parallels_3150.jpgIn an impressive feat of kicking-software-to-the-door timing, virtualization champ Parallels unleashes an update on steroids, mere days after Vista's release to the not-so-breathless public. The short 'n sweet of it is that those who'd still like a perfectly integrated Microsoft OS experience on their Macs, in tangent with OS X, need waste nary a week feeling stone-aged.Beta 3150 adds a few essentials to Parallels 3036: * Nifty new drag and drop functions * Functionality for CD and DVD burning in virtual machines * An improved Coherence mode with less lag and more bite - for those who don't know, Coherence enables users to run Windows in the OS X without having to switch desktops. This also means the dock icon can be used as a start menu * Resizable main window * 50% more speed * Support for use of a Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine * An updated look and feel that's simply better suited to OS X * Up to 5 virtual network interfaces * Full USB 2.0 support, as well as support via Transporter for VMware and Virtual PC virtual hard disk conversion to Parallels. That final point comes with a catch, though -- old beta users will have to upgrade their Transporter package on the Windows source machine before using it. Apparently forgetting this small detail will result in a system crash and potential loss of data. Parallels is sounding less beta every day. There are only a few small setbacks, weird Transporter stuff aside. To start with we hear 3150 doesn't always play nicely with Boot Camp, or at least causes a great deal of confusion. And DirectX isn't yet fully supported, which is sure to disappoint gamers the world over. Perhaps saddest of all, activation keys for the complete version are only available to US serial number holders. If you happen to inhabit the world outside, you can toy with the 30 day free trial, which is a ghetto little trick we've all had to turn at one point or another. They had to save something cool for their beta exit, right? If that ever happens, that is. Parallels looks like an increasingly savvier buy for Apple despite Apple's cosy relationship with Boot Camp. The biggest benefit to choosing Parallels over Boot Camp is that you don't have to restart your computer to access Windows - Microsoft-friendly applications simply float on your Apple OS in near-perfect integration. And that's some serious leverage. Parallels 3150 costs US$ 80 -- a whoppin' $5 less than the 3036. Read more about the Parallels update or download the free trial here: http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/beta_testing/.