Virtualization software maker Parallels updated their software to do more than just “run Windows on your Mac.” Cortana now works as a stand-alone feature directly from the OS X dock, beating Siri to the punch on Apple’s desktop operating system.
Of course, with recent Bootcamp support for Windows 10 on OS X, Cortana can run on a Mac as long as Windows 10 is booted on a supported Mac. But until now, Cortana couldn’t run inside the OS X environment, right alongside other OS X apps and functions. Using a mode in Parallels Desktop 11 called Coherence Mode, Windows apps can run within the OS X environment, and now Cortana is no different.
Using Cortana in this virtualized environment may take a toll on battery life, because to keep Cortana active, or as they call it “Always on Cortana,” it must run constantly in OS X. So the company has taken battery performance forward with the new release of Parallels Desktop 11. For instance, there’s the new Travel Mode which shuts down resource intensive activities, at least temporarily, and manages them intelligently. In addition, there are a number of new overall performance improvements, such as a 50% improvement in start up and shut down times.
Parallels Desktop 11 for home and student users can be purchased starting today for $80, while upgraders can grab it for $50. The Pro Edition for developers and power users requires a $100 per year subscription, which grants access to beefier Mac hardware like the Mac Pro, with up to 64GB of memory and 16 virtual CPUs.
Inside the Apple ecosystem, Cortana's availability won't be limited to the Mac. When Cortana comes to iOS as expected, Apple users, as well as millions of Windows 10 users on PCs and tablets, will have mobile access to Microsoft's virtual assistant.