- 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)
Coherence and Unity
Both Parallels and Fusion have optional modes for fully integrating Windows applications into the OS X experience. Called Coherence in Parallels and Unity in Fusion, the integration hides the Windows desktop and displays Windows application windows side-by-side with those of OS X applications. In short, Windows apps weave into the OS X desktop as if they were native Mac applications.
Users who like the OS X experience and who plan to run multiple Windows applications will prefer Coherence or Fusion to the old way, which drops the entire Windows desktop into a single OS X window. In any case, switching between the two modes is easy.
Both Coherence and Unity work well with oddly shaped windows, and they display drop shadows on windows to mimic the OS X look and feel as closely as possible. Both Parallels and Fusion support OS X's Expose feature, so the VM windows will appear in Expose tile and thumbnail displays, and you can dock Windows applications for launching and minimisation.
Parallels' Coherence hides the Windows desktop, but keeps the Windows task bar for a familiar interface to the Start menu. Fusion's Unity gets rid of the Windows task bar and substitutes its own "launcher" window for the Start menu. We prefer the Parallels approach, finding it more natural. One thing to note: Coherence and Fusion don't work with Linux or any other operating system but Windows.
Parallels offers a feature called SmartSelect that lets you assign file types from either operating system to the application (Windows or Mac) you want to use. For example, you can set Word documents to be always opened by Office 2007 in Windows so that double-clicking a Word file, even in Finder, launches Word in Windows. Similarly, you could set it up so that clicking a hyperlink anywhere, even in a Windows application, opened the Web site in Safari on the Mac.
Both Parallels and Fusion mount the host file system in Windows. Parallels also makes the Windows file system available as a disk in Finder and provides an offline file system browser for getting files from a Windows disk image when the guest OS isn't fired up.
Regardless of which package you use, one thing the virtual environment can't do is make Windows programs look like Mac programs. One example: Windowing operations in OS X are controlled with the standard OS X traffic light buttons, while those in Windows use the red X box.
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