Being a Windows user on a Mac I have always been faced with the challenge of how to access my documents and applications. Either I choose BootCamp and get pure speed but get hit with needing to dedicate a chunk of hard disc space and the time to boot between Mac OSX and Windows, or use a Virtual Machine. My choice was made for me when I invested in a shiny new MacBook Air about a month ago. With only 256GB of solid state memory, I didn’t have enough practical space to have a dedicated Windows Partition – Installing WEC7 tools and build environment can push Windows to 120+ GB. I choose the i7 version so I had enough uummph to power a VM so my path was clear, which was less clear was which tool, Parallels, VirtualBox or VMWare Fusion.
When I bought my Mac Lion had just been released and Parallels was on version 6 and VMWare was version 3.1
I enjoyed using VirtualBox for Windows and Linux as it was free, and provided great support for Linux guests, but I always found it slow when Mac was the host. Parallels shortly after released version 7 which targeted Mac OSX Lion and so the race was on. Parallels has some nice features to get Windows and Mac working together and boasted the fact that 3D graphics were faster – 2 things I wasn’t really fussy about. Parallels always let me down on reliability, even when I tried out the trail version of Parallels 7 available from their website, it would frequently crash or hang, something which isn’t nice on a development machine. Even uninstalling it was a pain and didn’t delete all user preferences even when the option was selected.
VMWare was the choice, but there were problems running VMWare Fusion 3.1 on Lion – memory leaks and reduced performance were the two I noticed. But finally version 4 was released and I could rest easy.
Along came faster performance, better reliability, bug fixes, graphical updates and better support for Lion. I bought and installed it and everything was good.
Once all my VM’s were converted, I already began to see the benefits, lower CPU utilisation, faster boot times and better memory consumption. I was ready for the next bit of fun. Windows 8 Developer Preview.
I downloaded the ISO image from the Windows Developer website, all 4.8GB of it for the x64 version with Developer Tools and installed it as a VM under VMWare Fusion 4.
Installation was shockingly fast, took my MacBook Air around 5 minutes, being thankful for the SSD & i7 contained within. VMWare used Windows 7 x64 as a base. I took a snapshot and attempted to install VMWare Tools, which broke the VM. Which is understandable as it isn’t a supported OS. I rolled back and began to enjoy and look at the ‘future’