How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

Guest blog by Manoj Kumar Suresh, Parallels Support Team

Windows 10 has been here for a year, and continues to be much better than Windows 8, period. (Right?!) 

Even better, Windows 10 is a free upgrade for most Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users, so it’s not surprising that many Windows users are upgrading—including users on virtual machines, of course! It’s very easy to install or upgrade to Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop. Let me walk you through the process.

Before We Get Started…

Before you can install Windows 10, please verify the following requirements in order for you to get the best experience on Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop:


Installing Windows 10 as a fresh installation

This is the most simple and straightforward way to get your hands on Windows 10. If you have prior experience installing any other operating system in Parallels Desktop, it’s going to be even easier.

Take the following steps to install Windows on your Mac using the .iso disc image file.

Step 1: Purchase and download Windows 10.

Windows 10 comes as a USB if you purchase it from the Microsoft Online Store or as an online download if you purchase elsewhere. Either way, we advise you to download the image directly from Microsoft.

Step 2: Create a new virtual machine.

If you have just installed Parallels Desktop, you should already be on this screen. Otherwise, click on Spotlight, type Parallels Desktop and click to launch it. It will bring up the following screen:

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

If you already have an existing VM, all you have to do is open Parallels Desktop and press the plus (+) sign at the top right corner of Control Center:

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

Click Install Windows or another OS from DVD or image file, then click Continue.

Step 3: Select the installation media.

The Parallels Wizard will detect the installation media automatically for installing Windows.

Step 4: Enter your Windows product key.

Click Continue. In the Windows Product Key window, leave Express installation selected.

Note: If Express installation is checked, Parallels Tools will be installed automatically after the Windows installation.

When you’re ready, click Continue.

Step 5: Select how you want to use Windows.

Select how you want to use Windows in Parallels Desktop:

And in Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro and Business Edition:

Step 6: Specify a name, location, and configuration.


You may specify a name for your VM or leave it at the default.


The default location for Parallels Desktop VMs is in the /Users/username/Documents/Parallels folder.

If you want other user accounts on your Mac to have access to this installation of Windows, select Share with other users of this Mac.


Change your VM settings by selecting Customize settings before installation and configure the VM as per the system requirements I mentioned earlier.

Step 7: Begin the installation.

Click Continue; from here, the Windows installation will begin. Once Windows is installed, launch it by opening a Windows application or by clicking the Power button in the Parallels Virtual Machines list.

There you go! You’ve got your all-new Windows 10 VM loaded and you’re ready to explore the endless possibilities of a brand-new OS.


Upgrading to Windows 10 from 8.1, 8, or 7

Let’s be honest here. The biggest reason behind us even considering this upgrade to Windows 10 is because…it’s free! We might have to sacrifice one or two simple but favorite features (especially if you’re upgrading from Windows 7), but still, who wouldn’t take a chance to get the latest version of Windows at no cost?

Before We Get Started…

Before upgrading, you must check the following steps to make sure that your upgrade to Windows 10 will proceed smoothly.

Upgrading Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to Windows 10 in a VM.

To upgrade your Windows VM to Windows 10, please follow the following steps:

 In my case, I’m downloading Windows 10 Pro version x64, but you may have a different edition and bit:

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

Even though you can click on Upgrade this computer now and continue, it’s better to download the ISO image from the link above. Once you do…

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

That’s it! Easy! We’ve just upgraded to Windows 10 in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine!


Wait! What if something goes wrong?

I hope you’re not reading this part, but if you are, hopefully you’re just a tech geek who wants to know how to fix things. Even if something went wrong with your Windows 10 installation or upgrade, it’s not over yet! Read on for a few helpful tips and tricks.

Scenario 1: “Something happened.”

Before the release of Windows 10, I’ve heard about this issue and just like everyone, I thought it was a hoax. But as I went through some upgrades, I realized it’s a real error message from the Windows side!

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

The reason for this happening most of the time is because Windows updates were not installed properly. So the first thing you should do is to check for Windows updates using this Microsoft Fix it tool and run the sfc /scannow command. This should help. If not, contact Microsoft—this issue could happen on real PCs, too.

Scenario 2: The “SAFE_OS” error.

This is a critical error, as there is no definite fix for this issue. This happens when the Windows files are corrupted, and we can try to repair them using sfc /scannow and different other options from Microsoft. Still, we can’t be absolutely sure that these steps will fix the issue. The only sure way to fix this issue is to reinstall a fresh copy of Windows and perform the upgrade from scratch.

How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11

Scenario 3: The Windows 10 activation issue.

This happens only if your previous Windows was not activated. So the best way to avoid this is to make sure that your Windows 7/8/8.1 is activated before initiating the upgrade process.


That’s it! You’ve just joined the ranks of Windows 10 users, which will bring a lot of surprising features like Cortana on your Mac and more. (Yes, you can use Cortana on your Mac now.) I hope you found this blog useful. Please share it with your friends, and don’t forget to follow Parallels Support on Twitter!

Interested in running Windows 10 on your Mac? Download Parallels Desktop for Mac for a free 14 day trial: Try Now. Want to install Windows 10 with one simple click? More info here.

12 comments on “How to Install Windows 10 in Parallels Desktop 11