Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac lets you seamlessly run Windows and Mac applications side-by-sid

CrossOver 13 dramatically speeds Windows graphics on OS X

CodeWeavers today released CrossOver 13, a new version of OS X software that runs Windows applications on Macs without the use of Microsoft Windows. The new version improves graphics performance of up to two or three times that of the previous version in some cases. CrossOver 13 also includes general improvements for all applications, as well as specific improvements for Outlook for Windows in Internet Explorer.

The major improvement is a new feature called "Performance Enhanced Graphics," a low-level programming technique that displays more graphics frames per second with the same amount of processing. This results in much faster graphics in all Windows applications in OS X, and games in particular.

Jon Parshall, COO of CodeWeavers, told us that "your mileage may vary" depending on the app, the hardware and settings. But he also said that the top performance gains are substantial.

"We're seeing reports of many titles running 40-60% faster, and some even 2x, 3x, or more," said Parshall. "Some titles feel like it's a totally different game...the improvement could be dramatic."

Other enhancements in CrossOver 13 include improved Outlook connections with hosted Exchange servers such as Office 365, Sherweb, GoDaddy. The company said that Internet Explorer 7 works better in CrossOver, and Excel macros and PowerPoint slideshows are much improved.

CrossOver 13 comes only 3 months after the release of version 12.5, which also had major under-the-hood changes that enabled Windows applications to work with OS X features, such as Expose and Spaces, and Tray icons that appear in the Mac menu bar.

Unlike virtualization products such as Parallels Desktop, CrossOver doesn't run the Windows OS on a Mac. Instead, it enables OS X to run Windows applications through the use of an emulator called Wine that runs in the background. Although CrossOver doesn't support all Windows applications, it does support thousands of business apps and games. CodeWeavers points out which apps those are at its web site.

CrossOver 13 is available for $60 for either the Mac or Linux versions. A support package is available for an extra $20. The update is free for customers currently with support.