Macworld - The latest salvo in the continuing battle of virtualization applications has been fired by VMware, with the release of VMware Fusion 3 Tuesday. Fusion 3 brings a number of interesting new features to what was already a feature-rich application. I've had a chance to use the final Fusion 3 code for the last week or so, and this First Look is based on my experiences with that code.
Fusion 3 works in both Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6, but takes advantage of changes in Snow Leopard to improve graphics and disk performance. If you're running Snow Leopard with the 64-bit kernel enabled, Fusion 3 will be able to offer even better performance with lower overhead. If you're using Windows Vista, 7, or new (created in Fusion 3) XP virtual machines, you'll also see greatly reduced memory footprints
Fusion 3 supports a huge number of guest operating systems, including OS X Server (Leopard and Snow Leopard in both 32-bit and 64-bit modes), as well as the recently-released Windows 7.
One of the limitations of the earlier version of Fusion was that it wasn't capable of running virtual machines in multiple core mode--it could only do so by simulating multiple CPUs. Fusion 3 solves that problem, as the virtualization engine is now fully multi-core aware. You'll still be subject to Windows' sometimes-obscure licensing limitations, such as Windows Home Premium being restricted to one physical CPU. With the newest version of Fusion, you can, for instance, create a two-core virtual machine for Windows 7 Home Premium using one CPU.
A fresh new face
Perhaps the most visually-obvious change in Fusion 3 is the revised Virtual Machine Library screen. On the left you'll see a Home button, along with a list of any installed virtual machines. Click on Home, and you'll see four buttons that make it easy to work with an existing Boot Camp partition, create a new virtual machine, convert a Windows computer, or download a free virtual machine trial version of Windows (XP, Vista, or Server 2008 as of this writing).
In previous versions of Fusion, the image displayed for each virtual machine was a snapshot, updated at regular intervals. In Fusion 3, the image is actually a real-time recreation of what each virtual machine is doing. This makes it really easy to keep an eye on multiple virtual machines--the movies even scale up or down as you make the window larger or smaller.
Put your Windows PC and your Mac on the same network, or connect them together via FireWire or Ethernet, click the convert button, and a very Mac-like migration assistant walks you through the conversion.
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