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Upgrading to Parallels Desktop 3.0

Glaskowsky upgrades his MacBook Pro's Parallels Desktop software to version 3.0.

When I got this MacBook Pro (MBP), with its 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, back in November, one of the reasons for upgrading was the availability of Parallels Desktop 2.5. The Parallels software runs Microsoft's Windows XP or Vista in a virtual-machine environment. You get the Windows desktop in a window on your Mac desktop, so both environments are available at the same time. The Windows hard disk can be created as a file in your Mac filesystem, so you don't waste much disk space.

There's also Apple's own Boot Camp, which lets you boot into Mac OS X or Windows, but not both. Windows installs in its own partition, so you have to set aside as much disk space as you think you'll ever use in Windows. The biggest Boot Camp advantage is that with Windows in full control of the machine, it has access to the MBP's AMD Radeon X1600 3D graphics chip. In Parallels 2.5, Windows thinks it's using a simple-minded 2D graphics chip.

When I got the machine, I set up both Parallels and Boot Camp just to give them a try. Yes, I had two complete copies of Windows XP installed on my Mac. Both setups worked well enough for me-- mostly because I don't tend to play Mac or PC games-- so I decided to wipe out the Boot Camp partition and just use the Parallels configuration.

But last month, Parallels released version 3.0 of the Desktop software, which added some really good features, including 3D graphics support, Vista support, free-floating Vista application windows on the Mac desktop, and the ability to share the Boot Camp partition. But by the time Parallels Desktop 3.0 shipped, I no longer had enough free space on my hard drive to recreate the Boot Camp partition.

So when I upgraded my hard disk last weekend, I set aside some free space and planned to upgrade to Parallels 3.0 and install Vista on a Boot Camp partition.

After about three hours of effort Tuesday evening, I'm up and running. Setting aside the free space when I partitioned the new drive turned out to be counterproductive. Apple's Boot Camp Assistant software had no idea what to do with it. I had to use Apple's diskutil program from the command line to expand my Mac OS X partition to use the whole drive, then use Boot Camp Assistant to split off the new Vista partition.

After that, it was just a matter of using Boot Camp to install and configure Vista, then rebooting into Mac OS X to tell Parallels that the Vista partition was available. I ran into no major problems, just a few minor glitches that were easily solved. Yesterday I installed Office 2007 and Visio. Everything's working great. Highly recommended!