VMware continues their steady pace of releasing new products with an all new major release of VMware Fusion 6 this month! It seems like not too long ago I was writing my post for VirtualizationAdmin.com – VMware Fusion 5 – What’s New. As with VMware Fusion 5, there are over 50 new features in VMware Fusion 6. Let’s find out what they are and how they can help you!
VMware Fusion Facts
Before we get too far into the new features, if you haven’t used VMware Fusion before, let me first give you some background. If you are already a VMware Fusion user and just want to find out what’s new, go ahead and skip to the next section
VMware Fusion is a type 2 hypervisor for the Apple Mac OS X platform, which means that it runs inside your existing operating system (it doesn't replace it like VMware vSphere might replace the OS of a server running Windows Server). Fusion runs inside your existing desktop or laptop computer and allows you to run new operating systems inside. In the case of Fusion, the Mac system is the “host” and the virtual machines, running operating systems like Windows 8, Windows 2012, Linux, or Mac OS X are the “guest operating system”.
Fusion’s leading competitor is Parallels Desktop, who says that they have a stronger offering that Fusion 6 with their new release of “Desktop 9”. I have used Parallels and enjoyed it however, as a VMware vSphere Admin, I prefer having a VMware solution that is more compatible with my VMware infrastructure (at least to some degree). Still, if you don’t have a VMware vSphere infrastructure to worry about I encourage you to compare both Parallels and Fusion, head to head, to see which one fits your needs the best.
In fact, VMware says that they have done that already for us, in this (hopefully unbiased) comparison chart, which compares Fusion 5 to 6, Fusion 6 to Fusion 6 Pro, and Parallels to Fusion.
Top New Features of VMware Fusion 6
With that background in mind about VMware Fusion, let’s look at the latest and greatest features of Fusion 6.
The first and most important new feature in Fusion 6 has to be the support for all the latest and greatest operating systems. For example, the beta version of the next Mac OS (called “Mavericks”) is supported to be run as a guest OS.
Figure 1: New Operating System Support in Fusion
Personally I’m very excited to test and run Mavericks so I plan to begin testing it inside Fusion (Mac OS inside Mac OS) so it’s good to know that I shouldn’t have any trouble now that it is supported.
Besides Mavericks, the latest version of Microsoft Windows 8.1 is also supported as a guest operating system. This includes showing Metro applications in the dock, horizontal scrolling support for Metro in full screen, Windows 8 keyboard and mouse shortcuts), and added support for ESXi 5.5 and Ubuntu 13.04.
I’ve already been running the beta for VMware vSphere 5.5 for a few months, inside VMware Fusion version 5, without trouble.
If you aren’t trying to use the latest and greatest, VMware Fusion has the most operating system support of any desktop virtualization product with support for over 200 different operating systems.
If you go to create a custom virtual machine, you’ll be manually selecting the guest operating system vendor and the version of operating system. It's then that it hits you just how many guest operating systems that Fusion 6 supports. As you see in the graphic below, Mac OS 10.9 (Mavericks) is at the top of the Apple Mac OS X list.
A few things that are cool about the Mavericks support are:
- You can easily install Mavericks from the recovery partition of your Mac so that you don’t need to provide the ISO
- Optimized for the new Intel Haswell processors found on the latest Macbook Air laptops so to save on battery life when running virtual machines
- The new Mavericks multiple display features works with Fusion as well as support for AirPlay displays
Figure 2: Choosing an operating system
Whether you are using Mavericks or not, if you have a Retina display (like I do), the resolution of virtual machines running inside Fusion and the scalability of their display windows for resizing is impressive! It makes even Windows 8 a pleasure to use on my Mac :)
When it comes to Windows 8.1, Fusion supports the new Metro applications in Fusion’s unity mode. Also, there is enhanced dictation support available when using Windows guest virtual machines.
The second and most impressive feature is that VMware has doubled their scalability such that Fusion 6 can now handle up to 16 virtual CPUs, 64GB of RAM, and 8TB of disk space. This is great for those with high end Macs (and would be super cool to put to the test on one of those soon to be released Mac Pro system).
Figure 3: VMware Fusion Scalability
The third change that you need to know about is that Fusion is sold in two different editions – “Fusion” and “Fusion Pro”. The best way to think about this is that, as you might suspect, the Pro edition has more features and costs more. If you are an IT Pro or you are distributing VMs to people, for whatever reason, then the Pro edition may be worthwhile to you.
Here is how VMware’s comparison chart between Fusion and Fusion Pro explains the differences:
Figure 4: Comparing Fusion and Fusion Pro
As shown in the chart, both versions of Fusion support OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1 but Fusion Pro offers the ability to create restricted virtual machines, expiring machines, linked clones, single VM mode, VMware Player 6, the network editor, and the eligibility for support.
The fourth new feature is the option to create restricted and encrypted virtual machines.
To create restricted virtual machines, go into the Settings for the virtual machine and click on Encryption and Restrictions. It’s here that you would first enable encryption and then, optionally, enable restrictions. Here’s what it looks like:
Figure 5: Fusion 6 Pro Encryption and Restrictions
To access the virtual machine, the user would need the password that you specified when you encrypted the VM. The restrictions that you could enable include the requirement for the user to change the password that you set, the option to allow USB devices to connect the restricted VM, the expiration of the virtual machine on a certain date and time, and other advanced options like you see in Figure 6, below:
Figure 6: Advanced Restrictions Available in Fusion 6 Pro
The fifth new feature that I especially like is the linked cloning feature. Only available in Fusion 6 Pro, linked cloning allows you to create duplicates of virtual machines (clones) but where only the changes to the virtual machine, from the time of duplication, are kept on disk. In other words, let’s say that you wanted to install three different versions of an application and then compare them, you could do that using linked clones and only the changes you make to those three virtual machines will occupy disk space. It’s a huge disk storage capacity saving feature!
Creating a linked clone is as easy as right-clicking on the virtual machine and clicking on Create Linked Clone.
Figure 7: Creating a Linked Clone in VMware Fusion 6
In summary, I am thankful that VMware continues to enhance VMware Fusion as it is a product I use almost every day. New features like linked clones, restricted virtual machines, the new Mac network editor (that was on Workstation but not in Fusion before), support for new operating systems, and enhanced scalability make Fusion even more fun to use than before :)
You can find more information on VMware Fusion 6 at the Fusion 6 product homepage.