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Detailed Testing of VMware Fusion 8 vs Parallels 11


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#1 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 11:56 PM

These tests were conducted on Yosemite 10.10.5 as El Capitan hadn't released yet at the time of testing which was recently. The testing was quite comprehensive and the results in short point to Fusion 8 being the better choice for gaming in a Windows virtual machine on OS X. They've really come a long way with this but on the other hand one needs to have reasonable expectations considering the inevitable performance hit the overhead of virtualization brings and the limitations of DirectX version support. Some, maybe all of you already know this stuff is basically ideal for older titles or even newer ones that utilize DirectX 9. Both products do offer DirectX 10 support but performance is nothing to write home about there and as such I don't personally feel it is even worth using versus rebooting on titles that offer it or require it. The difference is large enough I'd want to reboot for that.

All that said, I know I have a large library of titles that do use DirectX 9 and for the most part I have found games that do tend to be compatible with Parallels so I'd expect the same in VMware overall with the odd exception here and there. I like having this option for a lot of games I own that would otherwise require me to reboot back and forth. I have tried quite a lot of games using DirectX 9 and had very good results. Considering their demands on hardware, the overall hit you take with virtualization is not usually relevant I have found but then I have tended to run mostly older releases this way.

So here is the link for anyone interested in this option for gaming or even other purposes which are evaluated here as well:

http://www.tekrevue....11-vs-fusion-8/

By the way this includes testing where possible on VirtualBox but only serves to show it is utterly useless from a gaming perspective and really for a lot of other things too. I'm sure it has its uses and the price is right but it isn't worthy of consideration for me.

I'm going to install the 30 day Fusion 8 free trial soon and expect I'll wind up buying that and abandoning Parallels. Their recent move to a subscription model for the full product gave me very unhappy feelings anyway. Fortunately, it appears that Fusion 8 will import my existing Parallels virtual machines saving me a lot of time.
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#2 Frost

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 12:50 AM

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 01 October 2015 - 11:56 PM, said:

I'm going to install the 30 day Fusion 8 free trial soon and expect I'll wind up buying that and abandoning Parallels. Their recent move to a subscription model for the full product gave me very unhappy feelings anyway. Fortunately, it appears that Fusion 8 will import my existing Parallels virtual machines saving me a lot of time.
This is how I feel too. Stripping functionality out of Parallels and only letting you have it back if you buy it yearly (I mean, uh, "subscribe") is a bunch of frakking bullpopsnizzle and they can go piss up a rope. Next time I'm ready to upgrade Parallels, I'm going to take advantage of VMware Fusion's Parallels customer switch incentive and buy Fusion instead.
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When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.

#3 Janichsan

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Posted 02 October 2015 - 01:51 AM

Interesting. VMware really seem to have stepped up their game. All the previous versions of Fusion performed worse than Parallels, but now the situation seems to be reversed in most regards.

Since I always upgraded Parallels only every other year, the current upgrade would have been one I skipped anyway, so I didn't really bother to inform myself about the differences between the "normal" version and the Pro subscription. Which functionalities have they stripped? Most of the features the Pro version has are things that are new, as far as I can see.

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#4 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 02:10 AM

What, no Virtual PC 1.0 comparison? Useless then!

In other words, pretty cool. Maybe I should try to learn how to use Fusion.
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#5 MichalM.Mac

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 10:35 AM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 04 October 2015 - 02:10 AM, said:

Maybe I should try to learn how to use Fusion.

There is not much to learn. App itself is very straightforward. I've always considered it much more user friendly (OS X like) than Parallels which feel a bit windowsish to me.
Well unless you want to go full command line... then there is much to learn ;-)

#6 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 05 October 2015 - 02:53 PM

I was able to import my Windows 7 and Windows XP Parallels 8 virtual machines into Fusion 8 and they are working great. I really like the UI for Fusion. It's very easy to use and find what you need to. I agree that Fusion has more of a Mac feel to it which I liked using it. I tested a few games in each environment and they ran well. Windows XP wanted to validate itself but I suspect that was because it had formerly been set to use 2 cores and I took the default of 1 core when importing it. Fortunately, internet activation worked without me having to call someone, etc. Windows 7 I had given 2 cores and the default was 2 cores on import I think so I didn't run into a problem there.

Fusion did a good job during first boot of automatically installing the VMware tools and everything pretty much just worked out of the box with minimal fooling around. I'm very happy with it, particularly after testing some games as new as Divinity 2 in Windows 7 which ran very nicely at high settings. One thing that didn't go well for some reason was Unreal 2k4 and Unreal 3 both had issues with sound which was not a problem in Parallels. I tried various means to resolve that to no avail and finally just removed them both from Windows 7. I think I will try them again in XP just to see if they fare better there. I'm pretty sure both work with Wineskin so maybe I'll do that sometime with them if no joy in Fusion for those. Sound otherwise was perfect in everything else I tried. Both Ghost Recon Advanced Warfare games ran nicely on high settings and resolutions. I forget now what I fired up in XP but I ran a couple things there also and things went fine.

So, I'll be forking over the cash for Fusion 8 when my 30 days free time is up. I'm happy with it. I like it better than I did Parallels.
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#7 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 01:45 PM

I wound up resolving the sound issue in some games after it happened another time. It turned out that by removing the sound device and then adding it again (I had to do this twice for some odd reason) Windows noticed the change and installed the appropriate driver resolving the problem. This made me very happy.

I've tried pushing the envelope a little with some titles I thought I might get away with due to their age but they are still too demanding to run in a VM on my system. One of those was Call of Duty Black OPS multiplayer which lagged too much even on lowest settings with FPS jumping all over the place when I tested it in a few bot matches. Oh, well. Stuff like this runs smooth as silk in Windows 10 when I reboot so good enough. I am still getting a lot of mileage out of Fusion 8 with all the stuff that does work very well and will cut down on how often I need to reboot.

Windows 7 decided it did want validation days later after all. This time it failed the internet validate but when I called they have a new thing now where they will send you a text message with a link to a web app designed to display on a phone's screen which allows you to enter all those numbers, etc. and then returns the ones you need back. It was considerably more convenient than the phone talking option. Some time later, the Windows 10 upgrade icon appeared in my task bar. I might make a copy of the VM and see if it lets me get away with that where I already upgrade from that copy of Windows 7 installed in bootcamp. None of this should be a problem considering I own one computer and only run the operating system on it but of course this is Microsoft we are talking about here and they frown on using Windows in a VM while also using Windows natively even on the same computer. They actually want you to purchase a second license to do that. Incredible. Given that Win10 was free one time anyway, who knows what will happen but I may try it. I wanted to access the bootcamp partition with a VM which Fusion supports just as Parallels does but when I did that with Parallels in the past, I ran into the issue of validation being a problem for the VM instance. I'd hate to screw up the install I already have natively via bootcamp is my concern and a visit to the VMware forums was not much help with talk of the machine ID being a problem but no solution mentioned at least for the time being. Meantime, both companies continue to advertise this as a feature while conveniently leaving out the part about Microsoft wanting double payment for the privilege of using it. It's not a big deal but it would be nice if it worked they way it reasonably should.

Anyway, as an added bonus, I can have some fun playing with Linux distributions now too. It's been a fairly long time. I'll probably install Steam for Linux just to see how many of my games are Steamplay for Linux out of curiosity. I enjoy messing with stuff like this just for the fun of it. I'd like to see what KDE looks like nowadays.

Speaking of messing with stuff, it is a good thing I backed up the virtual machines for XP and Win7 once I'd set them up and validated them. I learned the hard way that one should never, ever modify a dll in the system32 folder of Windows 7 and probably not in any other versions either. It's a long story but one game was dying due to a multimedia dll it is not compatible with (Rainbow Six -  the first one) and if you rename that dll, the issue goes away. So, I changed permissions and took ownership away from "TrustedInstaller" and gave it to me. Windows issued some dire warning I forget about now which I ignored. Not smart. Well, they sure fixed me after that. This was really pretty amazing. You'd have to see it to believe it. The system actually became unstable over that one dll being renamed. The mouse started acting up and even though I now had ownership of the dll with full control permissions it would not let me rename it for anything. It also would not let me copy a new one into the folder. Lastly, it would no longer execute system restore either so I could back up. Oh, no! The exe for that threw an error every time. Wow! Man, when I screw something up I do not fool around. No wonder they loved me when I worked in QA. I can break software like nobody's business! I had to delete the machine and copy back my backup to start over again. At least I backup. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

So remember kids, NO RENAMING SYSTEM DLLS! Just delete the offending game and move on! Don't let this happen to you!
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#8 Matt Diamond

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 08:59 AM

Note that VMWare has the ability to host a Bootcamp partition as a VM. (Parallels has this too.)

I currently have Windows Vista, which recent versions of Boot Camp don't support. But I have just inherited a Windows 7 Pro key.  So I'm thinking it's finally time to create myself a Boot Camp partition. When I don't need native performance (e.g. to do taxes, play old games, or apply Windows patches) I can do it under VMWare. For heavy gaming I can boot to Windows.
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#9 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 08:39 PM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 09 October 2015 - 08:59 AM, said:

Note that VMWare has the ability to host a Bootcamp partition as a VM. (Parallels has this too.)

I currently have Windows Vista, which recent versions of Boot Camp don't support. But I have just inherited a Windows 7 Pro key.  So I'm thinking it's finally time to create myself a Boot Camp partition. When I don't need native performance (e.g. to do taxes, play old games, or apply Windows patches) I can do it under VMWare. For heavy gaming I can boot to Windows.

Well, that very scenario is what I was talking about in my above wall of text. The problem with that setup which does work is that Windows thinks it is on two different systems depending on which way you boot. When you access your bootcamp partition via a Fusion or Parallels (I experienced this firsthand with Parallels) that hardware Windows sees is not the same as when you reboot. Therefore, even if you have previously validated your bootcamp install which presumably you'd do right away, it will will prompt you to do so again when accessing it from OS X via a VM setup which is how that works. And you can do that validation again, stating it is running on just one machine which it is but then when you choose to reboot to native Windows with bootcamp, once again after a time Windows will note a hardware change again because it is different than the VM you validated in OS X and so on.

When this happened to me with Parallels 8, I called Microsoft about it. Their response was to inform me that it was required to purchase another license for Windows if I wanted to run it in a virtual machine too. I argued the point about how I felt that was insane where it could only be running on one single system and only one instance could be running at any given time. They were not interested in hearing about that.

That is just one more reason I am not particularly fond of Microsoft but I won't get into that any further here.

This subject is discussed on the Fusion user forums as an issue most recently with Windows 10 which apparently does something different with validation than previous versions according to posters there. Because of that and my inexperience with Fusion, I am unsure if they worked out a fix for validation issues with previous versions of Windows installed with bootcamp and accessed from OS X as well as natively. Perhaps this is an area they bested Parallels for all I know. I'm not really up for messing with it until I see something on the forums from someone working for VMware that states they have fixed the problem.

By the way, when I encountered this issue with Parallels, after calling Microsoft I called them and their response was to concede that they could not be responsible for what Microsoft demands, etc. They also went on to tell me that "it should work." These however are the same people who coded in a dialog box to inform me that Parallels 8 would absolutely not even load virtual machine in Yosemite. But it did and it worked fine too. A fair number of customers found that out as well and posted about their disdain for Parallels as a company after discovering this on the Parallels user forums, myself included.

I hope it works for you with an older version of Windows. That would be handy. My bootcamp partition is setup with Windows 10 and for now there is no way the feature works with VMware Fusion unless I buy a license for Windows 10 and that is not happening.
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#10 Matt Diamond

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 09:34 PM

Thanks for the info.

I don't think the story will be any different with Win7. I was thinking I'd have to upgrade to Win10 anyway (long story.) So I'm not sure which Windows version I'll end up trying it with.

I suspect some people get it working, as its a feature advertised by both Parallels and VMWare. I'll check the VMWare forums for clues. Maybe retail Windows licenses have fewer limits than OEM licenses, for instance. Or Pro vs Home. Maybe the key is to make the VM settings identical to the native machine settings? But I don't see how that's possible; the host OS (i.e. Mac) will reserve some of the memory and CPUs, if nothing else.
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#11 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 12 October 2015 - 08:30 PM

I'll be interested to hear how you make out with that. I hope it winds up working for you or somebody there does have a workaround for the issue. I did not spend a lot of time looking for one so I could have missed that. I was more curious about it when checking there but not willing at the time to devote a lot of effort to it for now.
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#12 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 07:38 AM

FYI here's a thread in the VMWare Fusion community forum about it: https://communities....m/thread/516838

Summary:
  • Consensus is that Windows 7 didn't have this problem as much. It was less stringent, and/or allowed 3 activations. Windows 10 registers itself for very specific hardware, and doesn't allow more than one activation (at least, not when upgraded from earlier versions of Windows.)
  • Encouragingly enough, MS techs acknowledged that this was an issue they were looking at. In other words, they didn't adopt the line that you are required to buy a second license.
  • To confuse the issue a bit, some MS techs seemed to think the real problem was that the activation servers were just very backed up due to the Win10 rollout. And one person last week claimed that they were finally able to activate Windows under both Boot Camp and VMWare.
So there are signs that the problem may eventually get resolved.
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#13 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:18 PM

One more link: VMWare's old notes on the activation process prior to Win 10.
http://kb.vmware.com...ernalId=1003426
You had to activate twice, but it was normally allowed by Microsoft servers. When it wasn't you could often get it fixed by talking to a human. (I recall doing this once.)

The problem with Win 10 is that neither the servers nor the humans could fix it, according to the forum thread. Finger's crossed, it'll get worked out.
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#14 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:38 PM

That sounds good. As I mentioned, I had a bad experience talking to a MS person about activation where they informed me I needed to buy another license for a virtual machine. That was a fairly long time ago though. It was Windows 7 but that was one individual I spoke to and they could have been wrong. It certainly would not be the first time a support person has misinformed me over the years.

I read an article yesterday in Computer World that Microsoft has implemented a change to activation of Windows 10 that is rolling out to the early adopters ring whichever one that is. I forget what they are calling them now. This change is expected to roll out to the consumer version by year's end barring unforseen problems I guess. Basically, it will now allow you to activate with a serial number so you can do a clean install without having to update on top of a Windows 7 or 8 or 8.1 install. I'm not sure how that might affect the underlying way in which it works so far as checking machine id, etc. but maybe this will help with the validation issues with virtual machines depending on how they have modified it. I did get the impression it is still a single activation for a single input license but I find the way they are doing things now to be confusing anyway.
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#15 Frost

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 05:26 PM

View PostFrost, on 02 October 2015 - 12:50 AM, said:

This is how I feel too. Stripping functionality out of Parallels and only letting you have it back if you buy it yearly (I mean, uh, "subscribe") is a bunch of frakking bullpopsnizzle and they can go piss up a rope. Next time I'm ready to upgrade Parallels, I'm going to take advantage of VMware Fusion's Parallels customer switch incentive and buy Fusion instead.

So I delayed by like 5 months, but I finally took advantage of that discount last week and got Fusion 8. I've been trying it for the past few days...

Fusion may have been behind Parallels in the past, but it popsnizzles all over Parallels now. For everything but gaming, I can't tell the difference between a native Windows boot and running my Boot Camp partition in Fusion if a three finger swipe on my MBP's trackpad didn't take me back to OSX while using Windows from Fusion 8. It's that fast. It even supports graphics switching, making it superior to booting into Windows while unplugged since Windows won't do that on my 2012 MBP without me hacking it. Thus running OSX and Windows simultaneously gives me better battery life than Windows alone.

The passthrough to the 650M that Fusion supports is so efficient I can even play games via Fusion 8 and there is just a very small performance hit versus a serious one, at least in the handful of games I played.

If you have an old Parallels key lying around (I used my Parallels 9 key and that worked), Fusion 8 with the 40% discount was MONEY WELL SPENT. Good bye forever, Parallels. Pay a popsnizzlety subscription fee for worse performance? Not this man.
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Eric5h5:
When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.

#16 Matt Diamond

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 06:20 PM

I've always liked Fusion, but it's been a while since I tried to play anything on it. What were the games you tried, may I ask?
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#17 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 01:10 PM

I use fusion on my MBP for work quite often and love it. Unfortuneately the program as been end of life'd, as VMware has laid off all of the staff responsible for it.

Looks like it Parallels from here on out.
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#18 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 06:00 PM

At the time those cuts happened I read that VMware actually handed off Fusion to a very small team elsewhere (outsourced perhaps) and made a statement that they had no current plans to discontinue the product. It certainly was not welcome news but unless they have made some announcement to the contrary since, they apparently are not ready yet to ditch Fusion and maybe they won't. Then again, the future doesn't look very bright admittedly considering the changes they made.

I was ready to pull the trigger on a purchase right when that happened and decided to hold off. Ultimately, I stuck Windows 10 back on my system for the time being and did enjoy playing one game there which was Dungeon Siege of all things that would have benefited from running in XP I thought where newer Windows versions pop a dialog warning of incompatibility with that game. Fortunately a deluxe patch from someone on the Steam forums worked wonders in a variety of ways and it played great. I haven't played anything there since for lack of time.
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#19 Frost

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 07:03 PM

Ugh, please. I just got on the Fusion train and I'm still loving it. I don't think I can do the barren wasteland of either paying Parallels a subscription fee or dealing with gimped software. I'll just deal with the hassle of rebooting into Windows if it comes down to it.
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Iridium (MacBook Pro Mid-2012) – 2.7 GHz i7 3820QM / 16GB RAM / 2TB Samsung 850 Pro / GeForce GT 650M 1GB

Eric5h5:
When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.

#20 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 08:28 PM

Well, with a little luck they'll keep it going and also OS X upgrades won't necessarily screw it up either. You may get a lot of mileage out of it even if they stop supporting it.
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