Parallels vs. VMWare Fusion

As a Mac user who is also a full time Windows Developer, being able to run Windows on my Mac is pretty important. While Intel Mac’s do have Boot Camp which allows you to boot into Windows or OSX, I much prefer using a Virtual Machine (VM) instead.

Luckily there are multiple options for running a VM on the Mac. When I first got my Mac and started to look into getting a VM I ended up getting VMWare Fusion 1.0.  I was generally quite happy with it.  But it only supported displaying on one monitor.  They later made the 2.0 release free for owners of the first version and it supported multiple monitors along with being faster and much more integrated into the Operating System.  For the most part I was pretty happy with VMWare Fusion 2.0 which allowed me to use Visual Studio and other programs for development tasks. Though sometimes screen redraws were a bit off.

On the Mac platform there are lots of software bundles such as MacHeist which offer multiple programs at a low price and in one of these Bundles I got I got a license to Parallels 4.0.  At that time I had read an article comparing VMWare Fusion 2 and Parallels Desktop 4 and shows that Parallels beat out VMWare Fusion speed wise.  When I started using Parallels I found that to be my experience that it was much faster, especially in displaying graphics.  VMWare 2.0 had some better interface choices and was easier to setup a VM, but Parallels 4 was the superior program overall.  I especially liked that the filesystem of the VM was treated like another drive so accessing folders in the VM from OSX was very easy.

When VMWare Fusion 3 came out with support for Windows 7, I switched back to it.  My experience with it was pretty solid and there were many improvements made – though the redraw of some windows – especially smaller popup ones in Visual Studio would lag or not redraw properly.  Before my beta of this ran out Parallels released version 5 that also had Windows 7 support.  For one thing they really improved setting up a VM and the process is much faster now.  Graphic wise though it is stunning in that it is easy to forget I am running in an VM in the first place.  The integration with OSX is matchless and you really have the best of both worlds in running Windows and OSX side by side as if it was all natively part of the OS. So I ended up buying the upgrade for Parallels.

Parallels pricing and upgrade pricing is certainly higher than VMWare Fusion and I do wish there upgrade pricing  was more competitive with VMWare Fusions pricing.  Though I guess you get what you pay for and it was certainly worthwhile to upgrade.

MacTech has run some tests comparing the two VM’s and it certainly bears out the obvious difference in speed of displaying graphics.  Really quite a remarkable achievement that they have created a product superior to industry leader VMWare.

If you are one of those poor souls such as myself who has to use Windows on their Mac than you might be interested in MacUpdates Promo that offers 10 programs including Parallels Desktop 5 for $49. 00. Though for some the free VM VirtualBox put out by Sun might just meet your needs.