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VMWare Fusion 6

Early run through of the newly issued VMWare Fusion 6 virtualisation package.

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So the desktop arms race between VMWare and Parallels continues - certainly in the desktop space anyway. Hot on the heels of
Parallels Desktop 9.0, up drops VMWare Fusion 6.0. My conclusions on the Parallels Desktop 9 piece were that while it’s a great product, I don’t think it’s worth the blurts to upgrade if you have Parallels Desktop 8.0. Apart from maybe better integration to Windows 8/8.1 (Using Stardock/Start8).

Let’s cut to the chase - I’ve come to exactly the same conclusion with VMWare Fusion 6. If you have 5, I just cannot see a compelling reason to pay the money to upgrade to 6. It states it’s ready for Mavericks - here’s the thing though, VMWare Fusion 5 works just fine on the Developer Preview of Mavericks anyway. For clarity, I haven’t tried virtualising Mavericks in a guest machine in Fusion 5, but I have in 6 - and it’s not brilliant. More on that in a minute.

VMWare do say there’s some key improvements with Fusion 6 including:

  • Mavericks supported as guest operating system.
  • Bigger memory/disk footprints - 64Gb RAM, up to 16 cores (Mac Pro support I assume), and 8Tb of storage.
  • Optimised for Haswell.
  • Supports Windows 8.1.
  • Enhanced Dictation.

Optimised/supports/enhanced...Well - who knows how true that is?! All I know is it feels move like Fusion 5, and I can’t see anything compelling to make me want to upgrade.

I do have a positive thing though - for the first time I think running a Desktop client such as Windows 8/Office apps etc. in Fusion feels as snappy as Parallels Desktop 9.0. Typically, I’ve done all of my server virtualisation type stuff within Fusion, but I do my day to day ‘desktop’ type work (I.e. Office type stuff) in Parallels - mainly because I like the integration better, and it ‘feels’ subjectivity quicker. All of a sudden that subjective performance is far closer than it felt previously.

I’ll run some benchmarks in both environments shortly to see if there is any real world difference.

Let’s also quickly cover Mavericks. One of the options in VMWare Fusion 6 is to build an OSX 10.9 Mavericks installation from the
recovery partition of a machine running Mavericks. Yay you may think. Don’t get too excited though - on my Quad Core 16Gb RAM, fast SATA-3 SSD equipped MBP it took nearly three hours to do this installation, and then of course you have to go through all of the updates to Developer Preview.

Seriously, how slow is that?! The actual experience when it’s installed & running though is fairly positive - it’s not quite as fluid as an equivalent Windows sessions but it certainly works well, and it’s great for testing and the like. Also, watch out for the default screen saver in Mavericks. Minimise the window, get on with something else - screen saver kicks in and your machine slows down! Irritating.

As usual I’ve done a video run through of the product below so you can see for yourself.

Just for a piece of clarity though in what can seem like a negative package of thought - VMWare Fusion and Parallels are
great products. If you buy either you’ll have a fantastic desktop virtualisation package that’s fully capable, and performant. My issue is around the upgrade from Fusion 5 to 6, and from Parallels 8 to 9. I just don’t think either are worth the financial outlay - there’s just compelling reason to upgrade in my opinion.

Anyways, the video, and I’ll come back with some benchmarks shortly.






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