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When you think of Macs and virtualization, what pops to mind?

  • What the hell is virtualization? (A: The ability to run another operating system in a virtual machine (VM) while still running Mac OS X)
  • Oh, right, that’s what Parallels does. (Yes, but read on…)
  • Wasn’t there an old Virtual PC product from Microsoft that they never ported over to Intel Macs? (You are truly old-skool. Fasten your seat belt – this is a rocket ship compared to older emulation products.)

Well regardless of what you think, there’s a new kid on the Mac virtualization block: VMware Fusion. And “new kid” isn’t exactly the right term. VMware pioneered x86 virtualization and has been doing virtualization for nine years now.  With Apple’s switch to Intel processors, all that experience can now be brought to your Mac.

Hold on to your mighty mouse, because when the granddaddy of virtualization turns its attention to your favorite MacBook Pro, you can do some crazy things.

These are some of our favorites:

  • SWITCH! Want to leverage the digital lifestyle of your Mac but have one or two Windows applications that you can’t live without?  You don’t have to be locked in anymore.  Outlook, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Project, AutoCAD, Solidworks…you name it.  They all can run in a Windows virtual machine on VMware Fusion.  Bring your USB peripherals with you as you switch too; they still work.

  • Walk and chew gum at the same time. With virtualization you are running, in effect, two computers at the same time when you run Windows on your Mac.  That can take some horsepower.  VMware Fusion’s mature technology means much less CPU overhead.  As Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal noticed, “VMware Fusion has a much smaller impact on the Mac’s overall performance [than Parallels.]”  With VMware Fusion, Outlook in your Windows virtual machine doesn’t slow down your Safari session running on Mac OS X.

  • Use the full strength of your Mac hardware. VMware Fusion’s virtual SMP lets you assign up to two CPUs to a single VM.  Up to 8 GB of RAM too in a VM.  Want to test run the latest Oracle database in a 64-bit Linux VM, with 4 GB RAM and 2 cores?  Want to test SQL Server 2007 on Windows Server 2003 64-bit edition? You can do it.  Though you should probably be doing something else on your Saturday night.

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle…your RAM. VMware pioneered memory page file sharing.  So running a VM in VMware Fusion takes up much less of your Mac’s memory than other virtualization products.  And it gets better the more VMs you’re running at once.  Five Windows XP virtual machines at a time doesn’t mean 5x the memory of a single XP virtual machine.  By sharing the sections of memory that are common between the VMs—like with common OSs— you can “over commit” memory.

  • Run those Windows apps as if they were Mac apps. VMware Fusion’s Unity feature your Mac treats Windows applications like its own.  Windows applications show up in the Dock on launch and you can even minimize Windows apps down to the Dock too.  They fly around in Exposé, sport drop shadows around their edges, you name it.  As far your Mac is concerned, they’re native apps.

  • Don’t lose your head (or your way) with USB 2.0 support. Got a GPS unit that doesn’t support Mac?  With VMware Fusion, just load the software in Windows and plug the USB cable into your Mac.  Blackberry, USB VOIP softphones, webcams, scanners, printers, all of the above.  You can still use them with a Windows VM.  Just because you want to switch, doesn’t mean you should have to say goodbye to near and dear peripherals.

  • Bring that Mac into the enterprise. Usually there are a handful of applications that are absolute must-haves in the enterprise that are tying you to that PC.  VMware Fusion lets you run those in a Mac.  And VMware Fusion USB support means that the Crackberry monkey will still be on your back. VMware Fusion’s stability, and the amazing support network provided by VMware’s forums, make it a business-class solution. 

  • Run over sixty x86 compliant operating systems on your Mac.  Linux, Solaris, Windows from 3.1 through Vista Ultimate x64.  32-bit or 64-bit.  VMware Fusion can run it.  In fact, VMware Fusion can run over 60 operating systems on your Mac.  Sure, Mac OS X is great, but why not learn some Linux, FreeBSD, or even turn back the clock to Windows 3.1. You can even drag and drop files between Linux and your Mac or Windows and your Mac.

  • Go shopping for some appliances to match your pretty Mac.  There are over 550 virtual appliances available in the Virtual Appliance Marketplace, including pre-staged anti-spam and security appliances, demo software, you name it.  Pull one down, fire it up on VMware Fusion, and you’re up and running.  No install discs, .ISOs, or anything.  You can use those CDs for coasters, if you want.

  • Frag some baddies.  Experimental 3D graphics support allows you to play select DirectX 8.1 games in a Windows XP SP2 virtual machine.  If you’re jonesing for some Duke Nukem or Tony Hawk, fire up VMware Fusion.  Doesn’t help you with the latest and greatest in 3D video games, but c’mon, you should be working anyway.

So with those top ten things in your back pocket, come learn more about VMware Fusion or…

Download the 30-day Free Trial of VMware Fusion!

And, of course, here’s the famous video demo of the Unity feature of VMware Fusion:

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