VMware Fusion 2 now available

VMware hasn't forgotten about the desktop Mac virtualization market. The company recently launched Fusion 2 with an impressive list of more than 100 new features.

Around the same time that VMware was embracing the Virtual Datacenter OS and the "internal cloud," it was also launching the latest version of its Mac desktop virtualization product, Fusion 2.0.

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"VMware Fusion 2 makes it easy and fun for every Mac user to run the Windows applications they need while enjoying the Mac experience they want," said Pat Lee, group manager for consumer products, VMware. "Our goal is to break down the walls between Windows and the Mac by creating a user-friendly, Mac-native experience that lets our customers run any Windows application, seamlessly and safely, on the Mac. We want our customers to see that Windows really is better on the Mac."

According to VMware, Fusion 2 adds more than 100 new features and enhancements to the product, and they are claiming to deliver the most advanced Mac virtualization software available today. Today, perhaps, because virtualization platform vendor Parallels is planning to release its Desktop for Mac 4 product soon enough. While the heat between these two companies in the Mac space has cooled down somewhat during the recent months, things could be heating up again real soon.

Among the changes in Fusion 2 is a new take on protection. In addition to being able to take multiple snapshots in any number of states, VMware has also added "AutoProtect" which automatically records snapshots of running VMs at regular intervals. They've also added virus protection. OK, so it isn't some cool, new cyber agent type thing, it's a 12-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus. Still, not bad.

As far as display goes, if you happen to have 10 monitors lying around, guess what? You now have the ability to run applications on all 10 displays with Fusion's multiple monitor support. Graphics have also been enhanced. VMware has added new 3D graphics support and compatibility with DirectX 9.0c and Shader Model 2 for software and games.

VMware claims that Fusion 2 supports an impressive list of more than 90 operating systems, including Windows Vista and Windows XP. (Don't forget, you still need to purchase separate operating system licenses.) This is one of the advantages that VMware has over competitors. And now, they also offer experimental support for Mac OS X Server 10.5 (Keep in mind this does not include the standard edition of the OS). In addition, users can also now operate virtual machines with up to four virtual CPUs (Remember, the guest operating system will need to support that number of processors as well).

Feature favorite Unity is still around, breaking down the walls between Windows and Mac OS X, transforming Windows applications to work seamlessly within OS X like native applications. Users can launch any Mac file with any Windows application, seamlessly share data and folders between Windows and Mac, and even custom map the Mac keyboard to special keystrokes for Windows applications.

VMware Fusion 2 is a free, downloadable upgrade for all VMware Fusion 1.x customers. So what if you don't have Fusion 1.x? Well, you can buy it outright at retail for $79.99. But if you own a competitor product and you feel the need to switch, you can grab a $30 rebate offer until the end of the year.

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