Tag Archives | VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion 3 Takes Windows-on-Mac Up a Notch

VMware Fusion BoxWas it really only a little over three years ago that the formerly fanciful notion of being able to run Windows apps within OS X without major limitations became reality? Today, archrivals Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion continue to undergo aggressive upgrades aimed at making the virtualization of Windows on Macs even more powerful, seamless, and simple. And today, VMware is announcing that it’s taking preorders for VMware Fusion 3, which will ship on October 27th.

I haven’t had any hands-on time with the new version yet, but the list of features that VMware has revealed leaves me anxious to get my mitts on it:

  • Snow Leopard support, including a 64-bit engine and support for OS X’s 64-bit kernel.
  • Full support for Windows 7, including the Aero interface and Flip 3D task switching and better support for DirectX and OpenGL graphics.
  • A migration utility that lets you import a real PC’s Windows installation over the network. (Parallels introduced something similar in August, but did so in a separate version of the product that does the job over a bundled USB cable.)
  • A menu for your Windows apps that appears on the right-hand side of OS X’s Menu Bar, reducing or eliminating the need to use Windows’ Start menu and Taskbar.
  • A more efficient engine that’s less taxing on a Mac’s CPU, can run Windows well in 1GB of RAM, and reduces battery drain, according to VMware. I’m especially happy about that last point–my biggest beef with both Fusion and Parallels is the dramatically reduced battery life I get when they’re running. (Still to be determined: How this version’s speed compares to Parallels–the Parallels folks understandably like to tout this MacTech story that shows their product outperforming Fusion 2 in most tests.)

In all, VMware says that Fusion 3 has more than fifty new features. It’ll cost $79.99 for new users; an upgrade version will be $39.99. A few screens supplied by VMware after the jump.

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VMware Fusion 2.0: A Better Way to Run Windows on a Mac?

For more than two years now, my primary computing platform has been Apple’s OS X with a virtualized copy of Windows XP and/or Vista running inside it. I started running the first program that could virtualize Windows on a Mac, Parallels Desktop, the moment it became available as a beta. And mostly, I’ve stuck with Parallels.

But Parallels’ archrival, VMware Fusion, is now shipping in version 2.0, after a few months of public beta. I’ve been using it for a few days and enjoying it. A few major features of the new version:

–The ability to do multiple snapshots of the state of a virtual machine, and to have Fusion create them automatically at set intervals, so you can jump  backwards if something goes wrong;

–Keyboard mapping so you can simulate Windows keypresses that don’t exist on a Mac;

–Better handling of file associations so Windows apps can open Mac documents and vice versa;

–mirroring of folders so that Windows’ My Pictures shows stuff stored in OS X’s equivalent, for instance;

–Support for DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 2 3D graphics, making Fusion a more plausible platform for gaming and other heavy-duty 3D apps (the previous version and Parallels only go up to DirectX 8.1; Parallels also supports OpenGL);

–A year of free McAfee Viruscan Plus security (Parallels comes with six months of Kaspersky’s suite);

–Support for multiple monitors;

–General polish and fit and finish improvements to make the app as Mac-like as possible.

I wanna live with Fusion for a while before I make any attempt to declare a winner in the Mac virtualization race; both it and Parallels are pretty darn good, and the competition between them has unquestionably resulted in two strong products. There’s no doubt, however, that VMware tried to catch up with Parallels or surpass it in a number of places where the latter product was in the lead until now.

Virtualization still can’t replace running a native operating system in every case. Both Fusion and Parallels exact a stiff tax in the form of reduced battery life on my MacBook Pro, I find. And there are still apps that run poorly, or not at all. (As an experiment, I just tried to run Real’s RealDVD, thinking that the DVD-ripping functionality would be a good stress test–but it wouldn’t even install in Fusion.) So I also use Leopard’s Boot Camp feature to turn my MacBook Pro into a true, non-virtual PC…and I have a Vista desktop, too.

Oh yeah–what do I run within virtualized Windows? Office 2007, for one thing–I like it much more than the Mac’s Office 2008. And Internet Explorer 8. And Chrome. And other applications as I need ’em–it’s a blessing to be able to run nearly any Windows application without leaving OS X, as any virtualization fan can attest.

VMware Fusion is $80, but it’s a free upgrade for current users. You need a copy of Windows XP or Vista to use it (or another of the 90 operating systems it supports, including Linux and OS X Leopard Server). More thoughts once I’ve spent more time with it…


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