Customer Request: You Should Make Parallels Desktop for Windows!

“You should make a Parallels Desktop for Windows.”

I have received this suggestion many, many times.

The short answer is, “I have done that. Several times.”

The long answer is I have been involved with three different efforts to create a virtualization product for Windows desktops: Connectix Virtual PC for Windows, Microsoft Virtual PC (also known as Windows Virtual PC), and Parallels Workstation for Windows (also known as Parallels Workstation Extreme). See Figure 1.

desktop virtualization apps for Windows
Figure 1_Some desktop virtualization apps for Windows

All of these products worked well and did exactly what you would expect a desktop virtualization app to do: run another operating system (OS) in a window on your computer. They all had the integration features you would expect: drag and drop from one OS to another, run applications in the virtualized OS, use the network connection of your computer to give the virtualized OS a network connection, and more.

And these products all had their fans. One particular example is rather interesting. I gave a demo of Connectix Virtual PC for Windows to Henry Norr, then a technology columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. At the beginning of the meeting, Norr said, “I only took this meeting because of your reputation, but I have to tell you that the idea of a Virtual PC for Windows is one of the silliest ideas I have ever heard. Who would want such a product?”

I gave Henry a demo of the basics of Connectix Virtual PC for Windows, and everything worked well—but he was not at all impressed. Then I gave a demo of the Undo Drives feature. (See sidebar on Undo Drives, a feature that is in today’s Parallels Desktop® for Mac, as well as the three products mentioned at the beginning of this blog post.)

Sidebar: Undo Drives

Undo Drives is an advanced feature of most desktop virtualization products. Turn on Undo Drives, and then do anything you want in the system. Install applications, add files, get a virus by visiting a dodgy website, delete a file, uninstall an application, change any system preferences you want—even over several days of use. Then push the “Undo” button, and it’s as if none of these things ever happened. The Undo Drives tool is even more powerful than Windows Restore Points because restore points can fail. Undo Drives never fail.

Henry immediately saw how Undo Drives would be a great feature for any technology columnist. “I always worry when I install a beta of something on my system, and a few times that beta software has really messed up my system. Undo Drives would take that worry away completely.” Henry installed and used Connectix Virtual PC for Windows and wrote a very favorable review of the product.

However, these fans did not translate into significant sales for Connectix Virtual PC for Windows, Microsoft Virtual PC, and Parallels Workstation for Windows. Eventually, these products were all cancelled.

“But with a Parallels Desktop for Windows, I could run macOS on my PC!”

Well, no, you couldn’t—at least not legally. The macOS® end user license agreement does not allow macOS to be run on non-Apple® hardware. If my many years in the software industry have taught me anything, it’s that you never want the Apple lawyers mad at you. (Or the Microsoft lawyers either, but that’s another story.)

“Maybe a virtualization app for Windows makes sense, but you messed up each time. Maybe you are a software jinx.”

OK, I left myself open on that one.

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