updated 07:00 pm EST, Mon March 5, 2012
Allows Mac users to try out both beta environments
Cutting-edge users who have wanted to give the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview a tryout, or developers wanting to work with the OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview but don't have a spare machine to use for these still-unstable beta releases can work with them more safely using the newly-updated Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac, which now supports running both OSes in virtual machine environments to protect their "production" systems.
Current Parallels users can get the update through the normal "check for updates" option, while the 30-day trial version has also been updated to allow users to give each of the forthcoming operating systems a try. The new Virtual Machine Wizard built into Parallels can even download and automatically install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview into a new virtual machine. The Consumer Preview is freely available in English, French, German, Japanese and simplified Chinese.
Microsoft warns that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview should not be deployed on a primary machine, as it is not a final version and could crash or corrupt files. The OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview is limited to those who are registered developers with Apple, but the updated Parallels allows authorized users to install it (though support is listed as "experimental") in both host and guest modes.
Additionally, users of Parallels Mobile can utilize the Windows 8 virtual machine remotely via their iOS device. Parallels had previously updated for experimental support of the Windows 8 Developer Preview, but support for Mountain Lion and the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview is new.
Microsoft released the Consumer Preview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which draws heavily from the latest Windows Phone software and incorporates a Windows App Store. The advantage of running either OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview or Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a virtual machine is that if something does go wrong with it, the virtual machine can easily be deleted and restored without interfering in any way with the host Mac.
To celebrate the update, Parallels has announced a contest where users who follow the @ParallelsMac Twitter account and tweet about new update (mentioning @ParallelsMac) are automatically entered. One winner will receive a new iPad 3 (winner will be announced on March 8th, the day after the debut of the new iPad).