As a tech enthusiast, I’m often asked to give assistance to friends and family when they have technology questions or problems. Recently (1.5 years ago), I switched entirely to macs. I really do love them. They look nice and they work excellently. They last long and have good resale value. One thing that I have to do though, is stay familiar with the world of Windows. I’m also a big fan of Linux. Virtualization becomes essential for me.
VmWare recently released a new version of their windows on mac virtualization software. I’m not new to Virtual Machines. I started using them a lot back when VMWare made the free VMWare Player available and Microsoft did the same for Virtual PC. I had previously been using Fusion 2.1. I decided to update to version 3.0 because I could do it for $19.99. I don’t regret it either.
Fusion 3.0 comes with lots of new features. The first thing that I notices was a great increase in speed. I found that my new XP vm was quite snappier. Keep in mind, I’m running this on a 13″ unibody MBP. I’ve upgraded to 4gb of ram which really can make the difference. I really like how well the vm runs with only 1gb allocated to it though. Windows 7 worked great with 1gb, but even better with 2gb.
I’m not much of a gamer, and you really don’t have to be to enjoy the new graphic enhancements. In Windows 7 and Vista, you can now use the Aero effects. The capability was there in version 2.0, but the driver wasn’t digitally signed. It is now, and you can enjoy the aero effects. I found that with my measly integrated graphics, I could run Aero pretty well. It’s wasn’t great, but it was about equivalent to my old PC with integrated graphics running aero on vista. One of the complaints that I have read about was that fusion only supports OpenGL 2.x in Windows XP. That’s both true and false. Out of the box, you can only use OpenGL 1.4 in Vista and 7. However, if you uninstall the driver, reboot, and reinstall it, and reboot again, it loads a different driver for 7 that does not let you run the aero effects, but does let you use OpenGL 2.1.
Fusion 3 is also optimized for Snow Leopard. I’m actually running SL with 64-bit extensions on. Everything is working great!
I still find unity to be kind of blah. You can see the windows desktop when moving around windows. It really takes away from the experience. But, like previous versions, you can very easily use Unity with Linux . . . well at least with Gnome and Ubuntu.
One feature I find cool, but not really useful to me, is the new menu bar. I was shocked to see that it runs even when no vm is running. You can turn this off. When on, it remembers the applications in your start menu. What really shocked me was that if also created a menu for my Ubuntu VM. I included some screenshots here.