Enhanced for the upcoming operating system releases from both Apple and Microsoft, virtualization software Parallels Desktop has been updated to version 9. In addition to adding support for OS X 10.9 Mavericks and Windows 8.1 (with the return of the Windows Start menu), Parallels Desktop 9 optimizes support for such cloud-based services as iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive so that files aren’t duplicated locally on your Mac and on your Windows virtual machine. It improves support for Full Screen mode and connecting an external monitor, with Parallels Desktop remembering the settings and shifting Windows to full screen on the connected monitor. The virtualization application also adds Power Nap capabilities to Windows and Windows apps (for those running a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with Retina display), support for accessing Thunderbolt and FireWire storage devices in Windows, gesture-based access to OS X’s Dictionary (via a three-finger tap) within Windows applications, and a PDF printer that enables you to save PDFs to the Mac desktop.
Purchase of Parallels Desktop 9 also brings a free six-month subscription to the recently announced Parallels Access service (normally priced as a $79.99 annual subscription), which provides remote access to any Mac or Windows application running on your desktop computer and frames it in an iPad-friendly user interface. The Parallels Access iOS app is available for free, and it’s compatible with the iPad 2 and later, as well as the iPad mini. ($79.99 new, $49.99 upgrade, $39.99 educational, 356 MB)