Parallels starts selling Windows 7 upgrade tool

The software maker said it is ready with a program that puts virtualization to a new use--easing the transition to Windows 7 from older versions of the operating system.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
3 min read

Parallels said it is ready to start selling a program that uses virtualization to help ease the migration to Windows 7 from older versions of the operating system.

The company's $50 software uses virtualization to help consumers migrate from an older version of Windows to Windows 7. Parallels

The company, which is best known for software that lets Windows run on a Mac, has been working on a tool to ease the move to Windows 7 from earlier versions of the operating system--a move first reported by CNET.

The new software, dubbed Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7, will be available from Amazon and Parallels almost immediately and will hit store shelves on May 31, Parallels announced on Wednesday. It will sell for a suggested price of $49.99, including a high-speed USB transfer cable, or $39.99 without the cable.

Kim Johnston, Parallels' vice president of consumer and small business marketing, said that the software is an ideal tool to safely move to Windows 7.

"Ninety percent of customers haven't upgraded yet," Johnston said. "This is a perfect solution for them."

The product would appear to remove several key hassles. Moving to Windows 7 from XP or even some versions of Vista requires a complicated clean installation, ordinarily requiring users to back up and restore their data and then reinstall all of their programs. Also, some programs designed to run in Windows XP won't run in Windows 7, a problem that Parallels elegantly solves by running a virtualized copy of the older operating system.

The problem, however, is that this latter technique may raise legal issues for those who use it.

The Parallels product is designed to move any version of Windows XP or Vista to any version of Windows 7 and run the older operating system inside a virtual machine that is largely invisible to the person using the software. However, in many cases the user is not properly licensed to be running both copies of Windows.

The license terms that accompany the typical upgrade version of Windows 7 don't allow a user to keep using their old copy of XP in a virtual machine. Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate do include a virtualized copy of XP, but only for use with Microsoft's own XP mode. Users who buy a full, rather than upgrade copy of the OS would appear to be properly licensed, though those copies can cost several hundred dollars.

For its part, Parallels said the burden is on the user to make sure they are properly licensed.

"We remind the customer to check the status of all of their third-party licenses," Johnston said. "We just have no way of knowing what their software and hardware licensing is."

So far, Microsoft hasn't commented on the licensing issues surrounding Parallels product, although Johnston points out that the software was formally announced at a Microsoft event in Paris, in which the company was specifically invited to speak.

"We collaborate with Microsoft a lot and they are a great strategic partner," she said.

Update, 1:10 p.m. May 19: Microsoft says it is in discussions with Parallels.

"We are talking with Parallels about this issue, but have nothing further to share at this time," Microsoft said in a statement.

(For the record, I have been raising this issue with both companies since Parallels first outlined its plans for the product.)