There are Mac users and there are PC users and never the twain shall meet, right? In a philosophical sense maybe, but practicalities dictate that sometimes Windows programs need to be accessible to even the most obdurate of Apple users.

With five million copies sold, Parallels has established itself as the leader in cross platform accessibility, this much we know, but the new version Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac and extensions to the product range mean Parallels software does a lot more than that.

Parallels recently released v3.1 of its Mac Management system, a bolt on to Microsoft’s SCCM (System Centre Configuration Manager) which most school IT departments will be using for ongoing management of computers in a network.

Basically, the product allows an administrator to manage and update Macs on a network in exactly the same way as they would a group of PCs. The software automatically scans a network to discover Macs and auto-enrols them, gathers hardware and software inventory of Macs, collects warranty status information (i.e., AppleCare) and leverages native Microsoft SCCM reports to view information about your Macs. Data can be protected by enforcing FileVault 2 full-disk encryption.

“Parallels Mac Management means you don’t have to employ an alternate system or more people to update and manage the Macs on your network, it’s as easy as launching an .exe file and all through a single pane of glass.

“Education has always had a heavy presence of Macs but using this software the deployment of patches and even full OS images, monitoring of applications and configurations, and updating software is very easy and inexpensive; $30 per connected Mac per year or our Jumpstart Program for $3000 which includes 10 hours of installation support and licensing for up to 100 machines,” Channel Manager Australia and New Zealand for Parallels Kevin Greely says.

The Parallels Mac Management system offers support for deployment of a wide range of software packages: .dmg, .pkg, .iso, .app, scripts, and stand-alone files.

Parallels Desktop Enterprise Edition is the company’s flagship product for managing Macs in a school or organisation. There’s a minimum of five-seats mind you, but that includes all updates and upgrades, 24/7 support and easy mass deployment of the application including your favourite virtual machines/SOEs. Parallels also offers a 50 per cent education discount and further volume discounts for deployments of more than 100 Macs.

“We are adding a self-service licensing portal in October 2014. This will allow administrators to grant and revoke Parallels Desktop licenses which is handy with BYOD/CYOD regimes so there’s no more wasted licenses,” Mr Greely says.

On an individual level, Parallels Desktop makes it easy to copy all your files, applications and browser toolbars using step-by-step wizards if you’re switching from PC to Mac. Everything that you used to on your PC can now be done on your Mac, including using the thousands of PC applications available.

It isn’t limited to Windows, the Parallels software provides support for running a wide array of guest operating systems including OS X Mavericks, Windows 8.1 and 7, Linux and Google Chrome, which pretty much covers all bases.

You can launch Windows apps from the Dock, use OS X gestures in Windows apps, and copy and paste and drag and drop between Mac and Windows, which is a huge time saver.
Support for 16vCPUs and 64 GB of RAM lets you run even the most demanding applications with ease so it’s never steppy or slow.

While the Windows virtual machine is being set up, Parallels will automatically tune it for what you’ll use it for the most: productivity applications, design, development or games.

The upcoming Yosemite release is in Parallels’ sights, their engineers are hard at work making sure that its adoption isn’t at all painful.