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VMware Fusion 4

Hot on the heels of last week’s release of Parallels 7 comes VMware Fusion 4.0, a major upgrade to the popular virtualization program that lets Mac users run Windows, Linux, and other operating systems side-by-side with Mac OS X. Fusion 4 includes more than 90 new features; as in Parallels 7, some of the biggest changes include full support for Lion capabilities such as Mission Control, full-screen mode (even for individual Windows applications), and gestures; you can also run Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and Lion Server as guest operating systems, and you can choose which Windows apps you want to appear in Launchpad, the Applications folder, and Spotlight. When running in single-window mode, Fusion 4 makes better use of screen real estate, which is helpful for Macs (such as the MacBook Air) with small displays. A variety of other changes make both Fusion itself and Windows apps running in a virtual machine more Mac-like and better integrated into Mac OS X. Fusion 4 now works better with Time Machine, supports Remote Disc, and offers virtual Bluetooth support. Fusion is now a self-contained, 64-bit Cocoa application, so you can install or uninstall it by drag-and-drop and run it from any location; in addition, it uses no system resources at all when not running. The program features significantly improved performance, too, especially in 2D and 3D graphics. According to VMware’s benchmark testing, overall performance is neck-and-neck with Parallels 7 — Fusion’s advantage averages about 2 to 4 percent, depending on the hardware and the test (although it does fall slightly behind Parallels in certain tests). Although not currently sold through the Mac App Store, Fusion 4 now uses a similar license model; except in business and educational settings, a single license is now valid for all the Macs a user owns or controls. Promotional pricing — the same price for upgrades and new purchases — is $49.99 through the end of the year. ($49.99 new or upgrade, 399 MB)

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