VirtualBox, a free software package that allows you to run a whole range of virtual machines on your Mac, has been updated to provide support for multi-touch platforms, support for the latest CPUs and other notable additions. The upgrade comes on the same day that Microsoft launched Windows 8.1, and ahead of the expected launch of Mavericks around the end of October … Read more
Prologue: I’ve been a Parallels Desktop user since the Windows XP days (and recently reviewed the latest version, Parallels Desktop 9). However, I’ve always been watchful of VMware and their offerings. This review of Fusion 6 is from my perspective as a Parallels user and potential switcher.
Mac users who need to pull up Windows, Linux, or guest OS X virtual machines usually don’t care too much for the whistles and bells of the virtualization software – they simply want a solid, fast experience to get in, run professional programs or play a few games, and get out. For VMware Fusion users in particular, they tend to care more about the CPU performance for professional apps rather than 3D graphics and frame rates. Read more
As customers begin receiving the new iMac this month, business-end users and gamers may find one issue when booting up their new machine. As reader Michael Verde first shared with us, the built-to-order 27-inch iMac configuration with a 3TB Fusion Drive (an extra $400) will not allow any Boot Camp use. This essentially cuts off access to a full Windows experience that some Mac users may want to benefit from. Many might consider this a bummer, as a sizable amount of users turn to Boot Camp to access necessary Windows programs or just simply enjoy Windows paired with Mac hardware.
Apple highlighted the issue on both its iMac configuration and Fusion Drive explanation page. “Boot Camp Assistant is not supported at this time on 3TB hard drive configurations,” Apple said in buried text. “At this time,” could mean the feature is enabled down the road in a software update, but it is non-existent as of now.
There are virtualization solutions, such as Parelles and VM Ware, that provide a Windows experience, but they do not offer a full experience that many may want. Boot Camp users include gamers who want to run games at full settings and business users looking to use specific business apps in a full Windows environment.
Right now it is not clear what the cause is, or if it has anything to do with Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology, but it seems that Boot Camp is limited to hard drive with less than 2TB of space (PC World has a good explanation for this). Announced in October and shipping in the new Mac Mini and iMacs, the top Fusion Drive configuration provides 128GB of flash storage coupled with 3TB of HDD space. The cheaper configuration, 128GB Flash Storage + 1TB HDD, supports Boot Camp. So, we have to wonder: what is holding back the more expensive configuration? We reached out to Apple for comment.
According to a forum post on tonymacx86, Apple’s latest release of Mountain Lion, the 10.8 developer preview, is able to natively support AMD Radeon HD 6950 and 6970 without the need for any tweaks or hacks. As for the 6950 and 6970 specifically, the reports originate from the netkas.org forums where several posters report a 6950 running Netkas EFI working natively in 10.8. One poster even reported the 6950 continues to be recognized in Lion with unmodified drivers after “warm booting back to Lion from Mountain Lion.”
There are still issues, as tonymacx86 posters pointed out: “It looks like the 69xx situation seems a bit immature and experimental at this point. Even in the new OS.” Another forum poster claimed NVIDIA 5xx cards also seem to run natively with mkchis claiming full support for the GTX 570 graphics card with no hacks or mods. He said it is “running at full res even smoother than a patched Lion. It’s like native.”
When it comes to booting from Mountain Lion to Lion with unmodified drivers, one poster warned it does not seem to work if you are connecting a display to the 6950. The good news is a prominent hackintosher informed us that Chimera was updated to run on both Lion and Mountain Lion with a dev release coming within days:
We’ve fixed Chimera to work with both LIon and Mtn. Lion- there was a small change necessary to boot 10.8. We’ll be releasing that in a day or 2 for devs.
As a side note for Mountain Lion support, Robservatory shared its method of getting VMware Tools to work when running Mountain Lion in VMware Fusion. According to the post, Mountain Lion “will kernel panic” when trying to install VMware Tools. Here is the fix:
VMware, the maker of a popular virtualization software Fusion, seems to be backpedalling on the last week’s release of VMware Fusion 4.1 for the Mac. As originally noted by Macworld, Fusion 4.1 was released with support for virtualization of Lion, Snow Leopard and Leopard clients. A dialog box pops up when installing an operating system client in Fusion 4.1, asking user to “verify” that they are in compliance with their software’s licensing terms.
In essence, this removes VMware from the position of having to evaluate and enforce Apple’s operating-system license, and instead leaves the decision in the hands of users.
In a new blog post today, VMware hinted an upcoming update will “fix” their “mistake”.
When the license verification step was added in VMware Fusion 4.1 the server edition check was omitted. We are preparing an update. [...] Users should always ensure they remain in compliance with any applicable software license agreements.
Of course, per Apple’s EULA only server software is supposed to be virtualized and the above wording pretty much spells doom for Snow Leopard or Leopard client virtualization in the next Fusion release. At the end of the day, VMware is fixing Fusion the same way people fix their dogs. What is Apple’s official stance on this issue?
Windows/Linux Virtualization on the Mac is mostly a 3 player game these days. You have the open source/free VirtualBox that was purchased by Oracle as part of its Sun acquisition two years ago. It is a basic emulator which works as a get what you pay for kind of basic functionality solution. Oracle isn’t big on free Open Source products so don’t expect it to get a lot better any time soon.
That leaves the two big players, Parallels and VMware Fusion. Both companies recently released updates to their software and both can now virtualize another instance of Mac OS X (great for developers who need to test their apps on older software or users who need applications that require Rosetta for instance). MacTech did a comprehensive set of Benchmarks and came away with a clear speed winner.
In the vast majority of overall our tests, Parallels Desktop 7 won. Again, if you count up the general tests (including the top 3D graphics scores), Parallels won 60% of the tests by 10% or more. And, if you include all the tests where Parallels was at least 5% faster, as well as the balance of the 3DMark06 graphics tests, Parallels increased the lead further. In other words, Parallels Desktop 7 beat VMware Fusion 4.0.2 in 74.9% of the general tests we ran, and Parallels was double the speed or more in almost a quarter of the top-level tests.
VMware obviously has a larger install base in the Enterprise with a longer history of virtualization on the PC. However with benchmarks leaning heavily toward Parallels, some Mac-focused businesses may start to tip toward Parallels.
We’ll have an in-depth look at Parallels 7 coming up as well as a contest where we’ll be handing out a few interesting prizes including a MacBook Air. Stay Tuned!