VMware released the second beta of its Fusion 2.0 virtualization system for Mac OS X late Wednesday. The new beta adds the ability to take multiple snapshots of the virtual machines, allows the user to launch any Mac file with Windows applications, improves 3D acceleration for games, and dramatically improves 1080p HD playback on consumer Macs, and more.
TMO spoke with Pat Lee, the Fusion Product Manager, late Wednesday who described in some detail the new features of this release.
- Unity 2.0—Tighter Windows-Mac Integration: Building on Unity 1.0, you can now launch any Mac file with any of your Windows applications. Mirror your Mac and Windows special folders—like My Documents, Desktop, etc. Custom keyboard mapping between Mac keyboard and virtual machines.
- Safety Features for your VM: Take and manage multiple snapshots of your virtual machines. Use AutoProtect, or automated, timed snapshots of your running virtual machine to protect your VM from unexpected bumps in the road.
- Video and Usability: Great 3D support gets better and more stable. CPU usage is thinner and lighter. 1080p High Definition video runs near natively in VMs, while VMs now integrate with Mac OS X Leopardis "QuickLook." Status bars and the Fusion icon glow to signify activity, and Fusion 2.0 increases it market leadership and uses even less of your Macs valuable resources.
- Power Tools—In addition to multiple snapshots, VMware Fusion now allows up to four virtual CPUs on a VM, Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine, and support for VMrun command line scripting, showing more flashes of its datacenter lineage.
Mac OS X Server, Ubtuntu, and Windows Server VMs
VMWareis Fusion 2 betas are available to both registered users and the public. Mr. Lee noted that no date has been set for the final 2.0 release, but when released, it will be a free upgrade to all 1.x customers. "We want to treat our customers well," he told TMO.
Mr. Lee also answered some technical questions for TMO about the Fusion 2 beta and Fusion 2 in general.
- Fusion 2 adds support for Mac OS X Leopard Server, Ubuntu 8.04, and 32- and 64-bit Windows Server 2003-2008 and 32- and 64-bit supported Linux distributions. VMware coordinated with Apple to resolve some technical issues that previously prevented Mac OS X Server VMs from running under Leopard client.
- Fusion 2 can auto-detect a Boot Camp installation of Windows, import it as a VM, and repartition the hard disk on the fly to recover the space.
- Snapshots in beta 2 are limited only by available disk space. The "AutoProtect function is separate from Time Machine and allows the user more flexibility in managing snapshot rollbacks.
- On Multi-core Macs, CPUs are utilized as needed when the host OS plus multiple VMs are running.
- Fusion 2 requires even less CPU time when VMis are idle requiring just 3 percent of the CPU time. Thatis even less than the typical 8 percent used by iTunes to play a song.
- The HD video improvements in beta 2 will be especially welcome for users of, say, Netflix movies on demand under Windows if and when Netflix moves to HD movies in that service.
- The Betas of Fusion 2 utilize the same VM files created in Fusion 1.1. No changes or OS re-installations are required, and the beta seamlessly installs over the 1.1 version.
VMware has published a video on YouTube [below] that highlight the new features of Beta 2. One of the themes for Fusion 2, according to Mr. Lee, is to extend the seamless nature of the product for Mac users.
Mr. Lee pointed TMO to the canonical page for Fusion 2 betas. This page describes all the features of beta 1 and beta 2, provides an e-mail sign up for beta news, has several videos explaining the features of Fusion 2.0 and has a link to the download page.
Windows 3D Games in Fusion VM
Current 1.x customers can download the beta 2, install and will not need to enter the beta license key. As mentioned above, Fusion 2.0, when released, will be a free upgrade for all 1.x customers.
VMWare Fusion requires an Intel Mac, with Core 2 Duo or Xeon processor(s), 275 MB free disk space, 1 GB disk space for each VM and OS X Tiger 10.4.9 or later. 512 MB of RAM is required and 1 GB is recommended, not including the RAM allocated to each VM. A free trial is available.
VMware Fusion 1.x is priced at US$79.99. Customers can save $30 via a competitive upgrade.