First look: Parallels for Mac and iPad

We take a look at Parallels Access, which lets you run Windows software on your iPad.
Learn more

01.In parallel


Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac
Price: $89.95 (standard), $54.95 (student & upgrade)

Parallels Access for iPad 
Price: $84.99 per year, per computer

4 1/2 stars out of 5

Want to run genuine Microsoft Office on your iPad just like any other app? Officially you can’t, because Microsoft hasn’t created Office for iPad. But you don’t have to let that stop you. Emulation developer Parallels is picking up the slack for Microsoft with its latest program release on both the desktop and mobile fronts. 

Office on your iPad

The new Parallels Access app for iPad effectively turns your desktop Windows programs into fully fledged iPad apps, complete with iOS-style tap-and-swipe, finger-select and drag-and-drop ease of use. The catch is that you need the new Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 running on your Mac. You also need a network connection, but once you do you can then have Office and any other Windows program on your iPad almost anywhere you go. 

Last year’s Parallels Mobile allowed remote access via an iPad to a Windows desktop on a PC. Parallels Access goes one better, letting you run all your Windows programs on your iPad as if they were native apps made for iOS. And it does the same for Mac desktop apps too, which is great if there’s no iPad equivalent. 

Desktop programs running on an iPad via Parallels Access use the same types of gestures and tools for selection, editing text and so on, just as if it were a native iPad app, along with iOS-specific features such as dictation. A smart-tap feature and onscreen magnifying glass give more precise control for selection of small menu items designed for mouse rather than finger selection. 

Parallels Access is only available for the iPad and via an annual subscription. Desktop 9 for Mac comes with a six-month subscription to Access to try it out. After that, it’s $89 per year, per computer. 

The verdict

Access is a companion app to the new Parallels 9, which now arguably runs Windows better on a Mac than on a PC, because it mixes together the best of features from both platforms for greater ease of use. Desktop 9 brings back a start menu to Windows 8 and allows Modern UI apps in a window instead of the default full-screen mode you’re stuck with on a PC. It also gives Windows programs use of the Mac’s built-in print-to-PDF function and supports Mac gestures in Windows programs, plus the “update while asleep” convenience of the MacBook Power Nap feature. Parallels claims version 9 has up to 40% faster disk performance, along with speedier 3D and web. 



Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments