Mac Software Review: VMware Fusion 2

VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
Mac software review






Back in 1996, I really wanted Soft Windows to run Windows 95 on my PowerPC 8100 AV. But the price was around $145. I was still a graduate student those days. And I didn’t buy it. Rather, I tried to sort of borrow it from somebody through Apple Talk. Then there was Virtual PC, which I eventually bought in 1998 or 1999 along with Blueberry iMac 333 MHz. Those applications let Mac users run Windows. Virtual PC 4 was somewhat stable, and I played several PC games including Pharaoh and 1602 A.D. with it.

VMware Fusion is similar to Virtual PC in some respects. They are both Windows emulation applications through which you can install any supported Windows OS version of your choice. Virtual PC has not been upgraded for Universal Binary while VMware only runs on Mac computers with Intel processors.

VMware has recently upgraded its Windows visualization software to 2.0 with a free upgrade for users of VMware fusion 1.x. The version available before this upgrade is 1.1.3.

So what’s new with VMware Fusion? The company says VMware Fusion 2.0 has





  • improved compatibility with DirectX 9.0c
  • complimentary 12-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus





  • and more improvements.

    People love this software title. We loved it till some 12 hours ago. Then why are we giving only two stars to VMware Fusion? No, it’s not a right-wing conspiracy against Mrs. Clinton’s husband or VMware Fusion. Well, let’s see how stable VMware Fusion 2.0 is. 





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 01
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 02
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 03






    Installing Windows XP SP3

    Okay. When you first launch VMware Fusion 2.0, you will see Virtual Machine Library like the one shown in Screenshot 01. Let’s click on New. I have already inserted a Windows XP SP3 disk, and that’s the version I want to install. So I’m going to select Install this operating system. (See Screenshot 02.) And I click on Continue. In the next screen, I don’t have to enter my system password, which consists of Greek letters, special characters, numbers and English alphabetic letters. But if I enter my password, anyway… I get a message that says This password includes non-English characters. (See Screenshot 03.) So I just enter the product key, and click on the Continue button. (See Screenshot 04.)





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 04
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 05
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 06






    In the next screen, I choose None for Sharing. Then the next screen says Finish. Am I finished configuring my Windows system? How about the disk size? The application window says the disk size is set to 40 GB. (See Screenshot 06.) So I’m going to click on Customize Settings. On this Settings window, I need to click on Hard Disks to customize the disk space. (See Screenshot 07.) Okay. For the moment, I’m going to set the disk size to 2 GB. (See Screenshot 08.) I know that’s a mistake. I will only have several MB left after installing OS. But let’s move on with 2-GB disk space. Now that I’m finished setting up my Windows system, I just need to click on the arrow button. (See Screenshot 09.) And OS installation will commence.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 07
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 08
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 09






    If you allocate only 5 or 10 GB to the disk space, you won’t be even asked how you want to format it, FAT or NTFS. And you can watch TV for the next 30 minutes or so. Things go smooth. And VMware Tools automatically tries to install VMware Tools. (See Screenshot 12.) That’s when… VMware Fusion crashed. (See Screenshot 13.) Maybe, it’s not a big deal. Anyway, let’s move on. If I relaunch VMware Fusion, I will start at the point where the application crashed. Then VMware Fusion asks me if I want to install McAfee VirusScan. (See Screenshot 14.) Hmm… I have to say no for now. If necessary, I can choose Install McAfee VirusScan Plus under Virtual Machine to install the anti-virus program. (See Screenshot 15.) Anyway, OS installation is complete.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 10
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 11
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 12





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 13
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 14
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 15






    One advantage of using VMware Fusion over Boot Camp to run Windows OS is that you can duplicate the system easily. After installing several good-to-have applications, I just want to duplicate the Windows image. (See Screenshot 16.) In this way, I can replace the existing Windows system quickly when something serious happens to it.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 16
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 17
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 18






    I know that I made a huge mistake earlier in deciding on the disk space. So let’s give more space to the system. Well, I only use VMware Fusion to check if Windows files are infected with computer viruses. So I could live with 2 GB of space. But I want to install a game this time. Anyway, I need to shut down the system by choosing Shut Down Guest under Virtual Machine. (See Screenshot 17.) Now, I can freely change the disk size. (See Screenshot 18.)






    OS reinstallation

    Actually, I was forced to start all over again with a disk size of 5 GB this time. I’ll explain why in a minute. Soon after I finished installing Windows XP SP3 for the second time, a message appeared that said Do you want Windows to automatically correct your screen resolution and color depth settings?. (See Screenshot 19.) After I pressed Yes… VMware Fusion crashed again.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 19
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 20
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 21






    Let’s see. Now, I have 2.96 GB of free space. (See Screenshot 20.) I’m going to shut down the system once again. (See Screenshot 21.) Then I’m going to increase the disk space to 6 GB. (See Screenshot 22.) Now, let’s see how much free disk space I have. Strange… I still have 2.96 GB of free space. (See Screenshot 23.) Earlier, I trashed the Windows image because no matter how I increased the disk size, I only got several giga bytes of free space, which made it impossible for me to install a game. Now, I’m stuck with 2.96 GB of free space.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 22
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 23
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 24






    All right. Next, I want to mount an ISO disk image. So I select Choose Disk Image under Virtual Machine. (See Screenshot 24.) Now, I just need to designate a disk image and press Open. (See Screenshot 25.) The problem is… VMware Fusion doesn’t mount it. If I double-click on Drive D or F, neither of them contains data. (See Screenshot 26.) In fact, I tried to mount the same disk image a few times before re-creating the Windows system. And it was mounted with no problem. Now, whether I restart the system, reinstall VMware Tools, restart the computer, VMware Fusion doesn’t mount this disk image or another one.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 25
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 26
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 27






    What are other choices that I have if I want to mount a disk image? Using a third-party application like Daemon Tools Pro? Well… That’s how I wasted next 60 minutes of my valuable time. As shown in Screenshot 27, it won’t run. I reinstalled it 4 or 5 times. But it doesn’t work. The exactly same program runs on the Windows partition of the same terminal, though. Now, what? I have one more option, actually. I have PowerISO, which is primarily used to mount disk images with .daa. Fortunately, PowerISO runs fine. In fact, I was able to mount the same disk image that VMware Fusion repeatedly failed to mount.

    One last thing that I want to do with VMware Fusion is to install a game. I want to install Freedom Force vs. 3rd Reich. Well, emulation or visualization applications are not good at utilizing DirectX. So not many games are expected to run. But let’s see if I can run this game with VMware Fusion 2.0.





    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 28
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 29
    VMware Fusion 2 Windows Visualization
    Screenshot 30






    The game installer runs. (See Screenshot 28.) That’s good news. In fact, I was able to finish installing the game. (See Screenshot 29.) If I double-click on the game icon… Unexpectedly, it runs. (See Screenshot 30.) Nice…






    Conclusions

    I have encountered several serious problems with VMware Fusion 2.0. A consistent problem is that the application doesn’t reflect a disk size change. I tried to increase the disk space from 2 GB to 4 GB once and then 5 GB to 6 GB after the second installation in vain. Another serious problem is that VMware Fusion 2.0 does not mount disk image. But that’s not a consistent problem. I was able to mount an ISO image for the first Windows installation. But I was never able to mount the same disk image for the second Windows installation. Furthermore, let’s not forget that VMware Fusion 2.0 crashed at least twice already.

    Good news is that VMware Fusion goes well with DirectX. I was successfully able to install and run a 2005 game.

    By the way, an interesting feature of VMware Fusion is that it allows users to access the system on the Windows partition. That is, you can run the system installed on your Windows partition without virtually switching to Windows. They call it Boot Camp partition. You can trash the Windows partitions that you have installed. But you cannot trash Boot Camp partition. When you run it, you really want to be very careful. Once I used it under VMware Fusion 1.1.3. The application encountered a serious problem. In the end, I ended up switching to the Windows partition to reinstall some programs including Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.





  • Developer: VMware, Inc. (http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/)
  • Developer’s location: 2401 Hillview Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA
  • Latest version: VMware Fusion 2.0
  • System requirements: Intel processors running Mac OS X 10.4.11 or 10.5.x
  • Prices: US$79.99, free upgrade from VMware Fusion 1.x
  • MacHouse recommendation: Mac users love VMware Fusion. But there is no Buy-It! recommendation to VMware Fusion 2.0. We regret to say that this is a horrible upgrade. One may be better off staying with Fusion 1.1.3 and waiting till the software developer overhauls the application. For us, the purpose of this visualization software hasn’t changed. It’s only useful to virus-check Windows files.






    VMware Fusion is a product of VMware, Inc.





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