VMware Fusion is a great operation for running virtual machines on a Mac.
January 28, 2019

VMware Fusion is a great operation for running virtual machines on a Mac.

Aaron Pinsker | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion is primarily used by clients who need to access Windows-specific applications on their Macs. In most organizations I manage, VMware is used as a last resort, when no Mac alternatives are available. Typically, VMware is used on a user-by-user basis, only those users that need to run a specific Windows program will have access to VMware, to reduce licensing costs. In addition, VMware Fusion is also used by myself personally to create multiple virtual machines across different OSs (Windows, Linux varieties, and macOS) for testing and experimentation purposes.
  • In general, VMware Fusion is very easy to set up and manage, with a fairly comprehensive step-by-step install process for different OSs.
  • For non-3D work, VMware is quite fast and can handle a number of CPU-demanding work loads.
  • VMware has tight integration with macOS through various ways of sharing files b/w virtual machines and the real machine, window management (such as using macOS' native full-screen mode and its Unity mode, wherein virtual applications appear to be running natively within the OS) and printer sharing.
  • VMware has a very good and reasonable licensing system - a single license is good for two computers, especially when compared to Parallels.
  • VMware Fusion is designed to work with other VMware products, such as VMware Workstation, ESC and vCenter Server. This allows VMware Fusion to create a virtual machine on a remote server.
  • For 3D work or 3D gaming, VMware Fusion falls short of the main competition of Parallels. Though, 3D work in general is not well suited for virtual machines.
  • VMware Fusion lacks some more professional features such as a headless mode, by being run as a service in the background. In order for a virtual machine to be up and running, the VMware Fusion application must be open and the virtual machine visible. By comparison, Parallels allows for a virtual machine to automatically open at login, and in the background without the Parallels program needing to be opened. This is a great feature if a VM is being used a server and does not require regular user interaction.
  • VMware Fusion's integration with Apple's Bootcamp technology is severely lacking when compared to Parallels. Whereas Parallels can boot directly from a Bootcamp partition, or even use a Bootcamp partition as a disk within a VM, VMware Fusion can only create a new VM based on a Bootcamp partition.
  • While Fusion supports most Linux variations, it lacks the ability to automatically download the freely available OS install images (unlike Parallels).
  • VMware Fusion has had an almost universal positive impact on ROI. Instead of a user needing to have both a Mac and PC, s/he can just have a Mac and run whatever Windows program necessary in a Fusion virtual machine.
  • Being able to have a single powerful machine that is running multiple virtual machines also drastically reduces the costs of computer hardware purchased
  • Perhaps the only negative ROI is that there are free alternatives out there (specifically Virtual Box), that can do similar things (albeit not as well).
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, VMware has a drastically better licensing system and licensing terms as compared to Parallels. VMware is licensed for up to two computers, and is extremely easy to transfer licenses from one to another. Parallels, by contrast, is licensed for a single computer and can be extremely difficult to transfer that license to a different computer. In addition, Fusion is a part of a plethora of other VMware products that all work very well together and have great support from VMware.

On the other end, Parallels has a plethora of power-user features that VMware lacks (such as command line tools and the ability to run a VM as a background service) and in general has better support for 3D workflows.

In the end, in spite of Parallels having a good deal more power-use features than VMware Fusion, Fusion's better licensing terms and support makes it a better choice for the vast majority of users who need VM support.

VMware Fusion is very well suited for creating virtual machines that are regularly accessed by users and not designed to just be run in the background as a service or server. Fusion's licensing terms also make it a more ideal product when used on a large scale as compared to its main competition in Parallels. In addition, Fusion is a good solution when other VMware products are already being used on other systems, and the interoperability between Fusion and other VMware products is quite good.

Fusion is not an ideal solution for those that need to run 3D programs, as its support for 3D-based workflows is somewhat lackluster. In addition, while a virtual machine can be run in the background as a minimized window, it really isn't designed to run a virtual machine as a background service.

VMware Fusion Feature Ratings