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11/5/2009
08:38 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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New Ways To Run Windows On Your Macs

Both commercial options that let Mac-based businesses run Windows programs have gotten upgrades in the past week. Both VMware Fusion 3 and Parallels Desktop 5 claim to be significantly faster than existing versions, to integrate Windows better into the Mac experience, and to fully support Windows 7.

Both commercial options that let Mac-based businesses run Windows programs have gotten upgrades in the past week. Both VMware Fusion 3 and Parallels Desktop 5 claim to be significantly faster than existing versions, to integrate Windows better into the Mac experience, and to fully support Windows 7.Even the best-equipped Mac office may sometimes need to run a Windows application, such as Internet Explorer to test a website's compatibility. They can use Apple's Boot Camp to boot into Windows directly, but it's more convenient to run Windows in a virtual environment that permits on-the-fly switching between Windows apps and Mac apps. That's the point of both Fusion and Parallels.

The new version of VMware Fusion claims to have more than 50 new features, including 64-bit support for Snow Leopard. It promises to enable "the full Windows 7 experience," including the Aero and Flip 3D interface enhancements. It also lets Windows applications work with OS X technologies like Expos and Spaces, and puts a Fusion icon in the Mac menu bar for quick launching of Windows programs.

For its part, Parallels Desktop claims more than 70 new features. It also supports Aero and Flip3D and is optimized for 64-bit Snow Leopard. Parallels provides multiple viewing modes, including one that puts a Windows menu in the OS X menu bar, like Fusion does. On laptops, Parallels lets Windows applications suppoort the Mac's multi-touch trackpad gestures.

Don't Miss: Building The Mac Office

Both packages also offer ways to make it easy to transfer files and applications from a PC to a Mac, for those who might be using virtual Windows as part of a switch to the Mac. But one thing to remember is that neither one actually comes bundled with Windows -- they provide virtual machines to run Windows in, but it's still BYOS.

As far as which one to get: they both have free trials, so it's easy for an SMB to see which one matches the way they like to work. Both packages cost $80 new; upgrades to Fusion 3 from previous versions are $40, while upgrades to Parallels 5 are $50. Multiple-license deals are also available for both.

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