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!
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.
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.
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.