VMware Fusion 3

The latest version of VMware Fusion 3 brings invaluable new functions to the Windows virtualisation software for Macintosh

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VMware Australia Fusion 3

Pros

  • Faster than its predecessor

Cons

  • Few glitches with Windows 7 VMs

Bottom Line

There were a few glitches in the rendering of Windows 7 virtual machines, but not enough to spoil the essential operation of this powerful package. We’ll cover the new Parallels 5 in a forthcoming review to see how the two options now compare. In the meantime, we found that in Fusion 3, VMware has made some notable and useful improvements over its predecessor, adding a some extra speed, along with the key upgrade in the appearance of Windows Vista and later Microsoft OSes.

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Among the many new features (VMware lists 50 in total), it's now possible to have a Windows VM span across more than one monitor. And in line with Apple's steady move to 64-bit processing, Fusion 3 is now a 64-bit application.

This is especially welcome for a heavy-duty application such as this, that can make use of several gigabytes of RAM if more than one VM is running at once. And while we couldn't test this feature, Fusion 3 is now specified to support 4-way SMP in quad-core systems.

VMware offers the opportunity to download and import free trials of Windows OSes within VMware Fusion 3, using the new VHD Test Drive support. At time of press, we only found Vista and Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition available.

Also included with the full installer is McAfee Virus Scan for Windows. This is installed by default, so if you don't want any anti-virus software slowing your system down, you'll need to deselect this from the Customise button at the install stage.

Migration from a real Windows PC to a virtual PC on the Mac has been improved, and is easy to achieve over a network, where Parallels favours the use of a specially built USB cable that emulates a network link.

We tested the graphics capability using our standard gaming test of FEAR, this time running inside a Windows XP Pro SP3 VM, with 1GB of RAM. Testing was carried out on an Apple MacBook Pro 2.4GHz (Early 2008), fitted with an nVidia 8600M graphics card with 256MB video RAM.

With the game set to 'Maximum' quality rendering and a 1024x768 resolution, we recorded average framerates of 16fps. With the quality setting reduced slightly to 'High', this figure rose to 22fps.

We also used WorldBench 6 to get an idea of the real-world system speed of VMware Fusion 3. Note that VMware Inc is also a licensed user of IDG's WorldBench software, and has pointed out that due to inconsistencies in some virtual PC's clock timing, the results gathered may be slightly higher than reality.

On the same MacBook Pro, Fusion 2.06 achieved a score of 71 points. The previous version of Fusion's competitor, Parallels 4, scored 73 points in the same setup.

Moving to the new VMware Fusion 3.0, we saw a final result of 74 points, showing particular improvement in the Autodesk 3ds DirectX section of the test.

In use, Windows VMs felt suitably snappy and responsive, and we were also able to play high-definition video without obvious stuttering.

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