VMware Australia Fusion 1.0
- Fusion's multicore support performs really well, it's a great power user in regards to SMP and 64-bit operating systems
- Fusion's Unity gets rid of the Windows task bar, sometimes copied images doesn't work, the P2V conversion tool doesn't come with Fusion and must be downloaded separately
VMware Fusion is a solid virtualisation package for OS X that builds on VMware's long experience but offers a native Mac look and feel. Support for SMP and 64-bit operating systems make it the top choice for power users. Support for Windows is strong, but some switchers will find the sparse set of GUI-based management tools a turn-off.
Price$ 79.00 (AUD)
Ever since Apple made the move from PowerPC processors to processors made by Intel, the possibility of running Windows on Mac hardware has loomed large. There is, of course, the dual-boot option using Boot Camp, but most of the buzz has been around two virtualisation packages: Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion.
The first question anyone asks us when we tell them about Parallels or Fusion is, "Does it really work?" The answer is an unconditional yes. Both packages do what they promise, and they are solid performers. We wrote this review in Windows-native Office 2007 on our MacBook Pro -- sometimes using Parallels and sometimes using Fusion. We've used both packages extensively for real work over the course of many months, and we don't hesitate to recommend either one.
The value proposition
Virtualisation won't necessarily save you on software costs, but the ultimate benefit is being able to run OS X and Windows (not to mention other operating systems) without having to buy two computers. Thus, Parallels and Fusion can help take the sting out of the premium price of a Mac.
Naturally, to run Windows in either Parallels or Fusion, you'll need to buy not only the virtualisation software but Windows itself. Keep in mind that some Windows editions are not licensed to run in a virtual machine -- notably Vista Home Edition -- so you may need to buy a more expensive edition than you otherwise would.
Of course, if you already own the Windows software you want to run, then it's even easier to become a Mac bigot. For example, the organisation we work for has an enterprise licence for Office on Windows, but not on OS X, so we can load Windows and Office using the enterprise licence and get an Intel-native version of Word that runs on our Mac for a fraction of the cost of Word for OS X.
Making Windows easy
The stated goal of Parallels as well as Fusion is to make life easy for people who want to run Windows on their Mac. Can you run Linux, Solaris, or even FreeBSD? Sure, but you're not in the target demographic. Switchers who love the Mac experience but have "that one Windows" application they can't live without are the sweet spot.
Making Windows easy is mostly about installing the OS. Most people have never installed Windows. Creating a new Windows virtual machine is dead simple in either package. They ask for a few parameters, including the product key, and then take over from there. Having recently installed Windows XP on bare metal, we can tell you that using a virtual machine makes installation easier.
One of the unavoidable facts of virtualisation -- no matter which system you use -- is that virtual machines need "guest OS tools" installed to cooperate with the host OS. This cooperation includes things as important as proper cut-and-paste behaviour and file sharing.
One last note about installation: make sure you turn off the screensaver in your guests. They use the CPU and don't do you any good.
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