Upping the ante in the ongoing virtualization competition with Parallels, VMware has released the second public beta of VMware Fusion 2. The beta, available for free download, adds features to the Unity Mac-Windows integration technology, virtual machine snapshots to protect against problems, enhanced video capabilities and performance, and more. You can read more about it and view a demo video on VMware's Team Fusion blog.
The most obvious changes in VMware Fusion 2 Beta 2 appear with Unity 2.0, which now enables application sharing between the Mac and Windows, thus letting you launch any Mac file with a Windows application. Unity 2.0 also goes beyond simple folder sharing by mirroring key folders between the two environments, such that Windows uses Mac OS X's Desktop, Documents, Music, and Pictures folders as the Desktop, My Documents, My Music, and My Pictures folders, respectively. Other Unity 2.0 improvements include custom keyboard and mouse mapping between the two environments, better reliability with shared folders, and improved copy and paste that can handle up to 4 MB of data, including styled text. Additional usability improvements include support for Leopard's Quick Look, glowing icons to indicate activity, better keyboard compatibility with Quicken and Google Earth, and better integration with Boot Camp's support for 64-bit Windows Vista.
Since many Windows virtual machines are used for testing, VMware added the capability to take, save, and manage multiple snapshots, making it easier to restore a virtual machine to a pre-damaged state. Plus, Fusion 2 can now back up virtual machines automatically at specified intervals with AutoProtect snapshots.
Video support has been improved, with support for 1080p high definition video in Windows XP and Vista, better 3D support, and the capability to switch in and out of full screen view while playing games.
Now that Apple has eased the licensing restrictions on Mac OS X Server (see "Apple to Allow Virtualization of Leopard," 2007-10-31), you can create a virtual machine containing Mac OS X Server 10.5. The beta also includes support for Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, provides Unity view in Linux, and offers a Linux Easy Install that can install VMware Tools for a number of popular Linux distributions. You can also now resize virtual disks. Finally, this public beta provides experimental support for up to 4 virtual CPUs in a virtual machine and offers a command-line interface for scripting VMware Fusion.
Keep in mind that this is beta software and should not be used for mission-critical tasks. When Fusion 2 is finally released, it will be a free downloadable upgrade for all Fusion 1.x users.