Parallels Desktop 9 improves performance by up to 40 percent, adds cloud support

Parallels on Thursday announced the upcoming release of Parallels Desktop 9, a new version of its virtualization software that enables you run Windows, Linux and other operating systems on your Mac without having to reboot first, as you do using Apple's Boot Camp software. Parallels Desktop 9 is available today as a $49.99 upgrade for existing customers; the full version will be released on September 5, 2013 for $79.99.

Parallels Desktop 9 sports up to 40 percent better performance than its predecessor, according to the developer (in disk operation, anyway - other functions like startup and shutdown are 25 percent faster; 3D graphics get about a 15 percent bump). Also new is the ability to sync iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and other services between your Mac and Windows virtual machine without having to duplicate files locally.

Windows 8/8.1 support has been added, along with Power Nap support on MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Thunderbolt and Firewire storage devices are now supported directly from Windows virtual machines, and you can now print from a Windows application to a PDF document on the Mac desktop - regardless of whether that Windows app supports printing to PDF natively.

Parallels Desktop also remembers full screen settings in multi-monitor setups, has editable keyboard shortcuts, improves Linux integration and sports other enhancements.

On Wednesday Parallels announced Parallels Access, new software that enables you to "applify" Mac and Windows applications running from your computer so you can access them on a remote iPad over a network - it's being offered as a service with a $79.99 annual subscription fee. Parallels Desktop users get an exclusive six-month subscription to the new service.

Is this enough to get you to upgrade? Or are you done with Windows once and for all? Sound off in the comments.