What is VMware Fusion?
As the name suggests, VMware Fusion is a software hypervisor that uses a combination of hardware virtualization and paravirtualization to make a Mac run different operating systems as specified by the user. In simpler terms, it creates virtual machines that run guest operating systems on a Mac.
It was initially released in August 2014, with the latest stable released version 12.1.0 launching in November 2020. It was developed by VMware, Inc. Since much of VMware Fusion's underlying technology is inherited from other VMware products, it allows it to have features such as SMP and 64-bit support.
Why you may want something better
VMware Fusion is still considered young when compared to much older similar solutions such as Parallels which has been around for 22 years. As such, it is prone to experiencing a few bugs, though rarely.
One such bug is that the Windows environment can lose its internet connection. With the Mac environment still being connected, you'll have to reboot the Windows environment while still in VMware Fusion to fix the issue.
Another common issue with VMware Fusion is that it does not always recognize printers that are connected to the Mac, particularly those set up to connect through WIFI instead of wires. Disk images are also relatively large on the platform. And copying files from the Windows environment to the Mac environment is a little chunky because it doesn't implement a drag-and-drop feature.
These drawbacks are what's stopping the software from reaching the levels set by its competitors, like Parallels Desktop, who are quickly becoming the software of choice for people looking to run the Windows operating system on Mac.
Here is how the two software compare against one another:
Updates and new features
VMware Fusion struggles to keep up with Parallels Desktop's regular cycle of updates and new features. In their latest release, Parallels has more new features than VMware Fusion, given that it's inherited from already existing software.
While you can copy, paste and share files between the environments in VMware Fusion, the process is clunky; and that is as far as the software goes. But for Parallels, you get touch bar controls and the no-disturb mode, which locks all distractions from a specified environment, inclusive of copy, paste, and sharing capabilities.
Parallels Desktop outshines VMware in environment interface customization, allowing users to select different productivity, design, gaming, software development testing virtual machine profiles. You could also make the Windows environment using Coherence Mode or set view mode to picture-in-picture when running virtual machines.
VMware works on the 'all Intel-based Mac' launched later than 2012, with the exception being Macs based on Apple Silicon CPUs. Parallels are compatible with any processor on the market, even for those launched before 2012.
All things considered, VMware Fusion is a great tool for basic and hobbyist applications of virtual machines, but given its young age, it still has a long way to go before becoming the best. Competitors like Parallels Desktop have been around for longer. And this makes them better experienced at integrating Windows environments on a Mac.