VMware 2.0 vs. Parallels 4

As an update to my earlier post about VMware vs. Boot Camp, I’m now adding Parallels to the mix.  I used the same Boot Camp partition that I used in the VMware  vs. Boot Camp scenario.  I installed all of the Parallels tools onto Vista and restarted… The verdict: *drumroll* – Parallels and VMware are identical in the performance department as far as I can tell from normal developer use.  The Windows Experience Index scores were refreshed and displayed exactly the same numbers as were shown when running Windows through VMware.  When running programs such as Visual Studio 2008, the performance was identical.

So now that the test have been run and show that the two programs aren’t competing in the performance department, how do you know which one to use?  I think it all boils down to your personal preference for the different features that are offered in each application.  That being said some of the features are identical in both applications: for example, the integration of open windows into the Mac OS dock, as well as the proper display of windows in Expose.  Let’s take a quick look at two of the features that are different.

VMware’s Unity vs Parallels’ Coherence:
One of the cool features about these two products is their Mac OS integration feature.  By running either of these modes, the virtual machine application will place your windows application right into the Mac OS look and feel.  The only large difference between the two is that VMWare has an application launcher built into the menu of the VMware Fusion Mac application, and Parallels places the start menu at the bottom of the screen, but on top of the dock.  This over the dock approach is very ugly to me and ruins the feel of my Mac OS.

Running Windows applications from VMware Fusion

Running Windows applications from VMware Fusion

Parallels Integration

Parallels Integration

Parallels’ Modality:
Parallels’ has one feature that VMware Fusion doesn’t have, and they call it Modality.  This places a mini, scalable version of the Windows desktop on your screen.  The cool thing about it is that you can be fully interactive with all the shrunken pieces.  The not so cool thing about it is that I can’t figure out a good reason to use your Windows desktop in that manner.  Why would you shrink it?  Not sure, but the option is there.

Paralells Modality

Paralells Modality

To finish off this mini review, I’ve just got word that VMware Fusion takes the Eddy Winner prize over at Macworld.

Update: The deadline for entering programs into the Eddy award contest happened before Parallels 4 was released so Parallels 4 wasn’t even considered when handing out the awards.  However, in the comments below, Rob Griffith, the writer of the article, states:

“Yes, that’s exactly why Parallels 4 wasn’t even considered — it was released after the deadline. With that said, even if Parallels 4 had been released prior to the deadline, my vote still would have gone to Fusion 2. We’ll have reviews of both programs (along with VirtualBox) online shortly, but in the hundreds of hours I’ve spent with all three of the programs in the last month or so, Fusion 2 is the better of the two programs. It’s got stronger DirectX support, uses less CPU resources, and works much better with multiple monitors (both inside the VM and outside the VM) than does Parallels. I also ran into a few troubling bugs in Parallels 4 (with SmartMount, Shared Profiles, migrating a VM, and Coherence mode) during my testing.

That’s not to say Parallels is a bad program by any stretch — it’s quite well done, and I love its new Modality mode. But head-to-head with Fusion 2, I think it comes out in second place by a small margin.”

… and I think we have our winner.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 28, 2008 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I use vmware just beacause the unity mode. Otherwise, I’d use Parallels.

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