VMware has updated two of their least expensive virtualization products, announcing this morning that VMware Fusion 4 and VMware Workstation 8 are now shipping and available for purchase.
VMware Fusion 4 is the latest version of VMware's virtualization product for the Mac, and boasts a long list of new features. "VMware Fusion is the best way to run Windows on a Mac, and Fusion 4 is the best version yet," Pat Lee, VMware's Director of Client Project Management, told me in a phone interview yesterday. "[Fusion 4] is really targeted at Windows users who are switching to the Mac."
Fusion 4 includes an enhanced migration assistant for Windows users to facilitate that switching process. The product also includes improved support for OS X Lion, and can now run OS X Lion in a virtual machine, which gives Mac power users and administrator more flexibility when running Mac OS variants in virtual machines. For example, a user could now run Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server, Mac OS X Leopard Server, OS X Lion, and OS X Lion Server in separate VMs.
Improved support for 3D graphics hardware and multi-core processors enhances graphic performance, and Lee told me that Fusion 4 was developed as a 64-bit Cocoa application, and that improved 3D performance should translate into better user experiences for high-end 3D Windows programs like CAD software and recent Windows game releases. Running modern Windows 3D games in a virtual machine has historically been a laggy, frustrating experience, so we'll reserve judgment until we've had the chance to test Fusion 4 ourselves.
Lee said that VMware will be running a sales promotion for VMware Fusion 4 until the end of the year. Fusion is normally priced at $79.99, but Lee said that VMware will be selling Fusion 4 for a $30 discount (to $49.99) until the end of the year. VMware Fusion 3 users can also upgrade to Fusion 4 free of charge if they purchased Fusion 3 between July 20th and September 30th of this year.
While Fusion has historically targeted the Mac consumer market, VMware Workstation has enjoyed most of its sales success in the enterprise. VMware Workstation 8 features more than four dozen new features, with Lee adding that most of the new enhancements are designed to make it easier for administrators to work with virtual machines and the cloud.
A new upload to vSphere option allows admins to easily copy VMs from Workstation to vSphere, while a new VM sharing feature lets users provide access to specific VMs when a multiple users need to access the same environment. Like Fusion 4, Workstation 8 also features an enhanced user interface and enhanced 3D graphics performance. New support for USB 3, Bluetooth devices, HD audio and other improvements to Workstation's hardware support should also make the product more usable in a wider array of hardware environments. A remote connections feature also allows admins to create connections to hosts running within vCenter, vSphere, and Workstation. Workstation 8 also includes support for a wide array of OSes, including most varieties of Windows Server, Windows, Ubuntu, SUSE Linux, and a wide array of other Linux distributions.
VMware Workstation is priced at $199.99, and VMware also provides discounts for purchases of 10 or more licenses at once. For more information about VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation 8, you can visit the new Fusion 4 and Workstation 8 product pages. We'll be taking a more detailed look at both products in the near future, so look for product reviews soon.