VMware Fusion 7 proves Yosemite-ready

VMware has updated Fusion, the desktop virtualization software many use to run Windows on Macs. Fusion 7 boasts a new Yosemite look and feel, plus it packs several other improvements.

Fusion 7

As an IT consultant, the trust my consulting office places in VMware has been rewarded with reliable operation and dependable performance. Fusion 7 continues the tradition.

Possessing an updated look and feel that matches Apple's OS X Yosemite release, the updated virtualization software features a cleaner Dock icon, window translucency, and even a simplified toolbar. While Yosemite also improved Spotlight, bringing the integrated search engine front and center within the new release, another benefit is that virtual machine (VM) information is now available within Spotlight searches, too.

Incidentally, Fusion can be used for running more than just Windows. Users can load another OS X install, if needed. Fusion 7 also enables running OS X Yosemite server within OS X Yosemite. I'll pause a moment while you wrap your head around that capability, as it could prove to be helpful, particularly for small businesses.

One historic VM complaint is slow performance, but that experience is improving. VMware claims Fusion 7 runs Windows and Mac applications with near-native performance. What's that mean? VMware is suggesting the VM-powered apps run almost as fast as when they're run natively outside a VM environment.

Certainly, my Windows 8.1 Professional VM loads and runs faster in Fusion 7 than in previous versions. VMware credits its optimized 64-bit engine and multicore Haswell-CPU processing efficiencies as responsible for up to a 43% improvement for some activities.

Fusion 7 also boasts scalability. The virtualization software supports creating VMs with up to 16 virtual CPUs, 8 TB virtual disks, and 64 GB of RAM. Those are heady numbers, of course.

The software can dedicate up to 2 GB of video memory to a VM. The allocation helps a VM deliver better 3D and OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 9.0c graphics performance. For businesses, that means demanding graphics apps, such as drafting programs, will run better within the corresponding virtual environment.

Fusion 7 VMs simply look better, too. VMware improved Fusion's own graphic look. Fusion 7 is optimized to work with Apple's celebrated Retina displays. Other Fusion 7 improvements include USB 3.0 support, AirPlay compatibility, and more efficient power usage -- a feature that lowers energy consumption and extends battery life.

If you're new to VMware, and if you haven't worked with VMs before, you'll find Fusion simplifies the process of loading another operating system on a Mac. VMware also updated its Fusion Learning Center, where users can view videos and access clear, step-by-step instructions for performing common VMware tasks. For $69.99 (USD), VMware has built a compelling package with Fusion 7.

Will your organization invest in Fusion 7? Why or why not? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...