The next iteration of the popular virtualization software for the Mac: Parallels Desktop 12 is now available. I was invited for a demonstration of the software last week at a launch event in Singapore last week, and there was no doubt in my mind that Parallels Desktop remains the virtualization software to get for the Mac.

Indeed, this is especially so in the wake of VMware axing the US-based development team that worked on the competing VMware Fusion product. (Of course, VMware swears that it will continue to support and develop future versions, but how… ?)

Despite some heat being taken off, the Parallels team has worked hard to make their product even better. According to the company, Parallels Desktop 12 offers a 25% improvement in performance, with a smaller 10% improvement when it comes to battery life. Moreover, a variety of tweaks and new capabilities should no doubt make upgrading a lure for power users.

The most notable for day-to-day usage would probably be the ability of Parallels Desktop 12 to keep Windows ready in the background rather than having to suspend it. I haven’t tried this yet, but Parallels says this offers the nifty ability to instantly open Windows applications and documents.

Some other notable capabilities that caught my eye:

  • Ability to cancel time-consuming VM actions midstream (Clicked ‘Suspend’ by accident? No problem)
  • Schedule Windows updates at an appropriate time to avoid time-consuming disruptions
  • Improved Retina support for resizing Windows VMs (Very nice)
  • Set resource limits for VMs (Pro Edition only)
  • 90% faster Snapshot creation (That’s a lot faster!)
  • Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer passwords can now be stored in the Mac Keychain
  • Acronis True Image with 500GB of cloud backup storage is now bundled; comes with the touted ability to backup incremental changes to a VM

Finally, Parallels Desktop 12 will also come with a new Parallels Toolbox for Mac, which is a set of 20 tools designed to simplify everyday tasks on the Mac.

I don’t really think much of it, except perhaps the ability to record video of a screen or window, though Parallels is so confident of the Toolbox that it is selling it separately. Of course, the Toolbox comes free with Parallels Desktop 12, or you can  download a trial version directly here.