VMware announced today that its virtualization software for the Mac, VMware Fusion--which has been in beta since December 2006--will start shipping as of Monday, August 6. Fusion joins SWsoft's Parallels Desktop for Mac as available options to run additional, concurrent operating systems on Intel-based Macs as virtual machines.
VMware claims that Fusion supports more than 60 operating systems--both 32- and 64-bit--with dual-core processor support. While some users will benefit from being able to run Novell Netware or Linux as virtual machines on their Intel Macs, the largest user-base will mostly consist of those looking to run Windows Vista or Windows XP. VMware's press release states, "VMware Fusion was designed for Mac enthusiasts looking for a seamless way to run Windows applications on the Mac."
You can run multiple virtual machines simultaneously--each with a different operating system--limited by only system memory, processing power, and hard disk space. A company representative told me about an individual who was successfully running six different operating systems in six different virtual machines simultaneously on a Mac Pro with 16GB of RAM. Virtual Machines are also easily transportable--the company representative explained that he stored a Windows virtual machine on his 4GB iPod, using it on multiple systems.
Fusion and Parallels are not the only ways to run Windows on a Mac. Apple's own Boot Camp, which is currently in public beta and will ship with Mac OS X Leopard, allows you to run Windows on an Intel Mac. However, with Boot Camp you can only boot directly into Windows natively. You cannot run both the Mac OS and Windows simultaneously, as you can with Fusion and Parallels. CodeWeavers takes a different approach with their product, CrossOver Mac. CrossOver allows you to run select Windows applications directly in the Mac OS on Intel Macs, without requiring the presence of a Windows operating system. CrossOver is based on an open-source version of the Windows API, called Wine.
We only just received a shipping version of Fusion and will be putting it through the paces. Check back in a few days to see how Fusion stacks up against the competition.