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In order to run Microsoft Windows software on my Intel Mac, I use the fine software Parallels Desktop for Mac (referred to as “Parallels” from now on). It runs everything I have thrown at it up to now and it is getting beter and faster with each new release.

The only annoying technical limitation is that Direct X does not work, so modern games are out of the question. But who needs games on a work machine, right? 😀

There is a problem with Parallels, Inc. and the way they handle their overseas business, however: we are being treated as second rate, at best.

Let me explain: “Paralles” (the software) is not localized in a technical sense. Customers anywhere in the world get the same American English version of the software. This is no problem for me and it should not be for anyone because Parallels, Inc. makes no claim of language localization.

However, the activation key used to activate the software is different in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. I have no idea why this is so, but I assume that it is because of some business problem this approach fixes. Again, I have no issues with this.

What I object to is that beta versions of the software, which Paralles, Inc. makes available months before a new release (again, a move that I applaud) require an activation key which must be a U.S. activation key. International keys do not work. International users must request a new demo key every 30 days until the system locks them out for requesting too many keys.

Do international customers have less of a need for new features? Have international users paid less than U.S. users to justify this treatment? Are international users challenged in some way when dealing with beta software?

But wait, it gets better: you also can not upgrade to the latest final version of the software until several days after the U.S. customers get to do so. And (as opposed to the beta version) Parallels will not tell you that this is so.

I downloaded the newest version (1986) right after it was released on 27-FEB-2007 because an email message from Parallels, Inc. urged me to. The new software simply rejected my activation key. So I contacted Parallels,Inc. support using the form on their website. I made it clear that I am a paying customer (I gave them my key) and requested assistance. I am still waiting for a reply today (05-MAR-2007).

A few days later Parallels, Inc. quietly published a different version of the software that is called “Parallels-Desktop-3186-Mac-uk-AQ” and only available using the built-in update function, it seems. This version installs and activates without a hitch. Unfortunately, I was not told about it by Parallels, Inc. like I was with the U.S. version and I could not find this version on the website.

All of this leads me to the conclusion that for some unfathomable reason, international customers are only second rate customers in the way Parallels, Inc. treats us. I can only hope that this is due to a flaw in the way the company handles it’s processes and not a deliberate decision.

I’d really like to hear from a representative of Parallels, Inc. on this issue, but – alas – I have not received a reply yet.

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