Parallels Desktop Vs. VMWare Fusion: Which Is Better? [UPDATED]

Full Disclosure: I run Parallels Desktop for my virtual computing needs.

I often get asked which Macintosh virtual computing product is better. Is it Parallels Desktop or is it VMWare Fusion? I’ve tried both and the best thing I can say is that it depends on why you need to run it.

To recap, what virtual computing products do is they allow you to run Windows (and other operating systems like LINUX) on an Intel-based Macintosh without having to choose an OS at startup. You can run Windows in a window on the Mac desktop, in full-screen mode, or in a free-floating configuration in which Windows applications are detached from the Windows desktop.

My observations are as follows:

  • Installing Windows is a breeze with both products. You can run a wizard which basically allows you to do a quick and easy install of Windows in an unattended manner.
  • If you need speed, choose VMWare Fusion. It’s way faster than Parallels. It also seems to be a bit less resource intensive than Parallels. An important factor if you run a MacBook or MacBook Pro on a battery.
  • If you need USB support, choose Parallels. I find that more USB devices work under Parallels than under VMWare, which is important for me.
  • If you need to run Windows Vista, choose Parallels. The Vista support is better in Parallels as it seems to run faster than under VMWare Fusion.
  • VMWare Fusion works with other VMWare products which are used in enterprise environments. So if you use VMWare Workstation example, you can import virtual machines from those products and use those in VMWare Fusion (or vice versa).
  • Neither product wins on the tech support front. Both products require you to pay for phone support if you have to phone them. Also, I tried to submit a bug to VMWare regarding Fusion’s support of USB devices and never heard back from them. Not great customer service IMHO. Parallels has a bad reputation in terms of it’s support in the Mac world (check this Google search for examples). But they do have a support forum that offers user to user support as well as a limited amount of support from Parallels staff. Questions that I’ve posted there have tended to be answered by either Parallels staff or by other users quickly. Your mileage may vary. One thing that I will say is that the first company to improve their tech support and get the word out there that they have superior tech support may be able to steal this market.

So, hopefully this can help you to make an informed decision about which virtual computing product to choose. One thing to point out is that there are free trials available of for both products so that you can test both out and see which fits your needs better.

UPDATE: Parallels Desktop 4 has shipped. Read my review of it here.

One Response to “Parallels Desktop Vs. VMWare Fusion: Which Is Better? [UPDATED]”

  1. Definitely VMware Fusion.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: