VMware Fusion 2.0

VMware Fusion 2.0 just came out. I’d been using the previous version, and 2.0 had been out as a beta, but I wanted to wait until it was more stable.

What is it? It is VM (Virtual Machine) software. Normally to run Windows on my Mac, I’d need to dual boot, and on startup choose if I wanted to run Windows or Mac. With VM software, I can run Mac OS, and then run a virtual machine within that which has Windows on it.

It’s a similar *idea* to emulation, where you have one emulated computer running virtually inside another, but with emulation, the hardware is different, so the physical machine is emulating the virtual machine. With VM software, the hardware is the same, so the virtual machine just takes a portion of the CPU and memory, and has access to the other devices as well. Some items you have to choose, like the DVD drive can only be used by the real machine or the virtual machine, not both at once, so you have to toggle which OS has the drive.

The end result is that I can have Mac OS X and Windows running at the same time on the same machine. You can also run apps in a mode where you can have Mac and Windows apps running on the same screen, with the windows intermixed, but I prefer to have each OS have it’s own desktop, and flip between them using Spaces, the virtual desktop app on OS X.

So what’s new with version 2.0 of Fusion?


2.0 adds DirectX 9 support, which means now many 3D games can run in a virtual machine (previously, I had been forced to dual-boot to play games). I tested it out by playing Galactic Civilizations II and Sam & Max, they worked great. I noticed a couple minor graphic glitches on GCII, but nothing that got in the way of gameplay. Sam & Max may have had slight animation/speech sync issues, but the animation/speech synching was always pretty loose in that game anyway, so I’m not sure. Didn’t affect gameplay.

I actually hadn’t been playing many PC games because dual-booting was kind of annoying… now that I can play some of them in a virtual machine, I’ll probably play more of them.

Parallels vs. VMware Fusion

I’ve been using Parallels on my MacBook to run a virtual machine with Windows XP on it. Mostly for my Sony eBook reader software and Family Tree Maker (Mac is lacking when it comes to genealogy software).

I was reading some reviews of VMware’s new entry to the market, Fusion.

Fusion has two big advantages over Parallels:

1) it is written in Cocoa, so is completely native and fast.
2) it can use a BootCamp partition as its “virtual” drive.

So after reading about 10 reviews, all of which said essentially “after trying Fusion, I stopped using Parallels”, I decided to take the plunge and switch my MacBook over.

It was a straightforward setup:
1) install BootCamp
2) install Windows XP
3) install Fusion

Although it’s an easy install, it’s time-consuming. I didn’t have time to test out how it compared to Parallels yet. But it *seems* snappier…

Maybe tonight I will re-install XP on my overly cluttered Dell machine… and after that, maybe I’ll install XP on my cat. Mrrow!