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VMware's Mac Users Get an (in)Fusion

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Oct 7, 2009


When it comes to enterprise software, Mac users often get the short end of the stick. Desktop virtualization is no exception to this. There is, of course, the ever-popular Parallels, which enables users to run Windows on a Mac OS X server. And for organizations that have invested heavily in VMware and want the same options, there is VMware Fusion.

Virtually Speaking: In the face of Windows 7's approaching official release date and Snow Leopard's recent release, VMware Tuesday unveiled a new version of its desktop virtualization environment for Macs. Is it the glue to a heterogeneous client environment?

On Tuesday, VMware announced VMware Fusion 3 is available for pre-order from the Apple Online Store, VMware's online store and Amazon.com for $79.99. It will begin shipping Oct. 27, and at that time it will also be available from all authorized retailers. Upgrades from previous versions of VMware Fusion to VMware Fusion 3 will be available at that time for $39.99.

The timing couldn't be better. With Snow Leopard out for barely two months and Windows 7 set to ship five days earlier, VMware is aiming to bridge the two operating systems as expeditiously as possible, and it has added a Migration Assistant to make the migration process more streamlined.

Ars Technica provides a nice rundown of how that functionality will work:
... new users to Fusion can easily move a snapshot of their PCs to a virtual machine on the Mac in a very Apple TV-like manner (or as close as the company could get). Users will be able to pop a CD into their Windows machine and start an installer, which will give a four-digit code that can then be entered on their Mac. Once that happens, the migration is done automatically over the network without any further fuss from the user.

According to VMware, this can be done either wirelessly or via an Ethernet connection.

In terms of new features, of which VMware claims there are 50, Fusions 3.0 has 64-bit core engine and native support for the 64-bit kernel— and with that virtualization. It has been optimized for the Snow Leopard OS as well as Windows 7. Windows Aero and Flip 3D are also supported.

Fusion 3.0 also soups up the 3D graphics, with support for OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3. This, no doubt, will excite gamers.

For enterprises with mixed PC environments, or those with one or two adamant Mac addicts that have the clout, VMware Fusion makes a peaceful coexistence possible. Despite their cult-like following and recent growth, Macs maintain a fledgling presence in most organizations. It's arguable whether or not this matters. As virtualization makes the OS less relevant, it may also make desktop conformity less of an issue. Add to that the Mac's OS becoming less tied to hardware, and it's possible to imagine the client side of tomorrow's enterprise being as heterogeneous as the server side is today.

Is there a Mac presence in your organization? Would having a technology "bridge" make it more attractive or feasible?

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization space since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009.

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