It's a sign of the times that only a few days after the consumer release of Windows Vista we're able to talk about a new version of Parallels Desktop that, amongst other new features, improves the experience of running Microsoft's OS on a Mac. This latest beta build (3150, up from the previously released 3036) adds some pretty essential features like full USB 2.0 support, full support for CD and DVD burning within virtual machines, support for conversion of VMware and Virtual PC virtual hard disks to Parallels, true drag and drop functionality, and a new look and feel that meshes more effectively with OS X. On top of these changes, Parallels has improved the Coherence mode (which allows you to run Windows within OS X without switching desktops) so that you can use the dock icon as a start menu, and the use of a Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine. That's a whole lot of improvements for a beta upgrade -- which will currently only accept U.S. serial numbers: live anywhere else and you have to slum it with the 30 day free trial -- although one demographic still won't be happy. Full support for DirectX still hasn't been implemented, so any gamers hoping to ditch that gaming PC (or merely an annoying reboot) will have to continue waiting for the release that does. For all the people out there who like to get things done with their computer, the 40MB download is free, so what are you waiting for?

[Thanks, Chuwy]

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Parallels Desktop for Mac beta build hits Release Candidate 2