Virtualization specialist VMware on Wednesday took the wraps off the latest public beta of Fusion for Mac. The new release focuses on several key areas to improve the user experience, including video, data protection and Unity.
One of the biggest improvements with Fusion beta 2 is with Unity 2.0. Unity allows you to run Windows without seeing the Windows Desktop — it’s a seamless way to access to the Windows applications and still be in the Mac environment.
In addition to allowing application sharing between the Mac and your virtual machines, Unity 2.0 also features mirrored folders. The folders on your Mac (Desktop, Documents, Music, and Pictures) will match the corresponding folders on Windows (Desktop, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures).
Unity also features keyboard and mouse mapping and the ability to cut and paste up to 4MB, including styled text.
To help protect user’s virtual machines, VMware now features automatic snapshots. This means the application will take and store a snapshot of the current virtual machine, allowing to easily restore to a working copy should something go wrong. Snapshots can be taken every half hour, every hour or every day and you can choose how many snapshots to keep.
“AutoProtect is like Time Machine for your virtual machine,” Pat Lee, Group Manager of Consumer Products at VMware, told Macworld. “If someone does go wrong you can roll back easily and its all done without any manually intervention.”
Fusion beta 2 now has support for 1080p full high definition video in Windows XP or Windows Vista. Vmware’s Pat Lee said in testing the video features, they loaded a 1080p video on a MacBook and they were able to play it back.
3D support has been improved, as well as the ability to go in and out of Full Screen mode while playing games.
In Mac OS X 10.5 it is now possible to mount the virtual disk of a powered off Windows virtual machine using VMDKMounter. This allows access to files without actually starting the virtual machine.
Users of Mac OS X 10.5 will appreciate the QuickLook feature built into Fusion, allowing users to view the contents of files without opening them.
Lee said that VMware spent a lot of time optimizing the virtual machine so if it’s running in the background, it won’t affect the performance of your Mac applications running in the foreground.
One thing that users have asked for, but isn’t coming to Fusion is FireWire support. Fusion does support USB devices plugged into your Mac, but Lee said that most of the FireWire devices are either storage or cameras. Storage can be shared between the virtual machine and the Mac and cameras typically already have software for the Mac.
Other changes in Fusion 2 beta 2 include the ability to run up to four virtual CPUs on a VM, the ability to run Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine, and support for VMrun command line scripting.
When released VMware Fusion 2 will be a free upgrade for all current Fusion 1.0 customers. “It’s a big thank you for the early adopters,” said Lee.