Parallels has canned its existing solutions for the iPad, in favor of a new, app-ified experience, but with a more expensive subscription plan. Will improved speed and flexibility outweigh the added cost?
Topping the Desktop Experience
Parallels has earned a lot of love from Apple users, helping bring Windows applications to the Mac desktop with increasing refinement over the years. The company has continued that effort, moving the focus to tablets with Parallels Mobile in recent years. Launching alongside Parallels Desktop 9, Access is the new way to run your desktop from your iPad.
The new Parallels Access, an all new app, client and service combine to convert the programs on your desktop to "app" form. It comes with a lot of sticker shock, a hefty subscription of $79.99 per desktop machine per year. Install the client on the desktop, add the app to your iPad (perhaps your shiny new iPad 5?) and create your account and you're good to go.
Rather than just mimic the desktop, Parallels does some trickery to make each program on your PC an app within Access, allowing you to switch between desktop apps as if they were "on" your iPad. That's fine for what it does, but the expense up from the $20 one time cost of Parallels Mobile up to $80 per connected machine, after the two-week free trial is pushing user loyalty to the extreme.
Remote Access Anywhere
While Parallels used to be the king of the Mac/Windows world, there have been plenty of changes in recent years that mean there are plenty of alternatives and competition. For a start, many users happily access their documents or services via the web browser. Then there are plenty of other desktop handing services to use, and finally, even products from the likes of VMWare and indie solutions like VirtualBox can be used by home or small business users.
On the plus side, Parallels Desktop 9 is a souped up version of what users love and know, with improved speed, the ability to run multiple versions of Windows alongside each other. Quite cheekily, Windows 8 users will find a usable Start button on their desktops, putting Mac users one ahead of PC hardware users. It also works well with the cloud, where more content is stored on those ever-growing free offerings, making it easy to work with iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
It might take some time for the Parallels developers to explain their pricing, perhaps an enterprise focus is at play here, and reductions may swiftly follow if users don't buy it. However, it is one of the more noticeable examples of prices going up, against a tide of reducing to free or cheap subscriptions in the cloud era.
With early comments suggesting that Parallels Access is innovative but not all that brilliant in use, we suggest taking the trial period to give it a thorough evaluation before putting down for a subscription.