Dissing Parallels

I am decidedly unimpressed with Parallels 3.0. In fact, I would almost call it completely non-functional and a fraud except that I have been able to install Ubuntu 6.10. However, it’s completely unable to manage Windows 2000 as advertised. The install repeatedly and reproducibly hangs with a spinning beach ball of death. Sometimes I can’t even Force Quit parallels. Even kill -9 failed once, and I had to reboot to get rid of it. Installing Windows NT 4.0 got a little further and at least did not create a spinning beach ball of death. However it still failed:

Windows NT could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem

Furthermore, attempts to report these problems hit any number of bugs ranging from choosing the wrong e-mail program (not everyone uses Apple Mail) to server errors when I try to submit the bugs via their web site:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webadmin@parallels.com and inform them of the time the error occurred,
and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Apache/1.3.33 Server at backend.parallels.com Port 80

And that’s just the serious flaws. There are numerous other glitches and inconsistencies in both the program and their web site that tell me these folks really don’t understand the Mac: meaningless icons without any tooltips, cancel buttons that quit the application, and more. For instance, they refer to the “alt” key instead of the option key, and assume the hard drive is always named “Macintosh HD”. They also require a complicated 20-digit serial number that mixes zeroes and O’s and ones and I’s to install the program or get technical support. Worst of all, once you’ve installed the program, the serial number is not available anywhere obvious. You have to dig out the box to find it again.

I suppose I should just admire the dancing bear; but damn it, it dances so poorly! Parallels is clearly not even remotely an adequate replacement for a real Windows box, not even for occasional use of one or two programs. :-( I probably should have bought VMWare Fusion instead.


After the May 20, 2008 update, Build 5600, I can finally install Windows NT 4.0. Unfortunately, now I can’t find my Windows 2000 install disks. Did I leave them in New York? Parallels support never responded to me.

10 Responses to “Dissing Parallels”

  1. Stefan Tilkov Says:

    Interesting — it runs perfectly and without any flaws on three of my machines. It even has done so when it was still in beta.

  2. Tina Says:

    Interesting post, but I disagree
    1. Parallels works fine with all of the OSs that I have installed
    2. All of the Icons tell me what they do when I hover over them and if i have any questions amazingly like any other software it comes with a user guide…..
    3. Come on if you where smart enough to know how to rename your Macintosh HD than I assume and so does Parallels that you knew what it was by default.
    4. Most software puts the serial number inside the box if it was outside the box people would steal it and my zeros have slashes through them and my ones have flags.

  3. Jan Says:

    Try VirtualBox. Its free Xen based virtualization. I use it on my Ubuntu laptop. Ubuntu is my host system but Mac OSX can also be the host sytem if you like. http://www.virtualbox.org/

  4. Jan Says:

    Minor correction… VirtualBox != Xen
    But it is verry good and installs like a breeze. I used to have a dualboot system just for checking my web pages with MS Internet Exporer. Thanks to VirtualBox I can now check all my pages with all the crippled browsers Redmond produces IE 7.0, IE 6.0, IE 5.5 etc..

  5. DW Says:

    I’m having the exact same problem. I’m using a new MacBook (the black one) and trying to run Win2k. Sometimes the beach ball comes before I have a chance to even click the start button, sometimes it happens 20 minutes after the boot.

    Once the beach ball comes up, the processor slowly gets hotter and hotter, the fans start up, and sometimes the mouse goes away. I, too, am unable to force quit and have to do a hard restart.

    I’m really disappointed. Looks like it’ll be VMWare for me.

  6. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Those of you who claim it works perfectly: have you tried it with Windows NT or 2000? These are advertised as supported OS’s, but as near as I can tell that’s simply false.

  7. Mokka mit Schlag » VMWare Fusion Cheap Says:

    […] seen it anywhere else. I’ll probably grab a copy since the more expensive Parallels still isn’t working for me. « One Thing I Like About […]

  8. The Cafes » Setting Up My Home Office Says:

    […] Figure out why Parallels is non-functional. […]

  9. wiffy Says:

    I cannot get parallels to install either (macbook pro using 10.5) and after month’s free trial I have purchased VMware at the offer price thanks to finding your web. It works ok for what I need it.

    I also didn’t manage to email Parallels to see if they had any answers – I don’t use Apple Mail either! Error message parallels gave me was that SCSI Manager was not installed – not surprising in modern macs – and something called BOOTMGR was missing !!! I tried installing it at least 5 times, was forced to crash the machine every time as I couldn’t get out and finally downloaded a 40 day free trial of VM which installed with no probs whatsoever and worked from the word go. I did have a few freezing problems with some software I use but with Rollback no trouble at all.

  10. DW Says:

    I know this is old, but we’re now using Parallels 5 in a corporate environment and it crashes unexpectedly a lot. People say the Mac just works. But Parallels makes the whole Mac experience difficult.

Leave a Reply