Software

VMWare Fusion set for Monday release

VMWare will announce Monday the release of Fusion, its virtualization software for Mac OS X. The software will cost $79.99 and a 30-day evaluation version will be available for download.

Fusion enables Intel-based Macs to run Windows software side-by-side with Mac OS X. It competes with Parallels Desktop for Mac and Codeweavers’ CrossOver for Mac as a way for Mac users to run Windows programs without having to reboot their systems.

Fusion features 64-bit processing support; it can run Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit edition and other operating systems designed for 64-bit microprocessors. It not only enables Mac users to run Windows, but it also supports Solaris, Linux and more than 60 different x86-optimized operating systems, according to Pat Lee, VMWare’s senior product manager for Mac products.

VMWare first announced plans to bring its virtualization technology to the Macintosh a year ago, and earlier this year introduced Fusion as a free public beta. Since then, the company reports that its beta software has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.

“We’ve spent a long time getting this product to market and we’re really confident in it,” Lee told Macworld. “We have ten years of experience in virtualization, and we’ve built a Mac-native experience.”

Lee said that VMWare isn’t troubled by the presence of Parallels and other competitors in the Mac marketplace. VMWare has focused Fusion on providing as seamless a Mac experience as possible — the company vaunts Fusion’s “Unity” feature, which lets you minimize Windows applications to the Dock, switch between Mac and Windows apps using Tiger’s Exposé feature, and use Mac keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste between Mac OS X and other guest operating systems.

And for users who are already working with Parallels, VMWare provides a Converter utility to enable users to convert their Parallels virtual machine to a VMWare version instead. Fusion also works with Boot Camp (Lee said that users who are using Parallels with a Boot Camp partition are encouraged to uninstall Parallels prior to installing Fusion).

Fusion incorporates “experimental” support for Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard,” and also features “experimental” 3D graphics support so users can try their hands at Windows games (similarly to Parallels, it’s limited at this time to DirectX 8.1 support — an older version of Microsoft’s 3D API).

Lee indicates that VMWare will continue to offer users a 50 percent price break on Fusion if they pre-order it now through Sunday, Aug. 5 at 12:00 PM (Pacific Time).

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