First Look: VMware Fusion 1.1

First look at Fusion 1.1

Palo Alto-based VMware was founded in 1998, and has since developed virtualization products that it says are in use with 100% of Fortune 500 companies. It could be said that VMware has written the book on virtualization, and with Apple's recent switch to Intel chipsets, the company has a new frontier for its products and services. With Fusion's first incarnation making a solid impression on users, and outpacing several products that have been on the market for several revisions, users anxiously awaited to see what else the company had up its sleeves.

On November 12th, Fusion 1.1 was released, and with it a host of new features. Eager to introduce the application to new users, VMware has included a beta of its new migration utility that allows users to import virtual machine disk images from competing programs such as Parallels. Direct X v9.x compatibility has also made an appearance for Windows XP-based virtual machines, while application performance has been increased overall. Boot Camp users that have Vista installed can now boot virtual machines rather than having to dedicate an additional fragment of their drive to a Vista boot image. Unity - Fusion's view mode that allows virtual windows to exist beside their native counterparts - has been improved, and international support is now present for French-, German-, and Japanese-speaking customers.

Unless you're transitioning from a competing product, the first step with setting up Fusion is to create a virtual machine with which Windows will be installed upon. Thankfully, this process is straightforward, requiring little more than pressing "Continue" until the process begins. Users can input the Windows serial number in as part of the setup process so that installation is streamlined, instead of installing part of Windows, only to have to babysit a few windows so that the installation will proceed.

Fusion's install window

Once the install is finished, Windows just requires its usual activation methods to function properly. VMware includes a set of tools to be installed that further integrate the Mac and the virtual machine. These tools allow, among other things, drag and drop functionality between the two desktops, making it very easy to get a file where it needs to be. Shared folders and Home Folder access also give users a large amount of flexibility when working with their files.

Vista installing VMware Tools

Absolutely zero network setup is required in most cases; Fusion made all the necessary links, providing instant internet access and I was able to see devices on my network without difficulty. Everything in the environment ran as it should, leaving me free to begin installing software and customizing the virtual machine to my preferences.

Transitioning a Parallels volume using the VMware Importer is quite straightforward, requiring the user to drop the folder containing the virtual machine onto the application's window and hit import. Fusion-specific options such as what size to adapt the drive to, and whether or not to split the disk image into multiple 2GB partitions. After the conversion is done, the app gives you the chance to launch Fusion with the newly converted image.

Parallels disk image converted to Fusion

Unity is a view mode that removes most of the Windows UI, allowing programs and windows from both the Mac OS and Windows to coexist. This feature can be of great help to a person who uses many different applications simultaneously in both environments, rather than flicking in and out of full screen mode.

Windows panel on the Leopard desktop

VMware has experienced a great start on the Macintosh platform with Fusion, and has rounded out the application nicely with its first major revision. Even with a few experimental features, Fusion shows great promise.
  1. stereointeractive 11/14, 05:43pm

    Can VMware Fusion use the same windows image as the boot camp partition? Which should be installed first, and if you register Windows from within boot camp will Fusion recognize it?

  1. mminds 11/14, 06:19pm

    VMware Fusion will automatically recognize a Boot Camp partition but after I installed Fusion for my Boot Camp partiton I found that it had removed the Apple supplied video driver (and probably other drivers) and replaced it with a generic driver. I tried re-installing Apple's Boot Camp drivers from the Leopard DVD and all seems to be working now, but I haven't used it enough yet to know if this will cause problems.

  1. Paul Selden 11/14, 11:50pm

    The new version won't install for me. Installation fails after taking the serial number. Anyone else with this problem?

  1. testudo 11/15, 07:36am

    Can VMware Fusion use the same windows image as the boot camp partition?

    Yes, although I've been told (don't have the disk space to try it out, and swapping out my MBP drive appears to be a lot more work then it should be) that running it from a disk image is faster then off the boot camp partition.

    Which should be installed first, and if you register Windows from within boot camp will Fusion recognize it?

    Install boot camp first, then windows, then run VMWare, and tell it to run your windows partition.

    You should authorize windows from boot camp first, as well. If you're running XP, VMWare should have no problem with wanting you to re-authorize it. Running Vista, it keeps asking me, but it looks like that might be fixed in v1.1. (Ignore the article, VMWare ran Vista off my boot camp partition otherwise without issue).

  1. Yokohama 11/17, 09:24am

    Can I use the Windows XP version that comes with MS's Virtual PC with Fusion? Or do I need to buy another copy of the OS? Can I use this XP version with any of the other programs that enable you to use Windows on the Mac?

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