Posted by Srinivas Krishnamurti
Director of Product Management and Market Development
Almost a year after we announced our intention to build a desktop product that allowed Mac users to run Windows, Linux, Solaris and many other PC operating systems without rebooting, I’m happy to announce that VMware Fusion™ is generally available as of August 6, 2007.
There will be a ton of reviews and blogs about features, performance, etc, so I will try to focus on things that the press and blogging community won’t necessarily cover.
As I reflect back to the days when we first started talking in the kitchen of our previous headquarters about building this product, I’m glad we made and stuck to perhaps the biggest decision we had to make on this product yet. That is to never compromise on the user experience.
A wise man once told me, ‘Mac users expect great user interfaces; Windows users put up with rubbish interfaces and Linux users want rubbish interfaces.’ Not sure I completely agree with the entire statement but I definitely agree with him about Mac users expecting a clean and intuitive interface. In order to provide an interface that Mac users expect, we decided to design and build a brand-new Mac native interface from the ground up. We tried our best to build an interface that looks like a Mac app and behaves like a Mac app and we are delighted with the way the user interface turned out.
As we got closer to the GA date, we spent a fair bit of time discussing packaging for this product. This was an interesting exercise for us primarily because we had never shipped consumer products nor sold our products through retail and etail outlets before. (Before the VMware historians correct me, we actually did sell VMware Workstation through retail outlets way back when but we no longer do that. I would venture to guess that 90% of the current employees weren’t around when Workstation was sold at Fry’s.) Packaging is a big deal in retail outlets so in the same tradition of designing an intuitive and clean user interface, we decided early on that we need to develop packaging that would be clean, interesting and something that we would be proud of. Needless to say, this video was sent around a million times, so much so that it wasn’t funny anymore.
The agency we hired proposed 10 different variations and amazingly enough, everyone on our project team gravitated towards one. That design was cleaned up and now is the final design for VMware Fusion.
While not quite Apple-esque, we felt that this was a clean look and conveyed the essence of our product. We all felt that black background was more appealing than other colors we considered. Perhaps the coolest and most unique part of this design is the front flaps that open in the middle on the front. After spending an entire Sunday afternoon at Best Buy, I realized most software boxes either have no flaps at all or have a flap that opens like a book. Boooring! We didn’t want to be just another box. We wanted to be proud of the box, just like we wanted to be proud of the software we have built. VMware Fusion has two flaps that open down the middle – think of the monitor opening up in the middle. Each of the flaps has three screenshots showcasing the product while the middle of the box (once you open the flaps) has detailed description of the product.
Just to make sure we got some objective feedback, Pat and I drove to the nearest Apple store for beta testing of the box design. We performed the so-called 3-, 6- and 12-foot test and asked a few employees and customers for their feedback. Positive! We were on the right track.
I hope you will enjoy what we came up with. Each box contains a little surprise gift and we sincerely hope you will put that gift to good use. A quick note: manufacturing these wicked cool boxes is taking a bit longer than anticipated so you will probably have to wait a few days if you have ordered the boxed product. However, if you are not into packaging, please feel free to order an electronic download version from www.vmware.com/mac.
To end, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the many VMware folks who contributed to this initiative. You all spent many a sleepless night and weekends at work but when you look at what we built together, I hope you will agree with me that it was well worth it! I also want to thank all the beta customers who took the time to provide invaluable feedback – your feedback helped us build a robust product.