A Review of VMware Fusion

I use Parallels on my iMac at work, and have had a few problems with it: the display sometimes flickers when I’m running Windows, and once I lost the Windows partition altogether and had to reinstall. So when I purchased a new Mac mini for use at home, I decided to try VMware Fusion. I have not been disappointed.

Based on recommendations I read on the web, I chose to install Windows XP using BootCamp, then installed Fusion and set it to use the BootCamp partition. The main advantage to this arrangement is that the machine can be booted directly into Windows, bypassing Fusion altogether if need be. The disadvantage is that you cannot suspend a Windows session.

The manual warned that when installed this way, Windows would have to be reactivated the first time it was booted under Fusion. Although it was a bit scary to see XP “broken” — I had just paid $180 for it, after all — the reactivation process was relatively painless: I called Microsoft via a toll-free number and read the product code to their voice-recognition system. An automated voice read out a new code, which I copied down and entered into my computer. With this new code, Windows booted up without a hitch, and has been running well ever since.

My impression is that Windows “feels” snappier under Fusion than under Parallels — this despite the fact that I’m running Fusion on a mini, which is a slower machine than the iMac at work where I run Parallels. Fusion also seems to be more stable. Using it, I have never had Windows lock up, and there have been no problem with display flicker, regardless of whether I’m running Windows in full-screen mode or in a window. All in all, I think Fusion is a great product and worth the money. One of these days I may even decide to install a version of Linux on my mini.


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