We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
 
Operating systems Reviews
15,113 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

VMware Fusion 3 review

£69 inc VAT

Manufacturer: VMware

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The latest version of VMware Fusion 3 brings invaluable new functions to the Windows virtualisation software for Macintosh.

The latest version of VMware Fusion 3 brings invaluable new functions to the Windows virtualisation software for Macintosh.

Almost overnight, running Windows on a Mac became a viable option when Apple adopted Intel processors in 2006. As well as installing Windows directly onto a separate disk partition, allowing you to work natively in Windows, virtualization software packages appeared that enabled the simultaneous use of Windows from within Mac OS X - and all without rebooting.

The first commercial offering was Parallels Desktop for Mac, followed shortly after by VMware's Fusion. The two companies have been playing tag since, each adding features and functionality to match and then trump their competitor.

With the latest VMware Fusion 3, VMware has introduced key new functions that particularly address the running of Windows 7 and Vista, as well as numerous small interface and performance tweaks.

The most visually arresting sight is the new graphics system, which finally enables the use of Windows WDDM graphics. When Microsoft launched Vista, it introduced a new way to draw screen graphics - the Windows Display Driver Model - which is built around a new composite desktop graphics system.

The WDDM graphics update attempted in one swoop to reduce Windows' infamous blue-screen-of-death crashes, while also introducing the new desktop transparency effects known as Aero Glass.

Read PC Advisor's Apple news page

So now, when running relevant versions of Windows Vista or Windows 7 in VMware Fusion 3, you'll see semi-transparent edges to windows, while the Flip 3D application switcher can be invoked using the Windows-Tab keys (once you've deselected ‘Enable Mac OS Keyboard Shortcuts' in Fusion's preferences).

And in Windows 7, there are Aero Peek live thumbnails in the dock, along with Aero Shake and Aero Snap effects available.

Where the previous Fusion 2 supported DirectX 9.0c with Shader Model 2, Fusion 3 lists DirectX 9.0c with Shader Model 3. VMware has also added OpenGL 2.1 support in VMware Fusion 3, albeit only for Windows XP virtual machines - so Compiz effects in Linux remain out of reach.

In the OS X top menu strip, a new icon appears by default which lists currently open apps in the Windows virtual machine (VM). Also here are links to View, Virtual Machine and Window settings.

Under ‘View', you can elect to use Unity, which switches off the usual Windows desktop, leaving just open apps to mingle with OS X apps. In Unity mode, the Windows colour scheme also switches back to opacity alongside Mac apps, rather than full Aero transparency, and trailing ghosts appear behind dragged windows.

The integration of Apple's Exposé is useful, though, so that VM windows will appear like normal Mac windows when the function is invoked.

There was also some minor issues such as undocked Windows apps losing their contents until they'd been refreshed by clicking on the app icon in the Mac Dock.

NEXT PAGE: More new features, and benchmark tests >>

VMware Fusion 3 Expert Verdict »
Intel-processor Macintosh
Mac OS X 10.58 or later
1GB RAM
700MB available disk space
nVidia 8600M/ATI Radeon 2600 or better recommended for Windows Aero support
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 9 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

There were a few glitches in the rendering of Windows 7 virtual machines, but not enough to spoil the essential operation of this powerful package. We’ll cover the new Parallels 5 in a forthcoming review to see how the two options now compare. In the meantime, we found that in Fusion 3, VMware has made some notable and useful improvements over its predecessor, adding a some extra speed, along with the key upgrade in the appearance of Windows Vista and later Microsoft OSes.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • VMware Fusion 2.0 Beta 2 review

    VMware Fusion 2.0 Beta 2

    VMware has opened the doors to the second beta release of VMware Fusion 2.0, VMware's Mac desktop virtualisation package.

  • Parallels Desktop 8 vs VMware Fusion 5 comparison review: best way to run Windows on Mac

    Parallels Desktop 8 vs VMware Fusion 5 comparison: best way to run Windows on Mac

    The two best options for running Windows (or any other OS) on your Mac are Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion. Here we compare Parallels and VMware to answer the question: what's the best way to run Windows on a Mac?

  • Parallels Desktop for Mac 5.0 review

    Parallels Desktop for Mac 5.0

    Hot on the heels of VMware's update of Fusion 3 comes Parallels Desktop for Mac 5.0. Like Fusion, Parallels now boasts support for Microsoft's WDDM graphics, allowing Aero effects in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

  • Parallels Desktop 4.0 review

    Parallels Desktop 4.0

    Parallels Desktop 4.0 is virtualisation software that allows you to run Windows operating systems on an Intel Mac.

  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac review

    Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac

    The latest Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac adds new features and performance to this versatile package for running Windows and Linux on a Mac, without rebooting


IDG UK Sites

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date, price and specs 2014

IDG UK Sites

What's the best smartwatch? 11 iWatch rivals compared in our wearables round-up

IDG UK Sites

App cloning: the mobile software industry’s hidden shame

IDG UK Sites

Developers get access to more Sony camera features