Mac OS X only: VMware's brand new beta 1 of Fusion 2.0, virtualisation software for Mac OS X, promises to make you feel like you're running Windows or Linux natively from your Mac desktop. From multiple monitor support, 3-D graphics support for games, smoother USB device detection, folder sharing, and printing, Fusion 2.0 is a tempting piece of software already, even in only as a first beta. Problem is, if you already use Fusion, the beta will replace your existing installation. To spare you possible bugginess on your desktop, have a look at some screenshots of Fusion 2.0 in action on my Mac.
What about Parallels Desktop? When the spinning beachball of death became too frequent a visitor to my MacBook whenever Parallels was running, I switched to Fusion and never looked back. Parallels Desktop is a great software application that arrived faster to market, but VMware is an established leader in virtualisation. When we faced off Parallels and Fusion, Lifehacker readers split between them. For me, Fusion has been more stable than Parallels, but your mileage may vary.
Let's take a look at the Fusion 2.0 beta 1.
Multiple Monitor Support and 3-D Graphics
The biggest new feature in Fusion 2.0 is solid support for multiple—and we mean multiple—monitors when you're in full-screen Windows, single-window mode, or Unity. Since I've got a MacBook plugged into an external display, this was the big sell for me. Turns out the multi-display support is smooth and works as you'd expect, with Windows' regular abilities to identify, arrange, and position the different monitors.
See a rockin' video demo of the multi-monitor features and 3-D graphics enhancements in this VMware-produced video. (Dude's surrounded by no less than EIGHT displays here—hit the Play button to see it in action.)
Revamped Interface and Settings
Fusion 2.0 sports an easier-to-use, and much more fleshed-out control interface.
Your Virtual Machine Library: If you run multiple virtual machines, an informative console that tells you the state of each is kind of important. Right now I'm only running my Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine, and here's what that looks like in Fusion 1.0:
Fusion 2.0, however, upgraded the VM library console to include a screenshot of the machine state, plus a few helpful controls.
You can set a VM to open automatically when Fusion starts, too.
Upgraded Settings Pane: Fusion 2.0's virtual machine settings pane looks a lot more like System Preferences, too. Check it out here—notice you can customise it and add and delete items from it.
If you've never used Fusion before, you can download the 2.0 beta and grab a trial licence to try it out for free. You will, however, need a legit Windows installation disk to set up your virtual machine.
If you already use Fusion, the beta will overwrite your existing app, so be ready to jump in feet-first if you do decide to install. (Your current Fusion licence will work with the beta.) Once you fire up Windows for the first time, you'll need to install a bunch of non Microsoft-approved drivers inside Windows. Also, you'll have to install VMware tools and restart the VM to enable all the features (like multi-displays).
In a short day of testing, I haven't run into any problems with the beta. Spreading Windows across two monitors (and having DisplayFusion inside Windows work without a hitch) is a beautiful thing, and I loved switching between Unity, full-screen, and single window mode. (Even single window mode is spread across your monitors, which at first confused me, until I sized it down to one display.)
Printing to my USB Mac printer worked like a charm, as did importing photos into Picasa from my card reader. Not being much of a PC gamer, I didn't have a chance to really give the new graphics support a full workout.
Have you tried out the new Fusion beta? Got any questions about it? Post—you know where—in the comments.