What users are saying about
73 Ratings
65 Ratings
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Score 8.2 out of 100
73 Ratings
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Score 9.2 out of 100

Highlights

Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are both remote desktop software designed to help users run windows software on computers running the Mac OS operating system.  Both software options are most popular with mid-sized businesses, but VMware fusion is slightly more popular with larger enterprises, perhaps due to its integrations with other VMware software.

Features

Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion both offer essential remote desktop features such as screen capture and viewing, but they also have a few standout features that set them apart from each other. 

Parallels Desktop offers simple installation of multiple operating systems such as Windows and Ubuntu with a single click.  Additionally, Parallels Desktop offers fast boots, with Windows boots generally finishing in under 5 seconds.  Lastly, Parallels Desktop allows for optimized virtual machine resource usage by allowing for virtual machine pauses, and disk optimization.

VMware Fusion provides high performance virtual machines, especially in terms of graphics.  In benchmarking tests, Vmware Fusion performs better graphically than most remote desktop software including Parallels. VMware Fusion also offers support for high performance monitors, including 5k iMacs.

Limitations

Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion can both run Windows Software on Mac devices, but they have some limitations that are important to consider.

Parallels Desktop performs well in CPU tests, but does not perform as well as VMware Fusion when it comes to graphics. Businesses looking for high performance graphics should consider other options.  Compounding this issue, Parallels doesn’t include native support for 5k monitors, so businesses that need highest quality aesthetics may prefer VMware Fusion.

VMware Fusion is more difficult to implement compared to Parallels.  Multiple operating systems can be installed using VMware Fusion, but not with a single click. Additionally, while VMware Fusion performs well graphically, it doesn’t perform as well in CPU tests and takes longer to boot up virtual machines.

Pricing

Parallels offers a single price point for businesses, $99.99 per year for each license. VMware Fusion similarly offers a single rate for businesses, $79.99 per year per license.

Community Pulse

Reviewers Who Considered Both Products

Parallels Desktop

Chose Parallels Desktop

I have used VirtualBox on Windows as a free alternative, as I only used it to access an old scanner without recent drivers. So far, I stick with Parallels, but the OpenGL limitations are said to be resolved better with VMware Fusion. But I currently don't want to migrate to …

Chose Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop ends up filling the sweet spot between free, but basic application (VirtualBox), and fully featured enterprise application (VMware Fusion.). Even at this point, we don't use all of the features of Parallels, but the perceived performance boost over VirtualBox …

Chose Parallels Desktop

VMware Fusion is also a good product, but it tended to be a little more difficult to configure, and the price tag was higher in terms of the volume purchasing that we required.

Chose Parallels Desktop

I'm a longtime user of VMware Fusion and I still use it in some cases. We use it on RedHat Linux computers to run other Linux environments with specific software development environment configurations. I've also used VMware Fusion on a MacBook Pro laptop to run Windows and …

Chose Parallels Desktop

Parallels [Desktop] is more polished and has a friendlier interface than VMware Fusion. While the VMware Fusion licensing model is simpler Parallels [Desktop] innovates faster and optimizes their product more often and with more features that customers want. At their core they …

Chose Parallels Desktop

If you can follow a prompt and click a button, you can install Parallels. We chose Parallels because they make it so simple to buy, install, set up, and add licenses. I work with Creatives and getting them to run a Windows environment is a painful task. With Parallels, we can …

Chose Parallels Desktop

At the end of the day, it seemed like Parallels Desktop has the fastest product with a feature set that was most important to our users. Additionally, it seemed to hit a mark where it was easy enough for our less tech-savvy users, but powerful enough for our users that really …

VMware Fusion

Chose VMware Fusion

If you only need to run a single Windows VM for a handful of applications and do not need to do testing or run multiple operating systems, Parallels Desktop may be the better choice, especially for less technical end users. Parallels is a bit more user friendly. If you need …

Chose VMware Fusion

As mentioned previously, perpetual licensing was the #1 reason. The interface is also cleaner, simpler, and less bloat. Parallels also seem to run a bit slower. Fusion was also more stable and significantly faster in both raw performance and graphics compared to Virtualbox. …

Chose VMware Fusion

  • GitHub and Bitbucket are both used by our company for code sharing and are much easier to use for collaborative source code versioning. We internally use GitHub and have some clients who use Bitbucket. In some cases, we have software projects that are very hard to configure, …

Chose VMware Fusion

VMWare Fusion is easier to deploy and manage than Parallels and also has a much simpler and less expensive licensing system. For us these are win-win.

Chose VMware Fusion

To be fair, with other products, if pricing was a problem for the organization, I would choose VirtualBox, because it works very well on Mac environment and it has most of the features that VMware Fusion has. However, I personally like the way I can run my Microsoft Windows …

Chose VMware Fusion

As Hyper-V is Windows specific product, and primarily designed for Windows Server, it is difficult to compare Fusion and Hyper-V as they cater to different customer needs.

Comparing Fusion to Parallels is a bit more complicated as they are extremely similar products. Briefly, …

Chose VMware Fusion

VM Fusion is a leader. It has more functionality and capability for workstation virtualization application. Its unity view and resource management of virtual guests is far superior to any other Mac workstation virtualization applications on the market.

Chose VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion works much better for us because of the migration capabilities. We use VMware vSphere and the migration/conversion is seamless. Some of the other virtualization application do not covert or migrate VMs onto other platforms as easily.

Chose VMware Fusion

VMware fusion is very similar to Parallels but is lower priced, so its my preferred solution for running Windows on a macintosh computer. Vmware is also made by a much more well known company with a large support staff in place, so getting help with vmware fusion is always …

Chose VMware Fusion

Fusion seems to run better than Parallels. It also is much more user friendly and intuitive to use.

Chose VMware Fusion

All of this changes from year to year, too. Parallels and VMware both require that you buy an annual license every year to get updates that pack in performance gains and feature improvements. These annual updates are great in theory, but they’re not cheap, and they come every …

Feature Set Ratings

    Remote Administration

    8.6

    Parallels Desktop

    86%

    VMware Fusion

    Feature Set Not Supported
    N/A
    Parallels Desktop ranks higher in 13/13 features

    Screen sharing

    9.1
    91%
    5 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    File transfer

    9.3
    93%
    16 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Instant message

    6.0
    60%
    2 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Secure remote access with Smart Card authentication

    7.9
    79%
    2 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Access to sleeping/powered-off computers

    8.0
    80%
    5 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Over-the-Internet remote session

    7.9
    79%
    6 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Remote management of servers & workstations

    10.0
    100%
    2 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Remote Active Directory® management

    9.0
    90%
    3 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Centralized management dashboard

    9.0
    90%
    7 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Session record

    9.3
    93%
    5 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Annotations

    8.7
    87%
    4 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Monitoring and Alerts

    8.7
    87%
    5 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Multi-platform remote control

    9.0
    90%
    5 Ratings
    N/A
    0 Ratings

    Attribute Ratings

    • Parallels Desktop is rated higher in 1 area: Usability
    • VMware Fusion is rated higher in 2 areas: Likelihood to Recommend, Support Rating
    • Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are tied in 2 areas: Likelihood to Renew, Implementation Rating

    Likelihood to Recommend

    8.1

    Parallels Desktop

    81%
    20 Ratings
    9.4

    VMware Fusion

    94%
    19 Ratings

    Likelihood to Renew

    10.0

    Parallels Desktop

    100%
    1 Rating
    10.0

    VMware Fusion

    100%
    2 Ratings

    Usability

    10.0

    Parallels Desktop

    100%
    2 Ratings
    9.0

    VMware Fusion

    90%
    3 Ratings

    Support Rating

    9.0

    Parallels Desktop

    90%
    11 Ratings
    10.0

    VMware Fusion

    100%
    10 Ratings

    Implementation Rating

    10.0

    Parallels Desktop

    100%
    3 Ratings
    10.0

    VMware Fusion

    100%
    2 Ratings

    Likelihood to Recommend

    Corel Corporation

    The product has evolved over the years and has become a lot easier to use than before. Deploying Virtual Machines is quick and easy and multiple methods from ISO files to direct selection of products is possible with minimal effort. Any organization needing to test or simply do business on multiple platforms without having separate computers for each OS, will love Parallels Desktop. It is doing the same revolution for desktop computers as VMWare did for servers
    Read full review

    VMware

    Due to its perpetual licensing model, VMware Fusion is a great option for users whose needs do not change as much over time. It is also great for occasional-use scenarios such as testing and preparing code to run on newer platforms. Fusion is not really recommended for running graphics-intense applications as graphics acceleration in Fusion is fairly limited in both performance and API support. It has, however, come a very long way and offers near-native performance for many tasks.
    Read full review

    Pros

    Corel Corporation

    • File Transfer - You can easily transfer files between Parallels virtualized desktops and the host desktop either through Copy and Paste functionality, or Drag and Drop. You can also configure shared folders.
    • Switch Between Virtual and Host Desktop - You can configure swipe gestures on a MacBook Pro to be able to switch between the virtualized and host desktop. You can also launch apps from the OS X Taskbar.
    • Performance - Apps in Parallels run quite smoothly on my 2015 MacBook Pro, as of 2020. Considering they are running on a 5-year-old computer, I give Parallels top marks for performance.
    Read full review

    VMware

    • Allows users to run Windows only applications on their Mac without switching devices.
    • Fusion is excellent for Windows image creation, and works exceptionally well on the Mac environment.
    • Assists a Mac user to virtualize Windows apps.
    • Excellent for installing Linux distros for penetration testing.
    Read full review

    Cons

    Corel Corporation

    • No update for OpenGL 3, which prevents some 3D applications from launching. The Windows-version of SketchUp is but one example.
    • Frequent (yearly) updates which don't always bring benefits (I always skip at least one version).
    • If you don't be careful, it generates 100s of useless Windows-application wrappers in macOS which sometimes take precedence in spotlight over the Mac apps I usually need to use (e.g. SketchUp, Excel, Word, Evernote...). More than once I launched Parallels instead of opening the native Mac app.
    Read full review

    VMware

    • With OSX - 10.14.1 and the latest version of Fusion - 11.0.2 the user interface has taken a step back IMHO.
    • I would like to see price decrease.
    • Better remote host connection capabilities - remote server connections are available but connections are spotty.
    Read full review

    Pricing Details

    Parallels Desktop

    Starting Price

    $99 per license/per year

    Editions & Modules

    Parallels Desktop editions and modules pricing
    EditionModules
    Parallels Desktop79.991
    Parallels Desktop Pro Edition992
    Parallels Desktop Business Edition99.993
    Parallels Desktop 1649.994
    Parallels Desktop Pro Edition49.995

    Footnotes

    1. per license
    2. per license/per year
    3. per license/per year
    4. per license
    5. per license/per year

    Offerings

    Free Trial
    Free/Freemium Version
    Premium Consulting/Integration Services

    Entry-level set up fee?

    No setup fee

    Additional Details

    VMware Fusion

    Starting Price

    Editions & Modules

    VMware Fusion editions and modules pricing
    EditionModules

    Footnotes

      Offerings

      Free Trial
      Free/Freemium Version
      Premium Consulting/Integration Services

      Entry-level set up fee?

      No setup fee

      Additional Details

      Likelihood to Renew

      Corel Corporation

      The software just works. I will say the renewal process is frustrating if you are decreasing seats, but otherwise the software and the account management is simple and perfect.
      Read full review

      VMware

      For Apple workstations VMware Fusion is the virtualization software to use. No other application (free or paid) can do what Fusion can. The features and constant updates make Fusion an application that cant be beat.
      Read full review

      Usability

      Corel Corporation

      It has a good integration, including the connection of peripherals. Taking files back and forth works well and I can attach my Home drive as a network drive in Windows. There is even integration with iCloud and other macOS services. There are also a few different display modes which are useful and fleixible (coherence, windowed, full-screen with multiple screens)
      Read full review

      VMware

      Sometimes the best surprise is no surprise and Fusion is just that. It's reliable and generally just works as expected every time (the only exception was running a boot camp install directly but that use-case scenario opens a can of worms due to how product activation works) The interface and settings are clean and simple and there is no hide and seek games to play.
      Read full review

      Support Rating

      Corel Corporation

      We have had rare occasions to contact support about the product. Most questions were easily answered from the knowledge base. When we have had to contact support they were able to provide us with a couple of different solutions and enough resources about how to accomplish said solutions that solving the problem was easy enough.
      Read full review

      VMware

      I have never contacted VMware, but there is a lot of support online on message boards, forums, StackOverflow, YouTube tutorial videos, and the like. VMware has been around nine years longer than its leading competitor, VirtualBox, although both seem to have a good presence of online user communities who can help solve issues that come up.
      Read full review

      Implementation Rating

      Corel Corporation

      The only advice I can provide is think about who is using the product and build the image based on the true needs of the user.
      Read full review

      VMware

      This is a workstation application and no install insights are needed.
      Read full review

      Alternatives Considered

      Corel Corporation

      Parallels offers a much more streamlined and easier to navigate VM configuration interface. Once configured, device compatibility and overall system efficiency appears to be better in Parallels Desktop compared to others. Integration between the Mac host OS and the VM is virtually seamless whether you are just sharing files between the two operating systems or utilizing full-on Coherence mode.
      Read full review

      VMware

      I've heard of other/competitive software but frankly once I tried VMware, I never looked back. There is absolutely nothing that I need that this product does not deliver. It's fast, effective and seems to be extremely durable and reliable. My only concern (and minor) might have to do with memory resources, but frankly it has not been an issue yet.
      Read full review

      Return on Investment

      Corel Corporation

      • Clearly much cheaper than purchasing a 2nd machine to run Windows on
      • Allows me to work faster with out have to move files from a machine/Drive to another
      • Annual subscription model is a bit cumbersome to renew - would rather just pay a one time flat fee
      Read full review

      VMware

      • Users using a VM often don't need something as "fancy" as VMware Fusion, and instead can use a free option like Virtual Box, so we waste money on using an extra amount of VMware Fusion licenses.
      • Developers using and IT admins using VMware Fusion for testing saves us time and money. Simply, we know mistakes would take time and money to fix, but VMware is powerful, allows for proper and fast testing.
      Read full review

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