Yet another whisper lost.

Parallels Desktop 5 vs. VMWare Fusion 3

So Parallels Desktop 5 is out!  About a week after VMWare Fusion 3.

Both are awesome, but I guess it depends on what you’re doing that determines which one you want to buy.  Here are some viewpoints and yeah.  Don’t take me on my word, both offer trials, but this is just from my experience.


If you’re developing, I say go with VMWare Fusion 3.  VMWare Fusion 3 feels more stable and crashes less on me.  Parallels is pretty stable, but I run into a few quirks every once in a while (mainly with how the windows move or programs closing without notice).

VMWare Fusion also offers some cooler integration features (in my opinion). Both show the windows notification area, but VMWare introduces an application menu as well (which works on Linux as well, at least Ubuntu).  Parallels shows the start menu if you click on the icon in Mac’s Dock (while in Unity), but it shows the Windows start menu, not feeling very Mac-like.  Okay, okay… that’s not really development related, but when I’m testing stuff, I like feeling some connection between everything.

As for speed, Parallels does feel faster, and it does perform some tasks faster, but it’s not as stable.  I’ve had Visual Studio crash a couple of times so far while it’s pretty stable in VMWare Fusion.


Not that I do much gaming.  Parallels wins.  That sums it up.  Sure VMWare has made tons of improvements, but it’s not as good as Parallel’s.  I’ll post a video running some stuff in Parallels, then running in VMWare.  I play some simple games, like The Secret of Monkey Island, and there’s a difference.

So if you’re gaming, then I suggest using Parallels.  Some of the bigger games will die or slow down (in both Parallel’s Desktop 5 and VMWare Fusion 3), but the games that do run tend to run better in Parallels.

Office & Productivity

I say go with either.  Parallels is less stable with some applications, but for general office and productivity applications, it ran well.  VMWare runs fine too.

If you’re buying it to run general Windows apps under Mac OS X, then pick either.  If you want to watch some wmv’s under it, pick either.

Linux Support

Go with VirtualBox.  It provides a really awesome Linux experience…  The only issue is it doesn’t integrate with Exposè or the Dock.  It does do OpenGL and DirectX (for Windows) though (I think).

If you don’t want to use VirtualBox (because you’re running multiple VM’s at once, or just want to spend some money), I say go with VMWare Fusion 3.  In my opinion, the features offered by VMWare beat Parallels making the Linux experience better.  It’s mainly just how they handle the “Unity” or “Coherence” modes.

Other Points

  • When switching to Unity or Coherence, VMWare Fusion 3 is faster (at least for me).
    • VMWare has better integration with the Dock.  Applications minimize to their place in the Dock (so I.E. minimizes into the I.E. icon).  Parallels doesn’t do this.
    • Parallels has better integration with Exposè.  Overlapping windows aren’t drawn overlapping in Exposè.
    • For dragging windows, Parallels looks a lot nicer.  I tend to get a trailing effect with VMWare Fusion.
  • For running and starting applications, Parallels Desktop 5 is faster (for things like Firefox, Internet Explorer and whatnot).
  • In terms of stability, VMWare is better.
    • Applications tend to crash less.
  • Feature wise
    • Windows Support: I think Parallels is slightly better at running Windows.
    • Integration with Mac OS X: VMWare Fusion wins in number of features and usefulness, Parallels wins in quality of features (definitely looks nicer).

Buying Advice

Like I said, it depends on what you’re using it for.  I feel safer with VMWare Fusion 3.  It feels more stable, but it is also somewhat sluggish.  If you’re developing, or just looking to run simple Windows apps, VMWare Fusion is good.

For gaming, I like Parallels better.  It’s faster, and the graphics seem smoother.  It also support OpenGL 2 on all versions of Windows, unlike VMWare which only support OpenGL 2 on Windows XP (or is it the other way around?).

Hope this helps you.  Don’t blame me if you spend but don’t like, there’s a free trial for both.