Friday, December 19, 2008

Review of Parallels Desktop 3 and VMWare Fusion 2

The first Mac software that I bought since I owned my first MacBook Pro is Parallels Desktop 3.0, and that is 1 year ago. I have been using Parallels since then, upgrading to their latest build every now and then, until I try out VMWare Fusion 2 last week.

I have to say I am very impressed by VMWare Fusion 2 so far!

Here is my personal review between Parallels Desktop 3 and VMWare Fusion 2.

Parallels Desktop 3

* This review is based on Parallels Desktop 3. Parallels Desktop version 4 is out and some of the issues that I have with version 3 might have already been fixed.

Thumbs Up

  • Supports wide variety of popular OS and quite easy to create VMs and install OS.
  • Include the Parallels Transporter that allows you to import VMs created by other products into Parallels compatible VMs - note that this does not always work. I tried to import a VMWare image that contains multiple files but failed. However, a single VMWare image with Windows 2000 works.
  • Constant release/build cycle - You will receive update every now and then. Makes me feel like the $ is well spend.
Thumbs Down
  • Slow, slow and slow. I have a VM with Windows XP installed but it takes ages to start up. During startup, it makes my Macbook Pro freeze occasionally (not even switching between different applications). The response is quite sluggish.
  • Network between the VM and the host (MacBook Pro) seems to be problematic. I can access the internet from VM but when it has problem accessing the LAN machines.
  • Printer setting in the VM also problematic. Because of the problem of accessing LAN machines, the VM cannot see the network printer and hence I have to convert to PDF and copy to my Mac and print it from there - how tedious.
  • Coherence mode have the annoying windows start bar at the bottom.

VMWare Fusion 2

Thumbs Up

  • Speed - Starting up a VM is just like starting real OS on the actual machine. The speed is amazing. I have imported the Parallels VM (Windows XP) into VMWare Fusion and the startup time probably around 10 times faster than Paralles. How amazing! This might be something to do with VMWare Fusion can utilise the 2 CPUs on the Mac. Also when starting the VM, the Mac is not frozen (by the way, I have only 2GB of RAM).
  • Seamless network and printer support - The same VM imported from Parallels and run with VMWare Fusion. The network and printer settings do not work in Parallels but magically just work in VMWare Fusion.
  • Unity mode (Coherence mode in Paralles) seems to work much better. The windows just look like normal Mac window (although the icons might be Windows specific).
  • Convert to full screen and back seems pretty quick and snappy.
  • Haven't try it myself - but apparently you can also play most of the 3D games in Windows (with DirectX support).
  • (I can go on and on with the good things....)

Thumbs Down

  • Nothing major so far - besides the price of VMWare Fusion is a bit pricey

Having use both VM tools, I strongly recommend VMWare Fusion for Mac because it just works! With my blog's philosophy, tools that we used should make our life simpler...

1 comment:

craig iskowitz said...

I've been using Parallels 3.0 for over two years on my MacBook Pro 17" and only experienced the problems you listed when I first installed the software. Some Googling and tweaks to the VM settings and everything has been fine ever since.

Startup time is quick, overall performance has always been excellent, no printing issues and I've tried both locally attached as well as network printers and the networking is fine. I often run with two separate Internet connections simultaneously; Parallels uses the Ethernet port when I'm at a client site and Mac OS X uses an AT&T Wireless USB Dongle. Runs like a champ.

I've already pre-ordered the new MacBook Pro 17" model and will be doing some research on Parallels 4.0 vs VMWare 2.0 to see which I should use going forwards.