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Parallels increases prices with Desktop version 18

Running Windows apps on your M1 Mac just got a bit more expensive

Corel-owned Parallels has put out an update for its Windows-on-a-Mac Desktop product with a few neat new features and an eye-watering price.

We last looked at the wares of the virtualization veteran last August when version 17 came out, and came to the conclusion that if one wanted to run Windows applications on Apple's new chips, Parallels was an enticing prospect. Indeed, when compared to running Windows on Arm on native silicon, we found Microsoft's OS and native apps on a lowly M1 Mac Mini a snappy experience.

Fans of the company will be delighted to learn that, from a technological standpoint, everything is at least as rapid as before, but the updated pricing might sting a little.

As for the software, Parallels has continued to make tweaks for new versions of macOS. Windows applications will work seamlessly with the upcoming Stage Manager and Windows 11 is now fully supported (rather than the Insider approach required for earlier editions). And Windows will pick up the display refresh rate from the Mac. There is better compatibility with Intel apps running in Windows on Arm, specifically around saving to the disk of the Mac, and game controller connectivity has been improved for some reason. Additionally, USB 3.0 support has received some love.

It is also possible, with something like a Mac Studio, to assign more RAM and CPU cores to Windows in order to give Microsoft's OS a bit of a boot up the posterior. Up to 62GB of RAM and 18 CPU cores can be assigned to a VM in the Pro and Business editions of the software.

All of which brings us to the downside of the update. While the enhancements are all welcome, none are ground-breaking. The prices, however, are. For version 17, the Standard Edition retailed for $79.99. Pro and Business were $99.99 per year.

Version 18? Parallels wants $99.99 per year for the basic product, Pro will set you back $119.99 per year, and Business is $149.99 per year. Even an upgrade from a previous version is $69.99 (compared to $49.99 to get to version 17).

UK pricing follows a similar theme, with the basic edition going for £89.99 and the Pro version for £99.99 per year.

Parallels' pricing strategy seems risky. In response to a question from The Register concerning the hikes, a spokesperson said:

"Over the years, we have continued to innovate and bring to our users a first-class performance running Windows and other operating systems on the latest Apple hardware and software. This update will enable us to continue to innovate and provide an immersive experience so our users can work smarter and create without limitations, with greater freedom and flexibility.

"The new features in Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac have been engineered to enable users to be more productive while leveraging a high-performing Windows OS on a Mac, that is easy to use and stays up to date — even when a new Apple hardware or a macOS, Windows, or Linux version is released."

Version 18 ups the compatibility and adds a number of essential enterprise management tools – the ability to deploy, provision or transfer a Windows 11 virtual machine over an enterprise's Mac fleet will appeal to administrators facing requests for Apple hardware but stuck with that one weird corporate app that Accounting can't do without.

However, Parallels is not the only game in town (something like UTM springs to mind) and the price increases are not insubstantial.

Then again, if Apple's latest and greatest has you reaching for the credit card, a jump in the cost of Windows virtualization software is unlikely to worry you too much. ®

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