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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Virtual Machine with Linked Clones.
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.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.