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Thursday, 22 April 2010


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I'd still be using Parallels if not for their awful, consumer-unfriendly Digital River delivery system. Wipe your harddrive? Sorry, that software you purchased is no longer available to you.

VirtualBox is the schizz/e for free! By schizz/e, I mean, virtualization is always a rather clunky and nerdy approach to things.

Heh. Join the club, we've got jackets.* :)

It varies wildly. Some companies are helpful to the max. Others ignore you completely. Third group will ignore you but will raise a stink if you write something unfavourable.

I had one company once that complained about something I wrote. A couple of years later, they fixed the very thing I objected to and announced that as an improvement. ;-)

(Although you've been a member for a long time and got your own jacket. :))

I reluctantly installed Boot Camp on my new iMac (just to run Zoo and Roller Coaster Tycoon for my son, honest!) The experience could not have been more pleasant.

In fact, another reason to go with Apple Products is that the Apple User Support groups are fantastic! I never need Apple "Official" support.

The problem in many companies is the whole 'right hand not knowing what the left is doing' thing. Sales might have been jazzed to put out review product, but never consulted with Support to ensure that their policies and staffing could handle it. And a lot of companies have a silo'd internal structure where, no matter who you talk to from the Sales side of the house, they have zero weight with the Dev or Support people unless you're a paying customer. Sometimes not even then. It's a ridiculous way to do business, but fairly common (not standard, just common) with software companies.

It's sad to hear that, since I'm a VMWare user since I switched to Mac, about 5 years ago... I'm still depending on many applications that need WIndows. I've used Fusion ever since I learned it existed, and it's always worked flawlessly and the performance, not being stellar is quite good. I suppose you installed VMWare Tools in the virtual machine, because you will have pedestrian performance otherwise... in case you have, it may be something hardware related (I guess)

I've been able to get a 3,5 score in a Windows 7 x64 running in a regular MacBook and it's because the little MacBook has an "average" card. All other scores are pretty high... most "native" machines I've seen don't reach that high.

Anyway... I may be wrong...

Wow! That's appalling!

I use Parallels on a Mac Mini to run Windows 7, and for the most part it installed flawlessly and everything runs well. Not like a rocket, but well enough for the 3 or 4 days a month that I need to work in a Windows environment.

My only complaints are that I find the Parallels support forums to be rather Byzantine. It's hard to find them, and when you make a post it's hard to find your way back to it later.

The other thing (and this is a constant problem in all computer environments) is the endless updates. Parallels likes to make it seem like you can just spark up Windows at the drop of a hat. So not.

What really happens is this: You start Parallels and are immediately urged to download the latest update. When you're done with that you start Windows. Then you get a big screen that says you need to update the Kaspersky security thing. That takes a couple of minutes. Then Windows starts and hey! You need to download the lastest Windows update!

Generally it takes about five full minutes to do all that. On one particular day last week it took 35 minutes before I could open my Windows application!

Not a problem specific to Parallels, but it does show that the "fast and seamless" thing is a bit of a myth.

I sometimes wonder if I should have gone with VMWare, as more people I know have taken that route. I'll be sure to check that comparison you linked to.

I would say you gave them more than all of your patience, and more than a sufficient number of opportunities to establish good customer (and reviewer) relations.

I am disappointed to hear your tale. I have been a vmWare user for nearly 10 years. All of my production work is now done using 3 virtual servers running on vmWare server, and two virtual computers running on vmWare Workstation. It's my fault tolerant setup.

If I my first experiences had been like yours, though, I would have moved on as well.

This sort of thing is so hard to understand but the end result is as predictable as the sun coming up. Anything is possible but there is almost no way all of those channels could have failed without a significant underlying problem in the structure of the company. Turnover? I'll bet...

Unfortunately I'm not surprised. VMware's products are great, but I've seen some weird disconnects between marketing, sales and the engineering side of things. I've worked extensively with both the workstation products (including Fusion) and the server products (ESX, ESXi).

Dear Matt,

In the case of Parallels I bought a physical disk. In the case of products I download, I burn the executable (usually an installer) to a CD or two, and write any serial numbers and activation codes on the outside of the package.

I cannot recall a case of ever losing access to a program because of a computer failure, changing hardware (or even entire machines), etc. using this approach. And, yes, I have bought from Digital River.


Dear Ray (and others),

Reviewers rarely depend upon end-user tech support when reviewing products. The main reason is that our problems almost always require escalating above level 3, and we may require considerably more technical explanation of what went wrong and why than someone who simply wants to get the software to work. Every software and hardware manufacturer out there offers higher levels of tech support; it's just that end users usually pay for this. It's almost universally understood that reviewers get that level of support (before my experience with VMWare, I would have simply said "universally").

I have to say that my experience was not only uncommon, it was unprecedented in my history of writing reviews. It's not a case of support not knowing what marketing is doing (I wouldn't expect them to), it's that nobody had any idea of how to get me to support I needed and the support technician I dealt with seemed profoundly uninterested, in fact utterly clueless, about the nature of the problem I was experiencing and the situation he had placed me and the company in.


Dear Ed,

I haven't run into the problem you're talking about; updates are fairly infrequent, at least with any flavors of OS I'm using. That said, the simplest solution for a program and OS you're rarely using is to turn off automatic updates. Keep in mind that almost all the patches are irrelevant to you; yes, they are based on problems the publisher has encountered, but the odds of that problem affecting you are very small. They are preemptive medicine. If everything seems to be working fine, do the application and OS updates at your convenience. That's what we did on our Win 2K machine for its entire life, and it worked just fine.

The first time you install a virgin program and OS can be quite "exciting", though. Parallels only required one update, but the version of Windows Vista I was installing was probably two years old. Under the circumstances, letting it do all the updates automatically was the prudent course of action -- some 150 patches later, it was finally current! Not at all to my surprise, Windows patching itself took longer than installing Parallels and Windows Windows Vista had taken.

On the other hand, virtualizing Boot Camp under Parallels was almost effortless.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Hi, I think I had the same issue.

I will disregard VMWare's attitude as I am sure you did try hard to get some help from them.

The problem I had was simply a mistake I made configuring the software. Nothing wrong with Fusion, but to make it work at it's best, I had asked it to work with two processors.

You must realise that the mac OS is running simultaneously with the PC. As I only have 2 procs, you can't expect to use 2 processors for windows and none for Mac OS X.

I set Fusion back to one processor and it was working fine.


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