This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2008-09-16 at 2:40 p.m.
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VMware Fusion 2.0 Released

by Joe Kissell

Not so long ago, it seemed like every time I looked at my computer screen, either Parallels or VMware had released yet another version of their respective virtualization programs for running Windows on an Intel-based Mac. Over the last several months, though, those rapid-fire releases have slowed way down. Parallels has focused its recent attention mainly on Parallels Server [1] (see "Parallels Server Brings Virtualization to Leopard Server [2]," 2008-01-10) and minor updates to Parallels Desktop, while VMware has spent the last four months beta testing VMware Fusion 2.0 [3] (see "VMware Fusion 2 Beta 2 Adds Significant Features" by Adam Engst, 2008-07-31). Version 2.0 is now shipping, and it's a doozy.

If you've followed our periodic updates on Fusion 2.0's public beta testing, most of the new features will come as no surprise. But to review, VMware Fusion has changed tremendously; the most significant differences from version 1.1 (from among its "over 100 new features and enhancements") include the following:

This list is just the tip of the iceberg; for the full list of new features, see the extensive Fusion 2.0 release notes [4].

You may have noticed that more than a few of the new features strongly resemble features already available in Parallels Desktop. That was, of course, intentional. Although the two programs have always been close competitors, my overall advice in the past had been that if you wanted the best user experience and tight integration with Mac OS X, Parallels had the edge; whereas if you wanted the best performance in CPU-intensive tasks or the lowest impact on your Mac's resources, Fusion was, for the most part, the better choice. Assuming roughly comparable performance between the old version and the new, that equation has now changed; in terms of integration, Fusion is now just as good as - and in some cases better than - Parallels Desktop. Indeed, Fusion 2.0 now raises the bar with features like driverless printing and support for Leopard Server in a sub-$100 product, making it a compelling choice for the time being.

VMware Fusion 2.0 [5] is a 248 MB download. It's a free upgrade for owners of version 1.x; the retail price for new customers remains unchanged at $79.99. A free trial [6] is also available.