Customer Request: You Should Make Parallels Desktop for iOS


“You should make a Parallels Desktop for iOS. I want to be able to run Windows on my iPad.”

As a product manager for Parallels Desktop® for Mac, I receive lots of suggestions from users about features they want to see in Parallels Desktop, as well as requests for Parallels Desktop to run on additional platforms, like Windows or the iPad®.

First of all, I want to assure you that I really like to receive these suggestions and requests. They tell me that lots of people like Parallels Desktop and that they have ideas to make it even better. They’re all looked at by the engineering and marketing teams here at Parallels—and they often are the inspiration for features that we explore for future versions.

A request that we often receive is for “Parallels Desktop for the iPad,” with the intended goal of running Windows on an iPad—or more specifically, to run Windows applications on an iPad.

Let’s differentiate between two cases: (1) actually running Windows and Windows applications on an iPad, and (2) appearing to run Windows and Windows applications on an iPad.

Case 1 requires the installation of Windows and Windows applications into a virtualization app on the iPad. In this case, you could run Excel for Windows on an iPad without using any network connection. I do not know of any virtualization app that would do this, nor have I heard of anyone trying to build such an app. Some have stated that even if such an app were built, Apple® would not allow it in the App Store. In addition, a Windows installation is about 10-20GB which would make such an iPad app reallylarge.

Case 2, on the other hand, requires an app that would show the Windows desktop on the iPad screen and would translate your touches and gestures on the iPad screen into commands that Windows understands. This app would then send those commands to Windows running on a remote computer—and then bring the Windows screen changes back to the iPad and show them on the iPad screen. There are iPad apps that do this, and I will show you two such apps in this blog post. Such apps require a network connection to this remote computer. Without this connection or without the remote computer, they can’t do very much.

Note: Be careful of what you find if you just search for “iPad virtualization app” or “run Windows on iPad.” When I did so, I found fake videos on YouTube, links to apps that run iOS on Windows PCs or the Mac—the opposite of what this blog post is about—and links to legitimate “Case 2” solutions.

Two solutions from Parallels: Parallels Access and Parallels RAS

There are two “Case 2” solutions from Parallels. While they look quite similar, who uses them and how they are set up differ quite a bit.

Parallels Access®

Parallels Access has an iPad app that enables you to remotely connect to Mac or PC devices that you own or control. Figure 1 shows using the Parallels Access iPad client to remotely access a Windows 10 virtual machine running in Parallels Desktop on my MacBook Pro®.

Parallels Access on iPad connecting to Windows 10 VM
Figure 1_Parallels Access on iPad connecting to Windows 10 VM

Video 1 shows this in operation.

When you install the Parallels Access agent on your Mac or PC, Parallels Access will remember how to navigate the firewall that protects both your iPad and your remote computers. I have successfully used Parallels Access to connect to my home iMac and my work iMac from many locations in the US and around the world. I have even used Parallels Access to connect to these two Mac when I was behind the Great Firewall while on a business trip to China.

When you install the Parallels Access agent on your Mac or PC, that computer can only be remotely accessed by you. If, instead, you would like to have a remote PC accessed by several people, read the next section about Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS).

Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS)

Parallels RAS has an iPad app “Client” that enables authorized users to connect to a remote Windows PC—either a PC in a Windows cloud–based server farm, or a Windows PC set up and maintained by your company’s IT team. Figure 2 shows me using an iPad to connect to a Windows Server 2016 DataCenter PC in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Parallels RAS on a large iPad-Pro
Figure 2_ Parallels RAS on a large iPad-Pro

Several other people also have access to this server. Parallels RAS does not provide for remote access to Macs or Linux PCs.

Read more about Parallels RAS and see videos of its use in my earlier blog post.

Feel free to download a free trial of Parallels Access or Parallels RAS to see how you achieve the effect of running Windows applications on your iPad. Please let us know in the comments how this works for you.

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