Parallels Desktop 7 is a popular Mac virtualization tool made by Parallels that can run operating system in a virtual environment much like VMWare Fusion (which announced support for Windows 8 Consumer  VMWare Player/Workstation for Windows.

Today they updated their software to allow it to run the newly released (and much improved) Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It also supports the OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion developer preview.

Parallels Desktop 7 offers a nice tool that allows you to download and install Windows 8 Consumer Preview as a virtual machine. This is a nice refresher from other virtual machine clients which would force you to have to track down VM files from somewhere on the internet. (Most likely a shady torrent site.)

According to a company blog post today, there will be more mobile control over Windows 8 from your mobile devices: “Additionally, Parallels Mobile users can remotely access and control their Mac and its Windows 8 virtual machine, applications and files, via their iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.”

For me, (and a lot of people I would think) this would be really nice. It would allow me to experience all the touch screen features of Windows 8 on my iPad, that I can’t experience on my laptop, without having to go out and buy a whole new expensive tablet that might not work very well for a product that hasn’t officially been released yet.

Virtual machines sandboxes all testing software, so if something goes wrong (as it does in Windows a lot, especially in beta software) your Mac will be protected, even more than normally when an app crashes.

This update for Parallel is available free for all existing Parallel Desktop 7 users. A trial version is available for free, and it retails for about $80 (though it’s available for about $60 on Amazon.)

If you are a current user of Parallels, here’s how to get the update:

  1. Select the Parallels Desktop menu on your Mac
  2. Click Check for Updates
  3. That’s it!

If you’re a risk taker, there is another option besides using a virtual machine client. (This option is not recommended for less advanced users, but I’m guessing that if you are even interested in installing a beta version of an operating system, and know what a virtual machine is, then you are an advanced user.)

You can use Boot Camp and install Windows 8 Consumer preview onto another separate partition on your Mac’s hard drive.

This is what I have done with both the Developer Preview and the Consumer Preview (except it’s on my PC.) One thing that I have to say is that on my Windows netbook, once the operating system is installed, it takes some work to getting your other bootable partitions to be available again.

In other words, Windows 8 has it’s own agenda for my netbook’s bootloader. I found a nice tool that allowed me to edit the boot menu, and it worked for the Developer Preview, but I can’t find it as of now. If I could, I would have put up a link to the download page. But basically for now, I’m stuck with the Consumer Preview for better or worse.

So now that you’ve heard my warnings please go ahead and install on whatever computer you have, be it Mac or PC.

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