Comment on Parallels Desktop for Mac

Bought version 3 in the recent MUPromo bundle, and am kind of regretting my purchase. I had trialled it a few months ago, but didn't give it a proper shakedown in CPU/graphics-intensive applications, and the performance on my 2.2ghz macbook turns out to be quite poor for most of the things I'd actually want to do with it (games, graphics apps, file-processing utilities). Windows itself behaves sluggishly, using both recommended and maximum memory settings - even dragging an explorer window around has noticeable redraw lag.

There's also significant problems using non-US Macbook keyboards with it. Parallels represents the keyboard to windows as a standard 101-key windows keyboard - but the layout of special characters (e.g. \, |, ", {}) can be very different on the Macbook keyboard. There seems to be no way to tell Windows to use a more appropriate keyboard driver either, as the bootcamp drivers don't match the phony hardware that Parallels presents to the VM. So you'd better have a really good memory of where the special characters are on a full-size 101-key keyboard in your chosen language.

There's quite a few interface niggles too. Parallels can't seem to figure out whether it's a windows app or a mac app - there's egregious OK/Cancel buttons in every dialog, and they even swap positions from window to window. You can't view the configuration settings of a VM without suspending it - and then actually viewing them will automatically shut down the VM from suspend mode, even if you don't modify any settings. Parallels will also let you allocate more memory to a VM than the total memory allocation limit, then refuse to start the VM until you change the total memory limit too. Who wrote a warning dialog for that without it occuring to them to warn the user sooner or just take care of it automatically? Meanwhile, there's a preferences pane for what type of animation to use for full-screen transitions, and even what speed to play the animation at.
For a Mac-only app that's up to version 3, I expected these kind of obvious design errors to have been fixed - it feels like nobody read the HIG.

I also trialled VMWare Fusion a while ago and, while it shares much of the same UI clunkiness, the performance was better in Windows itself and the configuration interface was at least less obstructive. I am looking forward to parallels 4, which I hope will bring better performance and a more mac-like UI sensibility. If it doesn't, then VMWare for me.