Bye, Bye Parallels – Hello Virtual Box

So I finally did it.  When I first purchased my MacBook Pro I bought a copy of Parallels 8.  What a mistake that turned out to be.  Don’t get me wrong the software did what it should have done when I bought it whilst running Mountain Lion.  Then their marketing kicked in banging on about how Parallels won’t work after each upgrade of OSX.  You can read about some of that story here so I won’t go over that again here.

I finally upgraded to El Capitan and boom, Parallels issues with the networking, I tried a few fixes published on various sites, none of which worked.  I refuse to give them any more cash frankly so – bye, bye Parallels – hello Virtual Box.

I’ll keep this thread up-to-date with anything relevant or potentially interesting that happens during the switch.

Installing Virtual Box & Win7 Virtual Machine

Theres practically nothing to write about this, it was ridiculously easy.  Virtual Box installed without any issues at all.  Plugged in the SuperDrive to the Mac, launched Virtual Box, went through the VM wizard and Win7 installed without any issues.

Thumbs up all round frankly.  And no cash changed hands!


Should I Download MacKeeper?

I’ll cut to the chase – NO, DO NOT DOWNLOAD this “software”.

MacKeeper is one of those apps that seems to pop up everywhere offering to fix all over your problems and more or less upgrade your life along with it.  Do not fall foul of this software, far more people report problems with it than you can shake a stick at.  They’re marketing tactics alone should warrant serious concerns a lá Parallels.

There are precious few tools that I’ll recommend for any platform in addition to the tools that arrive natively on these platforms.  OSX has some neat built in maintainance tools that you can use, if you leave your Mac on overnight it will probably execute a bit of maintainance for you without any prompting.

Generally I find the tools offered by Piriform to be excellent.  Their CCleaner app is available for PC and Mac and I make use of it all my machines Windows and OSX.

If you have been duped into downloading the trial for MacKeeper, get it off your system, NOW and never look back.


Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac and Yosemity Compatility Fiasco

I’ve been using Window 8 on my MacBook Pro for well over a year now.  The combination of the two really are great (yes I do like Windows 8 on the other hand OSX is a mixed bag).  Anyway, I’m digressing.

For the past few months I have been getting emails from Parallels informing me that PD (Parallels Desktop for Mac) is not compatible with Yosemity.  These messages started roughly around the time Apple released the preview of Yosemity to their newly minted public beta program.

The emails where always very clear in their message of informing all its recipients that PD8 will not work with Yosemity.  These messages carried on appearing in my inbox periodically but I ignored them as I wasn’t running the preview and had no intention of doing so.  After a subsequent update to PD8 whenever I launched PD the application itself started to flash up the message informing me of the same issue.  So now I’m receiving emails and software pop-ups delivering the same message of impending doom when your apps stop working post OSX update.

Anyway, cue Apple releasing the official first cut of OSX 10.10 Yosemity.

I updated my MacBook Pro on the Friday (October 17th) following the release on Thursday October 16th 2014.  After having had a play around I decided to try and launch Parallels and boot into my Windows 8 VM.  Well, well … what a nice little surprise I had.  All working despite the advisories for Parallels themselves.  As of this writing (23rd October 2014) my instance of PD8 is still launching and is advising me that it won’t work which is slightly baffling.  As a developer myself if my apps work on an OS I don’t feel inclined to wonder around shouting the opposite …


So what gives?

I have been over to the Parallels forums writing about this as I know there are people out there spending a significant amount of money on this program in order to keep all their machines running.  How many PD8 users blindly splashing out cash on multiple instances of the update when in fact they didn’t need to?

On the PD forum in this thread the Parallels support staff have made statements like this:

“Parallels Desktop 8 is not compatible with OS X 10.10 and I’m surprised to hear you were able to launch it – that was not the case when we tested it in the labs.”

So according to their support staff the application shouldn’t even launch, let alone run an instance of a VM.

The problem is that there seems to be a growing number of people reporting the same as me.  Their instance of PD8 under Yosemity is working just fine.  This goes to some distance to proving that it’s not a fluke of my particular system.

What does this mean?  I’m convinced that the insistence of Parallels that it doesn’t work is simply an opportunity to capitalise on OSXs compatibility model.  Windows has for a long time been berated for being a lumbering dog due in some ways to it’s backwards compatibility.  I’ve got code from Windows 95 running on my Windows 8 box.  No such luck in Apple world and I believe Parallels are capitalising on this with a chance for a provable deniability approach to exclaiming their old products no longer work when in fact they do.

This really is so counter-intuitive from a developers point of view.  Compatibility is usually a massive plus to developers (albeit a pain in the ass for the sales teams).

the main problem I have with this is that I believe Parallels have broken UK advertising standards laws.  The UK laws are very sophisticated when it comes to advertising and consumer protections and I think these have been breeched frankly.  Part of the government web site states:

Advertising to consumers
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations mean you can’t mislead or harass consumers by, for example:

  • including false or deceptive messages
  • leaving out important information
  • using aggressive sales techniques

Read ‘The consumer protection from unfair trading regulations’ for the rules on advertising legally.

Really to boil it all down either the support staff have not been kept up to date, Parallels are simply lying in order to boost sales of PD10 or their testing labs are completely useless in modelling even the average users environment.  None are good.

I chipped into a thread that had been started by another PD8 user that had the same experience I did.  You can read that thread here.

The last email I received on the subject from Parallels is show in the image below:



There really isn’t any interpretation of that email, it’s pretty explicit in informing people that this combination absolutely won’t work.

In the thread on the Parallels support forum one of the support staff (Eugene@Parallels) sent this message in the thread:

“Hi People,
Thanks for feedback and replies.
Please consider, this set up: Host Yosemite Mac OS X and Parallels Desktop 8 is _not_ recommended to use.
This is not the pushing to upgrade. This message about safe usage of the product and getting proper support.
lets say the virtual machine runs and then crashes. Then user upgrades to Parallels Desktop 10 and it won’t launch at all. The fix will be really time-consuming and sophisticated. And all because the system requirements were not met.”

This itself isn’t accurate as there is no mention in these emails that the incompatibility is merely labelled as “not recommended” it clearly states that it simply will not work.  I’ve included a screen shot below showing my VM running under OSX Yosemity.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-23-at-01.14.44If you go hunting around the Parallels forums there is no shortage of people proving that the combination of Parallels 8 and Yosemity work fine together.  You can read more in these threads:
Parallels Desktop 8 and Yosemite Update
Parallels Desktop 8 and OSX Yosemite – guess what?…

In every thread there are very annoyed PD customers complaining about this issue and Parallels appear to be VERY quiet in those threads.  I alone with a lot of other people are seriously pissed off and with in my opinion very good reason.


So as of Wednesday 29th October all my posts to the Parallels forum have been set to require moderation before posting …

Interesting response from Parallels to say the least.  So, I’ve asked why …

Hi Eugene,

I was just wondering if you could let me know why my posts to the forum are now being pre-screened (“awaiting moderator approval”) before appearing on the Parallels forum?
This strikes me as an odd response since I certainly have not breached any of the forum guidelines.

OSX & Parallels Visual Studio Debugging – F11 / F12

If like me your using Parallels on a mac for your development you’ll find that debugging can be a pain in the ass.  Lots of the keyboard shorcuts you use on a regular basis in Windows needs a bit of configuring in OSX in order to get them to work correctly.

I use the function keys a lot so the first task is to get the function keys to work as function keys, this will be applied in OSX as well as any VMs you’re running.

In OSX go Apple -> System Preferences -> Keyboard and select the Keyboard page, make sure the following option is checked:

“Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys”

With that option set all the nice little Apple functions need to be accessed using “fn + F8”, the default is great for casual users and pain for anyone else.  Anyway …

Next you need to remove the default functions for the F11 and F12 keys so that OSX doesn’t “intercept” the key press and do it’s function rather than letting that make it’s way to Parallels and then consequently your Windows Vm.  So swith to the “Keyboard shortcuts” page and make sure the following two options are deselected:

“Show Desktop – F11”

“Show Dashboard – F12”

Now you should be able to use these keys as you would F11 and F12 in Windows.  Yay.  I don’t understand why F12 is still mapped by default to show the dashboard in OSX considering it’s fairly unused these days.

Anyway, happy debugging!