The flashiest of these is Cortana, Microsoft's voice-controlled assistant software, which users can now call up either through the Windows taskbar or by saying "Hey, Cortana" if they choose. That's a little funny, considering Apple's own Siri has yet to make her appearance on the Mac.
In limited tests on my own computer, this feature worked well. I was able to call up Cortana at will, and she was able to conduct searches, set reminders, check traffic conditions and tell me dumb jokes — all from my Mac. The response wasn't perfect, but it was also not noticeably different from Cortana's performance on my Windows machine.
Other changes to Parallels in its eleventh edition are more subtle, but all aimed at making the process of switching between Windows and Mac as seamless as possible. You can see the Windows Action Center and Apple's Notification Center at the same time. Ditto goes for the Apple dock — which will show open Windows programs — and the Windows taskbar. Parallels has added the Mac's "Quick Look" feature, aka the preview you can call up by hitting the space bar when you've highlighted a file, to the Windows side of things. Other small features, such as the ability to open any file on your Mac in Windows when you right-click on the file, can be particularly useful if you're working on a group document with someone on another platform.
The company has also made a new travel mode that it claims will cut down on battery consumption when you're on the go; a boon for work travelers who have to juggle files.
The software is available Wednesday for $80; it will also support Apple's upcoming operating system, El Capitan. (Users will also have to have a valid copy of Windows 10 to use Parallels). Those who've used the previous two versions of Parallels can upgrade for $50. There's also a Pro edition available for $100, which gives you extra development and networking tools; that also has a discount for those upgrading from a previous version.