Updated Parallels v4.0, billed as speeding Windows virtualisation on Macs, has been slated by some users for slowing their systems to a crawl instead. Some are demanding their money back.
Parallels software enables Macs to run Windows concurrently with Mac OS X as an application alongside other Mac OS X applications. Files can be shared between the two environments and external disks can be seen in both as well. Version four was released on November 4 and added things like a better GUI, support for up to 8-core processors, and better integration of Windows and Mac applications but the main billed event was the speed boost.
The upgrade process for existing users was complex and took an unexpectedly long time as existing virtual machines were converted but it is the slowness of the installed product which has surprised users.
Parallels desktop support has a note on its web page alluding to the sudden increase in the support call load: "Note: Due to the recent version launch, please expect extended delays while we continue to work around the clock to handle all requests."
Posts on the Parallels desktop forum reveal the users' discontent. User villox said: "I'm noticing that the VM is extremely slow ... taking a really long time to launch applications. Reboot takes forever."
Rebooting the Mac was suggested as a temporary fix but didn't work, as poster sdi noted: "Re-booting the Mac does seem to improve things but it comes back after a while and everything goes SLOOOOOW again. Today it took about three minutes to resume Windows XP Pro and everything was unresponsive during this time."
Poster solus chipped in with: "Currently, PD4 (Parallels Desktop v4.0) is absolutely useless. PD3 was lightning fast compared to this new version, and it's very disappointing." He said that it slowed down to a crawl in Coherence mode, in which the Parallels desktop window is hidden and the Windows application runs in an apparent Mac OS window.
User DiScO said: "I was all excited about this version but not so much anymore."
'eis76uk' was "very disappointed indeed with P4 ... I wonder if Parallels actually tested this before chucking it out, or did they just write it and hope for the best?"
A poster called firstname.lastname@example.org said removing the Parallels Internet Security software from the Windows XP virtual machine on his Mac solved the problem. No one else concurred.
User pushupstairs said: "I have to say I agree with the disgruntled comments." He has reverted to Parallels v3 after testing v4 under a trial license.
Poster beautox said: "Another software company charging users for being beta testers. The new v4 is rubbish and not ready for release imho. It's slow and unstable. Far from being faster as touted, it's MUCH slower how ever many CPUs you assign. And I have an 8 CPU Mac Pro. Also it crashes all the time. Basically I feel ripped off and want my money back."
In a separate thread user Kris G writes: "Geez! what piece of crap software it is. Costed me hours of frustration. I know folks at Parallel are working on this software, but for God sake how can one release software with full of bugs and ask money for it? I am trying to be positive, but it is beyond of my usual patience."
Poster brianwmay has said in his thread: "The more I think about it, the more I feel conned into just about a complete waste of money - Lord knows there's enough turmoil and THAT neck of the woods. I just want to publicly state : Parallels, I feel conned by this upgrade that frankly does NOT do what you say it does!"
User yin_ko added: "I ONLY use parallels to work on my autocad 2008, and since upgrading to v.4, it's a real torture !!! 20-25 minutes just to make a copy/paste !!!! EACH TIME !!!! I'm running on a Macpro with 4 cpus, and 14 Go of ram ! and still can't get to work normally."
Parallels support issued a hotfix called Build 3540 late on Friday to fix v4 bugs, but users were still submitting problem reports very early on Monday morning.
For example, user exmere12 said: "I find it absolutely shameful that this new version is so full of bugs, including the update - I have been reading this forum for many days now, following absolutely every advice given by whoever is behind the scenes, seeing MANY users that are discontent with this new upgrade/update. I need all of these problems solved SOON before I decide to take measures to ask for a refund."
User ScottinMA posted this message late on Sunday: "This is ridiculous! I have repeatedly requested a refund from Parallels as a result of this DEFECTIVE upgrade experience that has cost me more money than I'd like to reveal due to time loss, productivity loss, and if I were a lawyer, punitive damages, but all I want is my money back. No response to this request for days! So my only option is to file a complaint with Citibank Visa and fight it out. Shouldn't be hard with all this documentation. I can't believe this is how the Parallels has decided to handle this upgrade problem by ignoring their customers!"
Parallels was unable to respond to inquiries about this story. ®
Parallels has responded:
It's disappointing to see some of our customers are having problems; however, the vast majority of our 1.5 million users are happy. The feedback in your article and the comments made on the forum are not specific enough for us to address here, but the main issue seems to be around performance degradations. In actual fact, we have had only a handful of tickets raised on this issue and each time the problem related to specific set up issues with the customer in question, rather than a wider problem that would affect the majority of customers. Those customers that have got in touch with us are being given assistance to overcome their unique challenges. It is, however, important to note that we have had very, very few customers complain to us directly about problems and even fewer complaining that we have not resolved their problems.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the Parallels Forums were created to enable people to ask questions or flag issues or make recommendations to other users, so by definition they will be largely populated by people talking about problems. That said, there are also numerous threads from customers expressing what a positive experience they are having. We very much appreciate all our customer feedback: the good and the bad, and we take it all very seriously. In fact, unlike our competitors in this space, we offer free email and telephone support to enable our users to contact us as easily as possible. All emails are currently being answered within 24 hours, and we apologise to anyone who had a slow response during the busiest period directly after launch.
While we hope our customers will only have a positive experience, any critical feedback enables us to identify and work on areas for improvement. As such, we are working closely with our customers to address the issues that are currently being raised, which is why we have released a hotfix as The Register points out. This has addressed many of the issues we are hearing about, but we are continuing to work with any customers that are experiencing further problems to address them as quickly as possible, and to refine the product to ensure other users do not experience the same problems.