With very recent updates from both VMWare and Parallels, the virtualization arms race is once again heating up on the Macintosh. VMWare recently released VMWare Fusion 5 while Parallels just trotted out the release of Parallels Desktop 8. Both products are fully Mountain Lion compatible (Mac OS X 10.8.x), and both support that latest from Microsoft: the still iffy Windows 8.
The support for Mountain Lion is a big deal with this update. Both products had issues with OS X 10.8 in their prior release though each had offered patches to resolve some of the problems. But the latest versions of both products now support Notification Center, so alert message from the VM will be tucked away in the corner of the Mac’s screen for easy reference. Both packages offer support for Launchpad making it possible to have Windows based apps interspersed with Mac applications in the Mac Launchpad. And both make it possible to dictate text into Windows based applications using Mountain Lion’s built-in voice dictation functionality.
So, comparing the two environments head to head is difficult since they have the majority of their feature set in common. What many users want to know is simple: which solution is faster? It’s a simple question but it involves a lot of testing to come up with a good answer. Lucky for all of us, Jim Tanous over at MacObserver.com put in the effort. It looks like the competition was very close, but in the end he declared Parallels Desktop 8 the winner. That said, VMWare Fusion 5 was not far behind. Checkout Jim’s post with all of his benchmarks and incredibly detailed analysis here.
In the end, it doesn’t seem that either package will make for a poor solution for Mac users needing to run Windows. Both packages are remarkably well evolved and have come a very long way since their inception. And remember, in order to get the most out of a virtual machine, it is key to have plenty of RAM and a fast hard drive. Without enough memory, nothing is going to preform well. A computer can NEVER have too much RAM!
For those long term Mac users, think how far we have come since the days of Connectix Virtual PC running on PPC based systems. Todays slowest solutions don’t even compare. This is an entirely different world!