VMware updates Mac desktop virtualization with Fusion 3

50 new features and better performance promised to those running Windows on a Mac

The battle to put Microsoft Windows on a Mac machine continues. The latest entry into this Mac virtualization scuffle comes from VMware with the release of Fusion 3. VMware continues to add features and functionality to an already feature-rich and popular desktop virtualization platform -- all told, VMware claims to have added more than 50 additional features to the product, making it "easier than ever to run Windows applications with Mac simplicity."

VMware seems to have taken a page out of Parallels' book and that company's "Switch to Mac Edition." VMware Fusion 3 offers a new built-in migration feature called Migration Assistant for Windows, which will help users move their entire Windows PC (including applications, files, documents, and settings) to their Macs with the help of a simple Ethernet or FireWire cable. They'll even move it wirelessly. And because this is indeed a battle, what use would a new feature like this be if you can't take a shot at your competitor? Parallels did it first, but VMware is claiming to be more than twice as fast in this process as its competitors.

[ Parallels bundle helps PC Windows users make the transition over to Mac OS X and retain their existing data and programs. | Parallels builds on cloud leadership with new virtualization software. ]

Built from the ground up for the Mac, Fusion 3 works with Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6, but it really makes a difference when you are running Snow Leopard. The new version takes advantage of Snow Leopard's advanced architecture with a new 64-bit core engine and native support for the 64-bit kernel, and with it Fusion users will see improvements to both the graphics and the disk performance. That's better performance with even lower overhead.

One of the earlier limitations of Fusion has been solved as the virtualization engine is now fully multicore aware. Support for four-way SMP has been added to help maximize performance, and for an even bigger boost, try Fusion 3 with the Nehalem-based Mac Pro and the latest iMac machines.

Gamers will be pleased to know that the graphics have also been enhanced. Better DirectX support has been added, which allows for Windows Aero and Flip 3D effects in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Gamers can now take advantage of OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3 to play their favorite 3-D Windows games without having to reboot their system. Graphics performance in 2-D mode was also improved, as was the performance on larger and multidisplay monitors.

Fusion 3 also allows Mac users to run Windows applications "the Mac way." A new "Always On" Application Menu gets rid of the Windows Start menu from the Mac and lets the user find and launch Windows applications more like a Mac application, even if Fusion isn't running. You can cycle through open Windows apps with "command `", quit individual Windows applications with "command q", or use Dock Expose with Windows apps.

VMware Fusion 3 is available now at the VMware online store for $79.99. Previous VMware Fusion owners should check with VMware for special upgrade pricing or perhaps even free upgrades based on existing subscription or support contracts.

This story, "VMware updates Mac desktop virtualization with Fusion 3," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com.

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