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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've been using each version of VMWare and Parallels for about 3.5 years now, ever since I got my first Macbook Pro back in 2009. I'm on my fourth Macbook now, and still using them. Which one I use doesn't even really depend much on features, since they both seem to parallel each other (no pun intended) very closely with each new version. Sometimes I've been on VMWare, and then switched to Parallels. I've done the switch back as well. Usually it's a pricing issue. VMware seems to have a habit of not giving a good price break for existing owners to upgrade to the current version. There's a long thread on one of their forums from the bump to V4 where everyone was trying to get a break, especially those of us who bought it just a few months prior to the release of the new version. Parallels was offering a much better price to go to their new version as a competitive upgrade, which was the reason I jumped from one to the other at that point.

Historically, my systems always seemed to run better on VMWare. It always seemed just a little faster than Parallels. So I was interested when this came up on the Vine program as an option, as I am using the current Parallels, and wanted to do a direct comparison. So here's what I found.

Now, this is all running on a new 2012 Retina Macbook Pro with a quad core i7 at 2.3GHz with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD drive. I have a Windows 7 Ultimate VM, so what I did was copy that to my desktop on my mac, so I could import that into VMWare Fusion. I then removed all the Parallel tools from it, installed the VMWare tools. Activated it again, and I now have the EXACT same install of Windows 7 running on both virtual platforms. Both on the EXACT same hardware. Makes it really easy to do a 1 to 1 comparison.

For VMware, the first plus is that it shipped with a USB stick (1gb) AND the optical disc - this is great for those of us with systems that don't have optical drives.

The first minus - some help content missing and others inconsistent. During setup and configuration, some pages have a "?" there for more info about the options and what they mean, and when clicked, it just said "help not present for this". Three other times I tried the exact same question mark to find out more info, and it worked the third, but not the second or the fourth. Very odd, but hardly a showstopper as I'm a techie, and we're not allowed to use help pages or read manuals. ;)

After the initial migration and boot, the VMWare Windows 7 virtual machine went absolutely bananas for about three minutes - mouse going everywhere in the VM on it's own, randomly clicking things and opening and closing things. Finally it stopped and I was able to get in there to actually remove the old parallels tools and install the vmware tools. So if you do a migration, and this happens, just sit back and let it settle down.

Immediately I was far less impressed with graphics performance in vmware - resizing the Windows desktop is a completely different experience compared to the current version of Parallels - jumpy, skippy, blackout during the middle part of it, compared to simply a smooth resize with Parallels as it's dragged to a larger or smaller size, and the quick black screen only after you're done resizing and it finalizes the new resolution. You can easily see the desktop as it resizes in Parallels, but VMware just was too skippy.

It is also a 50% longer load time for my windows 7 VM using VMWare compared to Parallels - over 12 seconds to get to login screen with Vmware, under 8 seconds to get to login screen with Parallels. Counting both from when I double click the app to launch it.

Immediately after all was running, I got a prompt to upgrade to VMWare 5.0.1 when launching "for real" the first time. It promptly downloaded automatically for me, updated itself, and relaunched with no issues. But even after the update it's 50% slower to boot.

I ran the Windows performance rating while windowed, with a few normal things like Safari and Mac's mail program open, but none of them as the active window, just idling in the background. With VMWare it shows a base score of 6.0, which is the lowest speed, from both graphics and gaming graphics. Processor was 7.4, RAM was 7.9 and disk was 7.9. On Parallels, on the other hand, improves some and lessens others. Graphics for Parallels went up, from 6.0 in VMWare to 6.9 in Parallels, giving me a higher base score. However, Processor stayed the same at 7.4 and RAM stayed the same at 7.9 but Hard Disk dropped from 7.9 down to 7.5 - so overall Parallels was still the higher score. I reran the tests again and the numbers were consistent through both. These were both ran on the same hardware, one after the other, with the same background apps idling. Both VM's are configured for 4 CPU cores and 4GB of RAM (so I'm not running them concurrently obviously). During the test, both got my CPU up to 214-215 degrees F during the tail end of the test.

In VMWare, it's 10 seconds from selecting "shut down" to the VM actually being off. With Parallels, it's 6 seconds.

Now, the exact same virtual machine (remember I imported the existing one into VMware) in Parallels is 24.7GB, and in VMware it is 23.34. The Parallels App itself is 778 MB on my system, VMWare app is 700.4 MB. So there's a little less disk usage all around with VMware.

They both have similar features for running the Windows apps as if they were native Mac apps, showing up on the Mac task bar like any other program, rather than in a virtual "windowed" view of the Windows desktop. VMware calls it Unity, Parallels calls it Coherence. Both really work about the same, and both have the same annoyance - with the curved, rounded corners of programs running in Windows 7, both Parallels and VMware aren't able to render them with that smooth curve. You still see the smooth curve of whatever the window is, but there's little ghost corners off of those curves, as they are rendering straight lines right to the corners for these windows whether they're straight lined themselves. So there's always those annoying little points you can see around the Windows programs using EITHER virtualization product in those modes. Personally it's enough to put me off of it, but I prefer keeping Windows running in a window anyway, since I have the VM's for specific networking tasks and really don't need to share the interface with my Mac. Parallels offers a nice handy "exit coherence" with a right click of the dock icon, but VMware forces you to go back up to the status bar "View" menu item to do the same.

Both offer ways to access files and programs between the operating systems, and both work equally well. But VMware seems to handle "Drag and drop" to the windows desktop more consistently than Parallels. Sometimes with Parallels I have to drag and drop three or four times to get it to actually copy the file I'm trying to drag from my Finder window to the Windows desktop. VMware does it the first time, every time.

Both offer similar networking options for bridged, shared, or host only. Both have the same random inconsistency when you have it set to bridge "default adapter", and sometimes they just don't hit it. Both support systems also recommend you specify an adapter as one of the options to resolve the sometimes flakey networking. SInce my Retina MBP has no built in Ethernet, I just have it set to use the Wifi bridged. I manually switch to my Thunderbolt Gigabit when needed, but since it's not built in and I rarely use it, leaving it on the wifi has kept it consistent in both platforms.

VMware seems to enjoy distorting my dock on the Mac side when it launches, Parallels seems far less "intrusive" and doesn't cause graphical mayhem in the same way.

All in all, either program will work for you if you have to run windows on your Mac. Both offer a very similar feature set for "normal" users. I haven't come across anything in Parallels that I couldn't run in VMware or vice versa. I do have Realfight (an R/C flying simulator) and it runs great in either one, so both handle stressful graphics very well. The only reason I'm giving VMware 4 stars rather than 5 is because Parallels has consistently done better on upgrade pricing for existing users, and competitive upgrade pricing. And the fact that it starts up and shuts down considerably quicker than VMware does (which is the opposite of my experiences with all previous versions of both). But other than those factors, this version of VMware has shown it's every bit as reliable and stable as it ever has been.

All in all a fantastic program, and something that makes it SO much easier to migrate from a PC to a Mac if you ever get to that point. When I first migrated, I ran boot camp (where you boot DIRECTLY to the WIndows OS and run it as any PC on the mac hardware, no Mac OS X running at all) because of my Realflight program - it ran best when not virtualized. But as the virtual programs got better with graphics, I was able to switch to only running Windows virtualized, which saves me space on the drive and just makes things that much easier.

I switched to a Macbook Pro because of the hardware, not the software. OS X is great for some things, but I still prefer Windows for a lot of things. And software like this is what makes it so easy to live in both computing worlds. No need to be ONLY one platform or another, this way you can have the best of both worlds.
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VINE VOICEon September 27, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you have never used VMware Fusion 4, you may prefer to obtain version 5. If however you have been running VMware Fusion 4 for Mac OS X, I strongly suggest you try running it with the latest versions of Mac OS X (Lion, Mountain Lion - 10.7, 10.8). If it works for you, there is no pressing issue to upgrade to v5. VMware Fusion 5 boasts of improved compatibility with Lion and Mountain Lion and it automatically recognizes more versions of Windows (Windows 8 & Windows Server 2012), but not much more. To me, that is an update. It should have been a newer version of v4.
Don't get me wrong, v5 works well. To me, it is just not enough of an upgrade to warrant a new major version number. A new version should boast a bevy of new features.
VMware Fusion is a great OS emulator for the Mac. It still does not recognize all Windows versions (Windows Home Server 2011 is probably the most obvious omission.) It also does not support Mac OS workstation versions earlier than Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).
It is a well put-together product, but, you really need to decide if it is worth the cost of an upgrade. VMware Fusion 4 is still quite capable of running well; v5 just makes things a bit easier if you want to run a newer version of Windows.
VMware Fusion 5 for MAC OS X comes with a disc and a 1 GB USB flash drive. Both media types contain the installer, however, you will save some time if you just go to the website (VMWARE dot com) and download the latest version. There is already a newer version available than inside the package. You will still need the license key from inside the box, however, to install and to register for support.
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VINE VOICEon May 10, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Here's the bottom line: I ran VMware Fusion 5 on my 2010 MacBook Pro, MacOS 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), Intel Core 2 Duo and it worked. It worked for Windows 7 (Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit (OEM) System Builder DVD 1 Pack), Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Access, and Visio. That's the simple answer. And frankly, there are so many reviews available for VMware Fusion 5 -- and its value relative to its competitor, Parallels -- that there is virtually (no pun intended) nothing more I can add on the technical end. The program works. It has quirks with graphics. It can be persnickety with networking. If you need it, buy it. That's the bottom-line and you can learn that anywhere.

So, instead, let's review whether you actually need this program. (These comments are for productivity applications; I can't comment on games.)

If you are a die-hard Mac user (I am), then the only reason to buy this program is if you need to run a program (or, as the kids say, "application") that only runs under Windows. For example, your employer may require that you use a company program for which there is no Mac alternative. (This is vanishingly rare.) Or, you may need to use data from programs for which there are no Mac versions, such as Microsoft Access or Visio. (But be sure you NEED such programs, because cross-platform alternatives such as Filemaker Pro ( Filemaker Pro 12) may make your life easier.)

So, you've decided you need to create a "virtual PC" inside your Mac. Do you want Fusion or Parallels? It doesn't matter. Both work. And, saying that, both have quirks. This is unavoidable. I like Fusion, but your experience will be unpredictable because the quirks relate to your Mac's model, the Mac operation system, various system configurations, and the effect of other installed programs. Or, just the nature of computer gremlins.

Some quirks are relatively predictable. You can predict there will be some minor graphic issues. I found this particularly true when running in Fusion's "Unity" mode that allows Windows and Mac programs to be in the same menu. And there will always be the risk of annoyance when trying to use network features (WiFi, Internet access). But, for the most part, if you are able to follow the installation instructions (which are not more complicated than other complex programs like Microsoft Office), you will have a perfectly serviceable "PC in a Mac."

So, Fusion is great at what it does, but here's something many people forget: you actually have to buy a copy of a Windows program, whether that is Windows 7 or 8. Fusion ALLOWS you to run Windows, it doesn't INCLUDE Windows. Next, you have to buy a copy of the program you want to run under Windows. You may own (license) Office for Mac (Office Mac Home and Student 2011 - 1PC/1User [Download] ) - but that doesn't mean you own (license) a Windows version of MS Office (Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 (1PC/1User) [Download]).You need to buy that separately. Oh, and don't forget anti-virus and anti-malware software (see below).

There is also "opportunity cost" in terms of time. While VMware Fusion does a great job running Windows, if you have not worked in the PC world, you now have to learn about Windows basics. That means you can try to learn using the Microsoft website, but when that frustrates you (and it will) you will likely want to buy a third party book explaining how to use Windows. It all takes time.

As I alluded to earlier, you will also have to think about security: viruses and malware. If you will have your Windows "virtual machine" access the Internet, you become susceptible to all the malware and viruses that are prevalent for Windows. That means you will probably need to add anti-virus/anti-malware software to your list of additional purchases. (Some good ones are free.)

The point is this: you really should NEED (not just want) to run a specific Windows program before bothering to buy VMware Fusion (or Parallels). If you can get away with using a cross platform application that lets you share data, you may never need to run Windows, and never need Fusion.

But what if you are thoroughly familiar with Windows and the PC world and have moved to the Mac world? Chances are, the majority of your work will be cross-platform. But, if you absolutely need to keep working within Windows, Fusion will let you do so and you will probably be very happy with it. Just remember, you still need licensed copies of Windows and your software.
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on September 17, 2012
I upgraded to version 5 a few weeks ago. As of version 5.01, it is not as stable as the previous version 4.x and I was forced to downgrade. Fortunately older versions are available on their support site. I recommend taking a pass on this upgrade unless you need more speed in 3d applications, and even then you should wait until the code stabilizes.
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on September 19, 2012
I have used VMware products for many years now...including their Fusion product since version 1. I was actively using Fusion version 4.1.3 to run many VM's on several mac's...all flavors of Windows. I had no issues.

I purchased and installed Fusion version 5.01 to a clean build of OSX Mountain Lion 10.8.1. I installed no other applications except Fusion. I immediately ran into many issues. Not show-stopper issues...but very annoying ones nonetheless. It became so bad in fact; that I decided to restore my VM's and roll my mac's back to Fusion version 4.1.3 just to regain a stable environment.

I am now waiting for a new patch build to try version 5 again. My advice at this point is not to purchase version 5 until at least another patch level has been released. I am disappointed with this release but will most likely stick with the product as I have had good luck with it in the past. I believe this version was simply released too early to head-off the release of Parallels version 8.
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on December 27, 2012
I've been using VMs since Apple pulled the trigger and went with Intel CPUs. My first VM app was Fusion 2, followed by Fusion 3.... When it came time to upgrade, I decided to try Parallels Desktop 7 on my then-new early 2011 Macbook Pro (specs below). In short, the performance was not very good, and it had a tendency to lock up the machine. I noticed little "prl_" apps in my Activity Monitor that remained loaded long after Desktop 7 was closed. Finally, when Fusion 5 came out, I took the plunge and went back to using it.

a) Fusion does not leave any apps running in the background, before or after, you run the app. In short, once you quit Fusion, there are no residual related apps running in the background. I really like this--I got tired of little "PRL" apps being loaded upon bootup whether or not I was running Parallels.

b) Speedy. I run Windows XP Professional for some legacy software I need to run on occasion. I can "freeze" XP exactly where it is, quit Fusion, and reload it rather quickly. The speed of reboots of XP is pretty remarkable.

c) I love that Fusion doesn't install itself everywhere on the machine as did Parallels. If you want to uninstall, just drag/drop it into the trash. Parallels requires its own uninstall utility to properly remove the it. Fusion just does an all-around better job of keeping things tidy than Parallels did, and I'm very pleased with it.

Machine Specs:
Early '11 MBP (Quad Core i7 2.2 Ghz, 8GB RAM, 750GB 5400RPM HDD)
Mac OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion
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on November 20, 2012
I upgraded from VMFusion 4 with the promise of being faster. For the first day it worked great until my monitor went to sleep. It kicks me out of unity mode and pushes both windows into one app window rendering it useless. It also causes the system to panic at which time it uses 100% of the processor and does not quit until I restart windows. I originally thought maybe this could be fixed by upgrading to Mountain Lion.. That did not work. So I wiped my Macbook Pro clean and reinstalled. I created a new windows 7 machine. Same problem. So I figured that VMFusion would release an update that would correct the problem. After a long wait they finally released an update.. The update did not correct this issue.

VMFusion 5 also causes the system to periodically panic. I notice generally within minutes because the computer fan kicks on. In many cases I have to do a force quit to kill the process followed by a reboot.

I have also experienced several other smaller problems that I wont go into detail other than when in unity applications will disappear and Windows popup warnings will be lost in background.

WARNING.. DO NOT UPGRADE FROM VMFusion 4. I would examine other options before purchasing this software. To date there has been only 1 update that did not correct any of the issues I have seen.
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on December 11, 2012
I ordered this to run Windows XP pro on my 21.5'' iMac (new super thin model). After doing some research comparing Parallel v Fusion v Virtual Box v Bootcamp, I settled on Fusion. While I never have tried the other products I can honestly say this a great program. The ability to seamlessly switch between Mac OS and Windows XP is great. My primary use is for my accounting software as I wasn't happy with the choices for Mac. Also as a new Mac user I can honestly say that this is a simple program to use. It was actually easier and quicker to install Windows XP with Fusion 5 than on my PC. As far as concerns with the speed of the virtual machine, I set the program to use more memory with hopes of negating any issues, which seemed to worked. You can also increase the amount of access to the CPU for the virtual machine if your running intensive programs, though I chose to go with the recommended. The only thing I have noticed is the speed of the internet accessed from the vm. That may be caused though by my choice of a more secure and less open setting between Mac OS and the VM's OS.
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on March 17, 2013
It general I'm impressed with the latest version. I use VMware fusion to run Ubuntu Linux on my MacBook Pro, not Windows. With this version of Fusion, the graphics is much faster, though still a ways to go compared to booting natively in Linux. One issue I've run into is that the display resolution is reset every time that I suspend and restart the virtual machine. Sometimes my MacBook Pro is hooked up to an external monitor and sometimes not. I want resolution to remain the same and there doesn't seem to be a way without resetting it every time. I've also had some issues with getting the key mappings to work, i.e. making the caps lock key an extra ctrl key. Despite these issues, I'm still very happy with this new version of VMware Fusion.
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on March 25, 2013
My Windows PC was in dire need of an OS reinstall and I had a Mac Mini serving as my household media server, so I elected to make the Mac Mini my new primary machine. The problem was that I'm an avid Quicken user and have an inventory of Windows software that I was either not thrilled with replacing or were simply not available on the Mac (did you know that there is practically NOTHING out there for doing your finances with a Mac? Not quite ready for the online Minted app.).

There are a couple of ways you can set this up where you either isolate your VM guest from the Mac Host or you can share your file systems - it's up to you what your needs are. For myself I wanted to have the Mac responsible for all backups (using the Time machine and an external 3 TB USB drive) as well as be the authoritative source of all information. I wanted to be able to share pictures, music and other data between the guest and host.

What *really* impressed me was that my Windows software is available for use by my Mac programs. In Evernote for Mac, right clicking on a PDF file or an Excel spreadsheet allows me to open these documents in the application in the Windows VM where I do what I need to do and then, when I save the document they are updated in the Mac application seamlessly.
The key is to explicitly open each of these apps from Mac's Launchpad once and from then on the apps work perfectly (they WON'T open from the context menu before you do that Launchpad step).

I recognize that I am not using my VMWare fusion to it's fullest potential in that I only have 2 VMs set up for it and I'm currently not guesting a bunch of Linux or other VMs in addition to Windows but for now this setup meets my needs and lets me keep the household finances and my own photography and other pursuits going just fine as I adjust and migrate to the Mac platform.
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