although some earlier beta versions of Ventura I had problems).
Game controller support has also been improved, which can be useful for anyone trying to play Windows-only games on Mac without resorting to a cloud streaming service, such as GeForce Now. Xbox and DualShock Bluetooth controllers can connect to Parallels, which in turn will forward button presses to the virtual machine. There are some other compatibility fixes, including fixes for accessing files from emulated x86 Windows software and improved USB 3.0 support.
Parallels already worked with M1 and M2 Mac computers, but Parallels 18 has new optimizations for the M1 Ultra chip found in the high-end Mac Studio. Windows 11 virtual machines on M1 Ultra are now “up to 96% faster” compared to Parallels 17, according to Corel’s own tests. That’s an impressive boost, but considering a Mac Studio with M1 Ultra costs a whopping $4,000, not many people will be able to test it.
Parallels Desktop is sold as a one-time purchase (Standard) for $99.99 or as a recurring subscription (Pro) for $119.99 per year. If you already own Parallels 17, there’s really nothing in this upgrade that’s mandatory, especially since the old version still works with macOS Ventura and Windows 11 and the upgrade costs $70. However, anyone who pays for the Pro subscription will get the new one. update for free.