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For some years now I’ve been running a Mac as my main development system, using Parallels Desktop to run Windows in VM’s on that hardware. I like the Parallels software, but not their licensing policy, which requires me to license each machine I use rather than the “No Nonesense” approach of licensing me, the user, which I find particularly annoying now that they have switched to a subscription licensing model.

But, this didn’t used to be a problem until I got a second Mac last year with a MacBook Pro for development on the go, as well as continuing to use my iMac.

To get up and running with the MacBook I simply signed up for a second subscription. But this week I received a payment details reminder this week for the fact that my credit card that I used had expired.


Having been reminded, I then queried their current licensing policy to see if two licenses were still required.
I was told that they were (or rather, I was told that the EULA still applied and to go away and read that.
They then followed that up with a frankly bonkers “solution” of swapping the “active” license from one machine to another as needed.

If they are happy for someone to do that, why not simply allow them to activate the license on two machines ? Or as many machines as they need ?

But this made me evaluate my options, consider switching to VMware and take proper stock of all the factors involved, including total subscription costs etc.

And so it was then that I noticed that my two subscriptions were significantly differently priced!

How I had missed this before I cannot fathom. But I had.

Two Identical Subscriptions. Very Non-Identical Subs

The license I was using on my MacBook Pro was due to renew later this year at NZ $88.20 but my original license (the one I was being reminded about, with renewal due later this month) was NZ $179 !!!

I double and triple checked to make sure this was not a single payment for both subscriptions. But no, each was a different price, for a single Parallels Desktop Pro license, with different renewal dates.

Investigating the possibility of switching to VMware I had already found that this space is rife with “hidden deals”. VMware have a competitive upgrade pricing deal for Parallels users, but as far as I can tell do not directly advertise this, but you can find it if you Google the right incantation.

Curious as to what “hidden” discount/upgrade options Parallels might have, similar to VMware’s I googled a few combinations of “Parallels” and “upgrades” etc and came across a special offer to upgrade to Parallels Desktop Pro at the same subscription cost as non-Pro.

That’s (US$49/yr) AND the T’s and C’s state that the cost is then fixed at that level for each year.

You can order as many as you need.

So I have purchased two of these “Upgrade” subscriptions and applied them to my current installs. My previous subscriptions will be allowed simply to lapse.

A Saving Not to be Sneezed At

At a stroke I have replaced a combined subscription cost of over NZ$250/yr with a single NZ$154/yr subscription covering two licenses.

Coincidentally (or not) that’s almost exactly the same price as the VMware Fusion Pro competitive upgrade deal but now I don’t have to deal with migrating all my VM’s or the fact that (based on an initial evaluation with the 30 day trial) VMware seem not to have solved the performance problems arising when running VM’s off an external USB 3 HDD – an issue that Parallels have also had but long since resolved (the Win10 guest OS thrashes the disk, pegging it at 100% CPU with performance being unusable as a result).

The only question is, why didn’t Parallels think to mention this option to me ?

8 thoughts on “Hidden/Hard to Find Deals on Parallels Desktop Pro”

  1. “..why didn’t Parallels think to mention this option to me ?”
    Ummm. It;s in their interest not to mention it, not yours…;-)

    1. Ummmm, how exactly is it in their interest to lose a customer entirely ?

      I was seriously considering switching to VMware (and had told them this) and I still might. It was their good fortune that I stumbled across an acceptable price for what I needed and that they kept (or rather failed to lose) me as a customer, at least for the next 12 months.

      Sure, as a result of this they “only” get NZ $154 from me this year. And sure, that’s NZ $100 less than the NZ $250 they had last year and might have had this year.

      But it’s also NZ $154 better than NZ $0.

  2. I used Parallels for years, but switched to VMWare because I got tired of having to fork over a fee for an upgrade every time OS X was upgraded. OS X is now free, but Parallels isn’t. WTF? I don’t run my system off of external drives, so I haven’t encountered the problem you’ve mentioned. And I don’t need the Pro version b/c I don’t need to create VMs that I distribute to others to “play”, every one of which requires a separate license fee for everything on it that’s got one.

    1. I’m not sure why you would expect Parallels to be free, or to expect that there wouldn’t need to be updates to address changes in the host OS. I don’t expect to get Parallels for nothing, but per machine licensing is archaic and anachronistic given that their own advice was to buy one license and then activate it on each machine as required, automatically de-activating it on any previous machine.

      Sounds like de-facto per-user licensing to me, so why not simply allow that in the license ?

      The external drive issue is one that Parallels has also had in the past. They fixed it in Parallels 10, then it re-occurred in Parallels 11. Touch-wood it won’t regress in Parallels 12. Parallels also had a more general problem with Yosemite when it first came out, with a bug that reduced the entire host system to an unusable crawl, not just the guest OS’s.

      Unfortunately I don’t have the space on my on-board storage to avoid having at least some VM’s on external drives. I use the Pro version for similar reasons: Linked clones minimise demands on storage and enable me to stand up VM’s for testing very quickly.

      1. I think you’re missing my point. Parallels is virtually guaranteed to break whenever OS X is updated; VMWare historically does not. Most of the software on my machine does not die when I update the OS, in either Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android.

        The Parallels folks take advantage of OS X updates to force their customers to pay for an upgrade. And I got tired of them adding in crap I neither need nor want, just to continue using their software. I don’t have to do that with any other software I own, including VMWare.

        I don’t expect upgrades to be free — the VMWare upgrades weren’t. But I also don’t like being forced to upgrade just because the vendor chooses to shove out version-specific upgrades that force you to purchase in order to keep using their software.

        Also, as you discovered, Parallels tends to cost more to upgrade than VMWare. (And you MUST upgrade it more often.)

        1. No, I got that point. My counter-point is that the only OS upgrade that ever caused an issue for Parallels (for me) was Yosemite. Otherwise OS upgrades have gone without a hitch, but then I typically don’t leap at new OS versions as soon as they are available, but wait for things to “settle down”. I would also note that the problem in that case was a general one that affected all virtualization solutions, including VMware. That issue was an interrupt storm that Yosemite caused in specific, older Macs (mid-2011 iMacs were affected, which included mine).

          I never pinned down Whether it was Parallels that fixed it in their software or Apple in their OS (though I suspect the latter). I rolled back to Mavericks until I could see (from forum activity/posts) that the issue at least no longer affected Parallels.

          But the external drive issue isn’t related to the OS and it seems VMware are having a harder time addressing that than Parallels given that they still have a problem in this area and Parallels do not. That’s a big problem for me, even if it isn’t for you. :shrug:

          Historical data is one thing. Current status quite another. 🙂

          When I only had one Mac, Parallels and VMware were comparable in cost, virtually identical in fact; before the subscription-only licensing for Pro, I could choose to upgrade as and when it suited. It was only the addition of a second Mac that changed that and if nothing else the subscription approach makes planning for $ outlays a bit easier. Worth noting is that if my usage ever moves outside the “non-commercial” realm, VMware also then require per machine licensing as well so their advantage on that score then evaporates.

          With the “upgrade” deal I found, Parallels and VMware again cost exactly the same, to within an NZ $1 and if/when I have to start licensing VMware installations separately, Parallels becomes the significantly cheaper option.

    1. Yes, but unfortunately the true price of free is all too painfully obvious in the performance/UX of VBox compared to its commercial cousins. 🙂

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