parallels.jpgParallels Desktop, software that lets Intel-based Mac users run Windows applications, is set to release version 3.0 Wednesday, and is significant because it integrates with the filesystem and allows Windows to be run alongside Mac OS. Web developers are excited because Parallels allows them to test sites side-by-side using different browsers and different operating systems, a task that required multiple computers in the past.

(See video here for Quake4 running in Parallel Desktop 3.0 — RSS readers will have to go to site.)

Unlike Apple’s Boot Camp, Parallels does not require users to reboot their computer.

The first major feature of Parallels 3.0, SmartSelect, is the most compelling. SmartSelect allows users to open files with either operating system. For example, Microsoft Word for Windows can be set as the default program for .doc files. Then, when a user opens a .doc file in either operating system, SmartSelect insures Word for Windows handles the document.

SmartSelect allows the transition from Mac to Windows to happen in the background, simplifying the process. Ben Rudolph, Parallels’ Director of Corporate Communications, describes SmartSelect as “total OS integration on a file and application level.”

Other major features include support for 3D graphics (notable for Mac gamers) and Snapshots. Snapshots is similar to Windows’ System Restore feature. Parallels users can use Snapshots to return to a previous state after errors.

Parallels is a competitor to Apple’s Boot Camp which also allows users to run Windows applications. If you hurry, current users can receive 20 percent off the upgrade price before June 6.