VMWare Fusion 3 or Parallels 5? My two cents.

It has been a month now since my last post. Unfortunately I have been very busy in the office and more than that I also lost my old PC.

Now, I bought a nice MacBookPro 13” with an SD disk and I can’t complain at all about performances and robustness of my new laptop.

As many of you already know, I am a Windows Developer, or better, I use .NET as my primary development tool. As you can understand this requirement doesn’t fit at all with my new Laptop, a Steve Jobs’ “PC”.

Also I want to let you know that I didn’t have any intention to buy an MBP and use Windows on it, it doesn’t make any sense. Also I am not afraid saying that Snow Leopard is an awesome operating system, really well done. So for these reasons here we come with the virtualization solution I have tried in the latest month.

There are two major software for virtualize Windows on a MAC. The first is VMWare Fusion 3, a product of the famous software house specialized in virtualization, VMWare; the second is Parallels Desktop for MAC.

I tried both software for the evaluation period and I want to be honest, after I tried parallels (it was the second one) I pointed my choice to it without any reserve.

But let’s just review what you can do with Fusion and what you can do with Parallels.


The first thing that everyone of you will notice is the price. Pretty cheap for what the software does and pretty close one to the other one. VMWare Fusion is sold now for 79 USD without assistance or subscription and 99 with 12 months subscription. Parallels is sold for 79 USD and you can add 6 USD if you want to be able to get the software download available for 12 months.

Trial version. Both trials are full for 30 days is Fusion and for 15 is Parallels. The big difference is that for Fusion you need to register an account on their web site and I got an answer from then with the serial key, only the next day. With parallels you get everything you need in the same time you download the trial. Very quick.

Windows Installation. For both system I did a full customized installation in a new expandable virtual disk. Here there is nothing to say more than Parallels was much faster. Maybe 10 minutes to get Windows 7 ready to go? Fusion spent more time … and then you need to install this and that. With parallels my machine was ready to go after the installation.

Modality. If you ever worked in the past with another VMWare product, you know that they provide 2 way to integrate the guest system with the host. You can use the VM Player or you can use Unity. With Unity you will have the active program running in windows, integrated into your MAC OS. And here we come with the huge difference. Parallels has 5 different ways to integrate windows inside your MAC. The best is the crystal mode. Here is a small summary of the parallels display futures:

  • New! MacLook Theme — Transform Windows applications by making them look like native Mac applications
  • New! Crystal Mode — Pull the shades on Windows altogether. Access Windows and Mac apps from the Mac Dock
  • Coherence — Run Windows and Mac apps side-by-side as if both operating systems have melted together into one.
  • Window — Choose to run your Virtual Machine as a separate window alongside your Mac apps.
  • Modality — View all your Virtual Machines and programs running in transparent windows working in Mac OS X.
    Full Screen — Don’t give up the familiarity of Windows. Replace your Mac desktop with Windows 7, Vista, or XP

Visual Studio 2010. I tried different approaches with both systems but if you try to use Windows Aero on Fusion running VS, the system is slow and also the screen has a strange refresh. I also enabled the 3D acceleration but nothing changed. With Parallels I am doing this: VS2010 + Windows Live Writer + Photoshop CS4 on MAC + iTunes on MAC in the same time and I can’t complain at all. Look at this screenshot:


Shared spaces. If you use the integration on Fusion “Unity” or one of the various integration in Parallels you can share the data from Win to MAC OS. This is pretty cool especially if you are working with Live Writer on Windows and Photoshop on MAC. Unfortunately if you plan to share a VS Solution, due to permissions problems and wrong setup, with Fusion it can be a pain in the neck.
I can’t complain at all about Parallels, I can simply copy something from my MAC desktop and paste it directly inside Live Writer or vice-versa.

I don’t know what you think about having a MAC OS and working on VS 2010 but now that I am working on a MAC, thanks to Parallels, I won’t move anymore back to a PC, trust me!

Technorati Tags: VMWare Fusion,Parallels



re: VMWare Fusion 3 or Parallels 5? My two cents.

Very interesting article. I, too, am a .Net developer moving to Mac.

How’s the performance of VS in your VM? I run virtual box on my linux laptop, and have notices that solution load times and build times are faster in my VM than on a comparable windows machine.

Did you notice an significant performance differences between Parallels and Fusion?

Overall, how has your experience been developing in VS in Parallels?
4/18/2010 12:37 PM | Jason P

re: VMWare Fusion 3 or Parallels 5? My two cents.

At the moment I have a Mac Book Pro 13″ with a Core Duo 2.53 and the SSD. The SSD is giving you the difference, trust me. MAC OS takes 5 seconds to boot …
I use Win 7 Ultimate x64 with VS 2010 Ultimate. It’s simply crazy fast. The difference between VMWare and Parallels, on a MAC, is huge. No problem on compiling and no problem on VS at all.
Also I have VM in the office and my parallels at home is much faster, trust me! Also the Parallels team is very flexible and reliable.
4/18/2010 12:47 PM | raffaeu

re: VMWare Fusion 3 or Parallels 5? My two cents.

Any thoughts about performance differences running Win 7 in Parallels 5 on a 2009 UB MBP (e.g. 17”) vs. the new 2010 models? Do you think from a user standpoint, the experience would feel pretty much the same, or would there be a significant improvement in the new UB MBPs?
4/23/2010 5:13 PM | Dan L

re: VMWare Fusion 3 or Parallels 5? My two cents.

Well this is a particular question because everything depends on your hardware. For example, I have a 13″ MBP with a core duo 2.53 Ghz, but the real deal on my PC is the disk, I have an SSD and I can guaranty that the disk is making the difference, not the CPU.
Of course you will find the new MBP faster but beware because they won’t provide an i5 CPU in the 13″ model. You can easily purchase a 13″ with an SSD and 4Gb of RAM and run Visual Studio 2010 on Win 7 like a charm without any problem.
Trust me.
4/26/2010 8:09 AM | raffaeu

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