Parallels Desktop 8 has been made available for public purchase, offering faster graphics and improved startup and resume times over previous versions. If you need to run Windows or any other operating system on your Mac, then while dual booting is arguably the fastest and most stable option for executing code, another approach that perhaps has more utility is virtualization, where you can open a window to the hardware on your system and allow a second operating system to run simultaneously.
In the past week, the developers for the top two commercial virtualization programs for OS X (VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop) have announced new version upgrades that promote faster graphics, better integration into OS X, and quicker boot and resume times for guest operating systems (especially Windows). These features are similar to advancements made in prior versions of the programs, to increase compatibility and speed in order to offer users a more seamless experience with secondary operating systems and do so better than the competition.
Both VMWare Fusion 5 and Parallels Desktop 8 were; however, VMWare Fusion beat Parallels Desktop to the punch by making its latest version available a week before Parallels was set to release its software upgrade. In response, Parallels made the upgrade available to existing customers within a couple of days, but has stuck to its original September 4 release date for new customers.
Now Parallels Desktop 8 is officially available to everyone, and can be purchased from Parallels for $79 for new customers, $39.99 for students, and $49.99 as an upgrade for existing customers. As with prior versions, Parallels Desktop has a free trial that you can use for a month before purchasing a license.
If you use OS X but need to run Windows for its various services and program options, Linux and Unix variants, or even another instance of OS X for testing purposes, then you can do so using VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop. These programs have been invaluable options for OS X users, and can greatly enhance your Mac's capabilities if your workflow regularly includes services and features of multiple operating systems.