While there's other options on the market, such as VMWare and the previously mentioned Bootcamp which ships for free with every Mac, Parallels provides the most complete Windows experience on a Mac, seamlessly integrating the operating system with OS X. When using Parallels, unlike other alternatives, there's a real sense of the two or more operating systems you choose to run feeling integrated, and working together.
Installation is about as easy as it could get. Fire up your Mac, insert the CD and you're away. Parallels has worked hard to ensure the setup process runs as smoothly as possible '” and by our experience, smooth it is. It took just over half an hour to completely install and configure Parallels on our Macbook Pro, and there were no problems whatsoever along the way.
When you first run Parallels on your Mac, you'll get the option to enter what's called 'Coherence mode'. Coherence mode is where the real power of Parallels is demonstrated. The mode allows you to run Windows 7 programs side-by-side with Mac programs, doing so in what appears to be as native a manner as possible. Of course Windows programs are still going to act like Windows programs, but they run as though they've been installed in your Mac operating system as opposed to being in a Windows installation. Brilliant and clever '” not to mention simple and easy enough to understand. Windows 7 support is available, but XP and Vista work just as well.
On that Windows 7 support, while on the whole most features work well, some apparent issues remain such as jumplist support. While it appears to work for a number of Windows 7 apps, others, such as MYOB, refused to work for us at all. The only solution we found was to switch back to fullscreen Windows 7 mode, which can be undertaken easily but is a pain nevertheless.