VMware upgrades Mac virtual machine software

VMware upgrades Mac virtual machine software

Fusion 2.0 is a free update for current users

VMware Tuesday shipped Fusion 2.0, a major update for its virtualization software that lets Intel-based Macs run Windows, Linux and other operating systems. The upgrade is free to current Fusion users.

After a four-month stretch in beta, Fusion 2.0 is ready for prime time, said Pat Lee, a VMware group manager. "We want our customers to see that Windows really is better on a Mac," Lee said in a statement.

Version 2.0 adds multi-monitor support and mirrored folders, as well as support for DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 2, crucial for 3D game-playing under Windows XP. Users can now also take and manage multiple "snapshots," VMware's term for saved versions of a virtual machine (VM) -- originally, only a single snapshot could exist at any one time -- and back up existing VMs automatically with a new auto-snapshot tool.

Other changes to the virtualization software include improvements to Unity, the Mac-Windows integration that puts Windows applications in Mac-style windows. Fusion 2.0 also embeds a free 12-month subscription to McAfee's VirusScan Plus anti-virus software in any VM running Windows.

The upgrade can be downloaded and installed free-of-charge by owners of Fusion 1.x; the price for first-time buyers is US$79.99 for a single license, US$349.99 for five seats and US$699.99 for 10. Currently, Fusion 2.0 is available only by electronic distribution from the company's site and several third-party online stores, including those operated by Apple, and Best Buy.

Fusion is one of the several virtualization programs available for the Macintosh. In the commercial arena, it goes head-to-head with Parallels' flagship Parallels Desktop for Mac. Another option is Sun Microsystems's open-source VirtualBox, which can be downloaded without charge.

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