Despite all of Apple’s success over the last few decades, the Windows software ecosystem is undeniably larger. That’s particularly true if you’re a gamer. Many AAA titles never launch on Mac, and those that do often arrive late. Parallels just announced a new version of its Mac software that makes gaming performance better, so you might not have to wait for a buggy Mac port.
Until the early 2000s, using a Mac meant locking yourself away from the Windows software ecosystem. Apple’s PowerPC architecture ensured that any emulation or virtualization would be slow as molasses. Then, Apple switched to the Intel x86 architecture in 2006, and Parallels was ready a few months later with its Windows virtualization suite for OS X (as it was known at the time). Parallels lets you run Windows applications on macOS side-by-side with Mac apps, and the new v15 release marks the first major update in a few years.
In the latest build, Parallels Desktop 15 adds DirectX 11 support inside Windows applications and games. That’s thanks to the use of Apple Metal, a low-overhead 3D graphics API used on all Apple platforms. Parallels says the new version of its software can render 3D graphics 15 percent faster when they implement DX 11. Past versions of Parallels were a bit too sluggish for 3D games, but the promo video (below) shows the software running Overwatch reasonably well. You’d probably have to keep the graphics settings modest, but it’s better than not playing at all.
Parallels 15 includes support for the new Sidecar feature coming to macOS Catalina. With Sidecar, you can use an iPad as a secondary display on your Mac. Therefore, you will soon be able to run Windows programs (an even games) seamlessly on your iPad. You’ll just need a Mac computer nearby.
Parallels also claims the new version is 80 percent faster when opening Microsoft Office apps, and it works with many non-gaming applications the rely on 3D rendering like Autodesk 3ds Max. There’s also support for sharing files between the Mac and Windows sides in apps like Windows Mail, Safari, Photos, and other macOS apps.
Parallels desktop is available as a one-time purchase for $99.99, but some of the features are locked behind the Pro and Business subscription. That’s $99 per year. If you have an older version of Parallels, you’ll need to buy the new version, but the upgrade price is a bit more reasonable at $49.99.