VMWare Fusion 5

KEY INFO
Developer: VMWare
Price: £40

REQUIREMENTS
OS X 10.6.7 or later Requires Intel Core 2 Duo or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended), 750MB hard disk space, 5GB per virtual machine

You can run Windows applications as if they were Mac ones.

Running Windows on your Mac may sound like sacrilege, but for many its just one more convenient aspect of being a Mac owner. The latest virtualisation tool from VMWare is Fusion 5, it comes less than a year since version 4, and as such, has only received a light brush of new headline features. Support for Retina displays and USB 3.0 in Windows 8 as well as optimisation for the latest Macs have been included. Battery life improvements for those using a laptop Mac and some other minor enhancements have also been made. The Pro version of Fusion has been updated to keep the IT admins happy as well. If you already have Fusion 4 and are looking to upgrade, speed enhancements and reliability improvements aside, there are no new standout features that would make upgrading an obvious choice.

Installing a copy of Windows is simple enough, although it’s not as elegant or user friendly as with Parallels (see opposite page). Windows 7 took about 30 minutes to get from DVD, through the installation process and to the desktop.

As with every piece of software, the user interface is personal. We liked the slickness of Fusion, it feels Mac-like and looks good. Some of the icons are a touch generic however, and first-time users might find it hard to remember what each one is for at first.

See what Windows 8 is like without leaving the safety and comfort of your Mac. 

During our tests we used Windows 7 in the main, though we did use both Windows Vista and a pre-release version of Windows 8 as well. Here’s where Fusion really impresses – at times you can forget that you’re using a Mac. Software runs as quickly as you’d expect it to on a PC. It can be quite an unnerving experience as you open Paint on your desktop and have it run like a native app. Resuming a paused virtual machine is speedier than previous versions too.

Even given that impressive speed, that’s not to say running these virtualisation products didn’t bring our Mac to a juddering halt from time to time. Occasionally our Mac Pro stalled and all that we could do was wait for the quad-core 2.8GHz processors and 8GB of RAM to catch up. However, for the majority of the time Windows did feel like a native OS and quickly switching between Mac and Windows was a breeze.

Fusion 5 is great, we liked it and can highly recommend it. It’s cheaper than Parallels and ran just as fluently during our testing. Fusion 5 has more favourable licensing terms and overall tips the scales as a better first-time purchase. There’s nothing here to sway an existing Parallels user away, but we’d say that Fusion has the edge.

Verdict

Fusion 5 is a great piece of software but there’s not much here for those upgrading from version 4.

Mac Choice Award