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VMware Fusion First Impressions

I installed VMware Fusion earlier today and immediately set out to install Windows XP Professional. Despite the fact that once I switched to Mac OS X I haven’t ever really looked back, I still have the rare occasion when I need to run some Windows application (usually Visio). So, it made sense to me to install Windows first, then to move on to more exotic subjects such as Solaris or OpenBSD.

I had a fully functional installation of Windows XP Professional up and running in less than 15 minutes. (I kid you not.) The installation was faster than any physical/non-virtual installation I’d performed. I was astounded. While Windows XP was installing, I flipped over and surfed the web, checked e-mail, helped my wife with some font designs, and checked my RSS subscriptions—all without any noticeable performance impact. (In fact, the Windows XP virtual machine is still running right now as I post this blog entry.)

Sure, the product has a few gotchas (it is still in beta, after all), but it still looks and feels pretty polished. I’m excited to see how the performance will improve, as the current build has logging and debugging turned on and won’t let you turn it off. As VMware continues to fine-tune this product and add features, performance, and stability, it is going to rock.

My quibbles with the product thus far? Very minor. I’d love to see the VMware Tools installation offer the option to run some type of custom resolution or a wide-screen resolution in the VM; even with my new MacBook Pro’s higher resolution of 1440x900, it is still difficult to run a VM at a resolution of 1024x768. Also, there is a known issue in this build that makes working with ISO images more difficult than it should be; I fully expect that will be addressed in future builds. For now, it’s more of an inconvenience than anything else.

Next week at VMworld 2006, I hope to be able to attend one of the VMware Fusion-oriented breakout sessions and gain some more insight into the product’s development, future plans, features, etc. (I can’t tell you how excited I am about VMworld. I’m very much looking forward to this conference. Los Angeles, here I come!)

Note to VMware developers/employees/beta team members who may be reading this: How about development of some sort of Mac-native VMware console solution? (Using the existing Windows-based VI client inside a Windows VM on a Mac host does not count.)

UPDATE: I’m not the only one blogging about VMware Fusion; see Richard Garsthagen mentions it briefly here, and Bob Roudebush discusses his experiences with VMware Fusion in great detail on his blog. Good stuff!

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