The Blog

Jun 10, 2007

Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion? 

by Maxim Porges @ 1:53 PM | Link | Feedback (5)

I've been an avid Parallels Desktop user since the application went gold last year. Truthfully, if it weren't for Parallels, my experience using a Mac in a 99.9% PC work environment would be a lot more difficult. There are only a handful of apps that I need Windows for (TOAD, Rational Software, and our legacy source control system called Harvest), but they are all the more pleasurable to use because I have such seamless integration between Windows and OS X with Parallels.

That being said, the experience with Parallels Desktop is a litte quirky. For example, when un-pausing a virtualized Windows instance (kind of like waking it from sleep), Parallels shows me the Windows instance ready to go, but it's still streaming the OS from disk so I have to wait and poke it every few seconds for about half a minute until it starts responding. I've also had a few issues with Coherence, which in itself appears to be a bit of a hack (if you move the windows around fast enough you can see the Windows desktop being redrawn behind the previous location of the window being moved), and I had a virtual instance go FUBAR on me for no apparent reason (booted in to BSOD constantly and needed to be blown away). Finally, when using Parallels in full screen mode, if you try dragging and dropping a file from the Windows desktop using Exposé, you can't... you have to go to windowed mode, and even then, you have to drag the file outside of the area where the Parallels window used to be in order for your drag operation to work properly.

Even with all this, I love Parallels Desktop, have highly recommended it to peers, and will continue to recommend it until I find something better. I'd also like to mention that their support is fantastic, with a community blog and support forums that answered all the questions I have had when using the product. Customer service is an important item for any company, but especially for online software vendors IMO.

Of course, this is where VMWare's Fusion comes in. I have had zero past experience wth VMWare's products, but their reputation is incredibly strong. So far, Fusion looks like it has a little more polish than Parallels: their Unity feature (basically a rip-off of Coherence) has drop-shadowed windows and doesn't seem to have the screen redraw issues based upon a video of it that I have seen in action. Besides that, it looks like the feature sets of the two products are almost identical. Polish is a hard intangible for a software company to add to their products, but in my opinion, it makes all the difference - especially when there isn't a compelling feature difference (and I'll admit that there may be major feature disparity between Fusion and Parallels Desktop, but I haven't done much research yet).

Parallels recently released their Parallels Desktop 3.0 release, and while I have usually upgraded immediately in the past, in this case I am waiting on VMWare; after all, Fusion should be out before the end of the summer, and Parallels 2.0 serves my needs beautifully. I may not upgrade or change at all, but I am keeping an eye on the public beta that VMWare is offering.

What about you, fellow Mac user? Happy with Parallels Desktop? Looking to switch to VMWare Fusion? Don't care?