VMware Fusion 6 Professional ($129.99 full version/ $69.99 upgrade) brings some enterprise virtualization
features to enterprise Mac users that can help further negate issues around
corporate and Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC) Macs coexisting with Windows PCs inside
the corporate enterprise. When I made the jump to freelance
writing last fall, one of the hidden benefits was that I started to use Macs
full time. However, I still come across situations where I need to use
Windows for a project, and I see more virtual machine use cases cropping up all
the time.

The good folks at VMware set me up with an evaluation copy
of VMware Fusion 6 Professional. I chose to install it on my MacBook Air (circa
2012), since I wanted to install Windows 8.1 from an .ISO file.

Windows 8.1 and Mavericks ready

VMware is counting on rapid adoption of Windows 8.1 and
Mavericks in the enterprise and has positioned VMware Fusion 6 Professional
with the following features:

  • Support for Windows 8.1 Home, Professional, and
    Enterprise in a virtual machine
  • Support for Windows Server 2012 R2 in a virtual
    machine
  • Run Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 from a Boot Camp
    partition included on 2013 Macs
  • Use Windows on an HDTV with AirPlay support and
    OS X Mavericks, which could be an interesting option for those with HDTV equipped
    conference rooms
  • Dictation support for Windows applications that
    require it, which makes this version of VMware Fusion attractive to those enterprises
    with assistive technologies for their user community
  • Improves support for Windows Store applications
  • Revamped full-screen support for OS X Mavericks
    and multiple displays (it also includes support for OS X Mountain Lion and
    Lion)

Figure A shows an example of Windows Store apps running in
the Dock.

Figure A 

Windows Store apps in the Dock.

The minimum system requirements for installing and using
VMware Fusion 6 are:

  • Any 64-bit capable Intel Mac (compatible with
    Core 2 Duo, Xeon, i3, i5, i7 processors)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 750 MB free disk space for VMware Fusion and at
    least 5 GB for each virtual machine
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or later (OS X 10.7. 5 or later
    recommended)
  • Operating system installation media (disk or
    disk image) for virtual machines

Installation and setup

Installing VMware Fusion 6 Professional is quick and easy
enough for a novice Mac user to follow. The process feels even more refined
from previous VMware Fusion versions. Figure B shows the Create a New Virtual
Machine dialog box.

Figure B 

Create a New Virtual Machine.

Installing Windows 8.1 Preview as a virtual machine went off
without a hitch. Figure C shows Windows 8.1 open in a virtual machine.

Figure C

Testing Windows 8.1 using VMware Fusion 6 Professional.

New enterprise features

Enterprise use cases for virtualization are steadily on the
increase, and VMware Fusion 6 Professional should help administrators make
further use of virtual machines to support their Mac users.

Restricted virtual machines

The new enhanced restricted virtual machines feature in
Fusion 6 Professional enables administrators to set more customizable
restrictions over the virtual machines they deploy to corporate Macs. The big
restriction that comes to mind for me is blocking USB drives, which is a security requirement
in more regulated environments.

Expiring virtual machines

The concept of the expiring virtual machine is tailor-made
for today’s mixed workforce. When a
project team might include employees, contractors, freelancers, and partners,
it opens up new dimensions over desktop security. VMware Fusion 6 Professional
enables IT administrators to create expiring virtual machines.

This feature also opens up the potential of creating demos
and proof of concepts that you can release to customers or beta testers that
expire on a preset date. Figure D shows the setup for expiring virtual machines.

Figure D

Expiring virtual machines.

Single Virtual Machine Mode 

Depending on your end user community, you may want to
prevent them from creating VMs or accessing specific application features. It
sounds a bit draconian, but you could find uses for single Virtual Machine Mode
if you have temporary employees or need a PC running in a public area.

Linked clones

VMware Fusion 6 Professional enables you to create linked
clones to create multiple virtual machine copies without duplicating the entire
contents of the original disk. Creating a Linked Clone is as simple as shutting
down the virtual machine you want to clone, selecting Create Linked Clone from
the Virtualization Menu, and saving the linked clone as another virtual machine.

I see this Linked Clones feature making development and test
environment creation much easier for a project that requires multiple servers, because Linked Clones only store the common OS components once. It could also find a home with users who do a lot of
software testing and debugging, because you can create a Linked Clone for each
test case that can be run independently on the virtual machine in VMware Fusion 6 Professional.

Figure E 

Virtual Machine with Linked Clones.

Conclusion

VMware Fusion 6 Professional is the most enterprise-capable
version of VMware Fusion to date.  It also
has a great user experience, making it an ideal choice for enterprises that don’t
have much experience with virtualization or Macs. Does your organization have its sights set on VMware Fusion 6 Professional? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.