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An Appleinsider article on Digg claims that “Parallel, Inc. is preparing to make a quantum leap in the art of Windows virtualization software for Mac with [a] new version of its Parallels Desktop software that introduce a refined user interface and greater support [for] Apple Computer’s Boot Camp software. Graphics performance increases of up to 50%, seamless drag-and-drop, tons more features!”

This is exciting news. The ability to run your Parallels software together with your Boot Camp partition is the most interesting new feature. Power users will no longer need to keep two Windows installations – one for rebooting into Windows and one for running in OS X – and can save some much needed hard drive space.

Unfortunately the most important thing has still been left out: support for OpenGL and DirectX. I believe that the main reason owners of the Parallels software still might run Boot Camp on occasion is because they use 3D software or games. Of course, even with some good 3D support in Parallels, hard core game players might still be inclined to use Boot Camp to get every drop of performance out of their machine, since Parallels only virtualizes one processor core. But for most users – those who are not hardcore – basic last generation 3D support would be enough to alleviate the need for the dreaded Windows reboot.

From a technical point of view it might be ‘tricky’ to do 3D graphics since a lot of those unruly games expect to be able to bang the metal, and take control of the whole graphics card. But most 3D games on the Windows platform can somehow run in a Window as well as fullscreen, meaning they must already have some means for sharing the hardware. A good driver pretending to be a 3D card should be able to accept OpenGL commands, and then simply turn around and give them to the OpenGL drivers in OS X for execution. On the OS X side the OpenGL environment would be set up to draw into a hidden frame buffer which then is copied right back into the virtual environment.

Either way, I use Parallels on an almost daily basis on my Mac. It comes in very handy when I need to run Internet Explorer to check what kind of damage Explorer does to the rendering of our websites. :)

See the Digg article. | Digg story

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