mac-pcParallels is one of those little companies that could make some big companies very nervous. The Renton, Wash.-based software maker is launching its Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac today.

The software enables an Apple Mac computer to run Windows applications in a seamless environment. Not only can you switch screens from the Mac OS to Windows, you can also use Windows applications alongside Mac apps.

This convenience is why Parallels Desktop has more than two million users who run Windows, Linux and other operating systems side by side with the Mac OS X. It’s called desktop virtualization, and it should make companies like Microsoft nervous because it minimizes the importance of any given operating system.

Microsoft has to worry because more users are switching to Macs than ever before. Parallels itself makes Parallels Desktop 4.0 Switch to Mac Edition software so that you can make the transition with ease. Software such as Parallels Desktop takes the pain out of making such a switch, since you don’t have to throw out your old Windows software.

parallelsThis new Desktop 5 for Mac software is compatible with Windows 7 applications. It runs software 22 percent faster than the nearest Windows on Mac rival, Fusion 3 from VMware, according to testing by Crimson Consulting Group. Version 5 is also 300 percent faster in virtual machine operations than its previous version. On 3-D graphics applications, the new version is seven times faster.

The idea is to let people choose the best and fastest application, regardless of which operating system it runs on, said Serguei Beloussov, chief executive of Parallels. The new version has 70 new features that give users more flexibility and convenience. The user can choose how much or little of the Windows interface they want to see. You can run Windows in full screen mode or switch to the Crystal view mode, which makes Windows completely disappear into the Mac interface. Users can even get Mac-like experiences in Windows apps, such as using Apple’s trackpad gestures to pinch or swipe and rotate within an app, said Stefan Prestele, senior director of consumer marketing at Parallels.

Parallels Desktop 5 has full support for special effects in Windows 7, such as Aero Flip 3D, which lets you see files as if you were spinning a rolodex. You can also copy and paste text or images from one Windows application to one for the Mac. Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is available in six languages and sells for $79.99 in stores. Existing users can upgrade for $49.99. Those who purchased version 4.0 after Oct. 1 can get a free upgrade.

Parallels was founded in 1999 and has more than 700 employees.parallels 2

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