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Summary:

In the ever leap-frogging world of desktop virtualization for the Mac, VMware has announced that it will make its next hop (I won’t venture to say who’s ahead at this juncture) by the end of October…or the 27th, if you go by its blog. So in […]

vmware_fusion

In the ever leap-frogging world of desktop virtualization for the Mac, VMware has announced that it will make its next hop (I won’t venture to say who’s ahead at this juncture) by the end of October…or the 27th, if you go by its blog. So in just a few weeks, version 3 of Fusion will be available for mass consumption. Some of the announced features are as follows.

The big news, of course, is Snow Leopard optimization, where Fusion jumps onto the 64-bit bandwagon. This should bring some interesting performance boosts to those who use virtualized environments heavily. As a regular Windows VM user (by necessity) I’m really looking forward to this!

fusion3-64bit

If, on the other hand, you’re a Windows user stuck in a Macintosh machine, you’ll be glad to know that Fusion 3 is the first to support Windows Aero and Flip 3D features found in Windows 7. From my perspective, this is cool, but when I run Windows in a VM, it’s bare bones, and just for the program or two that I require. But I’m sure this capability will make some people quite happy.

fusion3-winaero

There is also greatly improved graphics support. I’m not much of a PC gamer, and as such don’t follow these terms very much, so straight from the release, VMware Fusion 3 is the “first to support DirectX 9 Shader Model 3.0 3D graphics and now adds support for OpenGL 2.1.” Sounds neat.

Presumably taking a cue from the competition, there’s “Switching Made Easy,” so that you can now migrate to OS X by converting your Windows installation to a VMware Fusion image, easier than ever before. (My guess is that someone will make it even easier if we wait a few more months. Rib-bit.)

And there are other optimizations, too, along with a nicely redesigned way of accessing the Windows Start menu without having need for the Task bar onscreen.

fusion3-startmenu

All in all, it sounds like a set of updates to an already solid virtualization platform. If you’re in the market for such a product, version 3 of Fusion will cost $79.99. If you’re a current paid user, an upgrade will set you back $39.99. I use both Parallels and Fusion (at work and home, respectively) and like both well enough. I’ve been using the Parallels 5 beta, and it’s pretty nice. But while I haven’t had the chance to toy with Fusion 3 yet, I’m quite intrigued, and will be getting the upgrade. If you’ve already invested in one camp or the other, I can’t say (yet) if jumping ship for the other would be a worthwhile investment. Check back later after I’ve got my hands on the updates, as I’ll try to put some perspective to this topic.

  1. Sounds pretty cool, but virtual box 3 has the direct X as well (Although experimental), and it works pretty well (and its free). Can’t wait to see how the compare.

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  2. Sounds fantastic. I’ve been a long time VMware user (first on the PC, now on the Mac). While the graphics enhancements will be nice (and who can complain about OpenGL support?), I’m really hoping that they address the performance issues.

    Parallels, while an extremely nice product, is slower and much less usable than Workstation (the equivalent for Linux and Windows). I have two laptops that I use regularly, my MacBook Pro and a Dell that runs Ubuntu Linux. Despite being nearly a year older, having half the ram, and a slower processor; Workstation hands down outperforms Parallels. Not only does Parallels feel slower, but it requires about 25% additional time to complete processor intensive tasks (compiling code, running models)

    And that’s unfortunate since both Workstation and Parallels are manufactured by the same company. Here’s hoping that the update to version 3 will fix that.

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    1. @Rob Oakes

      Workstation and Parallels are not manufactured by the same company, Workstation is done by VMware and Parallels are done by Parallels

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    2. Oops, I meant to say Workstation and Fusion. This is a good reason why all writing should only happen in the afternoon. I stand by all of the observations though.

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  3. I can not wait to see what VMWare does with this update. I have had to adapt to more of a virtual machine with getting back into the IT world. We have several Mac clients, but of course the majority is still Windows based. Making this faster, more reliable, and just plain ease of use is a major plus.

    I have yet to turn a single eye back to Parallels after a rough start with them back in 2007. I used their product for about 3 days before I canned it and ate the cost. Watching the two progress, I can definitely tell that they are geared towards two different goals.

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  4. I’m looking forward to this update as well. I started with Parallels, but as soon as VMWare released Fusion I switched and never looked back. I don’t have any issues with Fusion and any enhancements are greatly appreciated. I think the new way of displaying the Start menu will finally make me use their Unity mode.

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  5. I just switched to parallels shortly after version 4 because of those benchmarks released showing parallels was actually faster, and in some tests showed it was even faster then bootcamp. When vmware released 2.0.6 I wanted to try it out again but when I went to launch it I got an error telling me to reboot in 32bit mode so I again abandoned it. I sorta feel parallels is ahead of vmware as far as the evolution of virtualization on OSX. I feel like vmware is playing catch up. If you doubt what Im saying about the benchmarks you can even check parallels vs vmware in wikipedia, and everything is explained there, including a side by side comparison of features

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