Parallels and Windows 8 – two core minimum

I’m amazed how well my Macbook Air (June 2012 version) runs Windows in a virtual machine with Parallels.  I’ve been doing a bunch of data migration work recently and need to run Windows 7, SQL Server, and Office 2010.  Everything is seamless and fast on a second monitor so it feels like 2 PCs on a single keyboard and mouse.

Then I started working with Windows 8 and Office 2013 for a different client and the wheels came off.  The VM would stutter like a car climbing snowy Claypit Hill Road in Wayland.  The CPU would peg but not even the animated cursor would be spinning.

Frustrated, I launched a case with Parallels support.  After a little back and forth, I got an appointment with an engineer who was polite, articulate, and — wait for it — helpful!  He indicated he had seen this problem before and adding a 2nd CPU core to the VM resolved the issue.

The change was painless.  It required fully stopping the VM, but no other surgery.  I haven’t seen the stutter problem since, and don’t notice any adverse performance consequences from the change.  Parallels get’s an A for technology and an A for support.  Nice to feel that way about a product and company these days.