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Parallels Desktop For Mac Vs. VMware 195

Posted by timothy
from the when-it-positively-has-to-run-windows dept.
neilticktin writes "MacTech performed an exhaustive set of benchmarks comparing Parallels Desktop 4 to VMWare Fusion 2 to run Windows on a Mac. To tackle this problem, MacTech undertook a huge benchmarking project starting in December — over 2500 tests by stopwatch. The goal was to see how the recent versions of VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop performed on different levels of Mac hardware, using XP, Vista, 64-bit, multi-procs, games, etc. ... As usual, results vary by what's important to you."
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Parallels Desktop For Mac Vs. VMware

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  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:40PM (#27068933) Homepage Journal

    Slashdotted already? Bummer. I have a feeling I know what the conclusion page says... "Do NOT host a web server with IIS on a Macbook running Windows in VMware Fusion"

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@smoking c u be.be> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:42PM (#27068963) Homepage

    Well, apparently they shouldn't run their server in virtualization software.

    Either way, I like Parallels better because it's so much better integrated (albeit more expensive) and easier to use. It also has better support for DirectX and OpenGL than VMWare which is something I needed (OpenGL).

    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:47PM (#27069007) Homepage Journal

      Personally, I prefer VirtualBox [virtualbox.org]. It has all the features you expect of a professional VM (rootless desktop, 3D acceleration, drive passthrough, etc.) but is available for the low-low price of $0.

      The situation looks a bit different if you're going to use it for business purposes, but for home use there is no better option than VirtualBox.

      • Does VirtualBox allow you to run your BootCamp partition in a virtual machine? Last time I check it didn't. Otherwise, it is a fine product.

        I must the admit that the number of times I actually boot into windows has diminished drastically (As well as using windows period), but it is nice to be able to have Windows run natively when you have to play a Windows only game and still be able to bring it up on within a virtual machine when you need to use Windows to run some old piece of software.

        • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @05:25PM (#27069455) Homepage Journal

          Does VirtualBox allow you to run your BootCamp partition in a virtual machine? Last time I check it didn't.

          As far as I know, this has not changed. However, it is possible to extract the Bootcamp partition into a VDMK which VirtualBox can read. I've never done it before, so try it at your own risk.

          I must the admit that the number of times I actually boot into windows has diminished drastically

          What's this "windows" you speak of? I use VirtualBox for alternative operating systems! :-P

          Actually, I did setup one Windows 7 VM so my wife could use an educational CD she needs. Other than that, I haven't found a lot of reason to use Windows on my Mac. I imagine I would have a few more if I didn't have an older Windows XP desktop hanging around, but even that tends to run cross-platform software. (Even Microsoft Office has been successfully replaced with OpenOffice!)

          All told, the age of Windows lock-in is fading rapidly. Just about all native software these days either has a Mac version or a good Mac alternative available. Interestingly, FireFox shows markedly better graphics performance on the Mac over the PC. I haven't figured that one out yet. :-/

      • Virtual Box rocks, cross platform and I swear it is faster running Windows on my home box versus the ESX server I run stuff on at work.
        • Virtual Box rocks, cross platform and I swear it is faster running Windows on my home box versus the ESX server I run stuff on at work.

          I was leaning towards using Virtualbox if I install Ubuntu on my Mac. However I'm not clear whether it can run another OS installed on a dualboot computer in a VM. If not then I'll need either VMWare or Parallels as they can both do that.

          Falcon

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SoVeryTired (967875)

        Virtualbox is very nice, but it really needs to improve the "snapshot" backup functionality. It's a bit unintuitive: I've read numerous posts by people who lost backups by irreversibly deleting snapshots by accident. The GUI gives no warning when you choose to perform some irreversible action like discarding a snapshot.

          Backups really need to improve in VB before it becomes competetive with VMware.

      • When I setup my Mac to dualboot as I'm leaning towards it I may use VirtualBox [virtualbox.org] myself. It would have been nice if Mactech had included it.

        Falcon

      • by adisakp (705706)
        My main complaint with VirtualBox is how weak and confusing the Virtual Box snapshop manager [blogspot.com] is compared to VMWare. VMware is just light-years ahead here. VirtualBox completely fails if you need to do multiple "what-if" situations with installing software or do non-destructive reverts or branched snapshots.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:43PM (#27068973)

    Both products fail miserably at running anything older than XP. VMWare still wins here, since at least it manages to install and run 98SE successfully, while Parallels install suffers from endless crashes. But even a trivial DX game like "Lose your marbles" results in a blank screen, while it works perfectly fine in VPC for Mac on 5 year old hardware. There are many older applications and games that do not run on XP. Just how hard would it be to emulate an S3 video card and SB16 so that we can run whatever we fill like in the VM?

    • by fm6 (162816)

      . Just how hard would it be to emulate an S3 video card and SB16 so that we can run whatever we fill like in the VM?

      Well, DOSBox [dosbox.com] does a decent job. But that's a self-supported donationware project. To include that sort of functionality in a commercial product, you have to hire people not only to do the development and tweaking, but to support customers who use the feature. Just not worth it for companies like Parallels and VMware to go to all that trouble for a few customers that want to play abandonware games.

      • by iamacat (583406)

        Well, how about abandon-ware business applications?

        I simply don't think VMWare and Parallels have thought this through. Most home MacOSX users who want windows emulation and are savvy enough to set it up have been using computers for at least a decade. Its highly likely that they have a favorite game or app that would influence them to choose the product that supports it. On the other hand, businesses are notorious for not upgrading even apps written when MS-DOS just came out.

        It would be much easier to have

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Well, how about abandon-ware business applications?

          Yeah, that's a huge market. And it's full of customers with deep pockets!

          I simply don't think VMWare and Parallels have thought this through.

          Uh, have you ever worked for a company that actually makes and sells software? I have, and support costs are big factor in all our business decisions. Trust me, we think these things through. Our jobs depend on it!

          Most home MacOSX users who want windows emulation and are savvy enough to set it up have been using computers for at least a decade. Its highly likely that they have a favorite game or app that would influence them to choose the product that supports it.

          If they don't need support, why spend money on Parallels or VMware? DOSBox and xVM VirtualBox are free.

          It would be much easier to have a general purpose product that can be used with any OS of user's choice than to try to quantify every possible use case.

          Yeah, because coping with the quirks of 16-bit Windows is so easy...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jeremi (14640)

            Yeah, that's a huge market. And it's full of customers with deep pockets!

            What makes you so sure it's not? I bet it's pretty common for a company to have an in-house app that was custom-written for them back in the day, which works fine for them. Ten years later, they still want to run that app, but they can no longer easily find hardware that supports the OS the app was written for. So now their choice is either re-write the app from scratch (an expensive and risky project; the people who wrote the origi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:47PM (#27069005)

    VMware states that you can not post benchmarks. This is why there are no benchmarks out there comparing it.

    Prepare to have your page deactivated.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:09PM (#27070185)

      From Fusion EULA:

      You may use the Software to conduct internal performance testing and benchmarking studies, the results of which you (and not unauthorized third parties) may publish or publicly disseminate; provided that VMware has reviewed and approved of the methodology, assumptions and other parameters of the study. Please contact VMware at benchmark@vmware.com to request such review.

    • by ganhawk (703420) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:11PM (#27070211)

      Wrong! VMware only wants to review the methodology and approve it. You do not have to get the results approved.

      From register.vmware.com/content/eula.html

      "you (and not unauthorized third parties) may publish or publicly disseminate; provided that VMware has reviewed and approved of the methodology, assumptions and other parameters of the study. Please contact VMware at benchmark@vmware.com to request such review."

      • Exactly. Basically if the #s are horrible they want to be able to look at them and say "you're an idiot for not clicking the little box for hardware acceleration before running your benchmark."

      • by lubricated (49106)

        sounds just as bad

      • "you (and not unauthorized third parties) may publish or publicly disseminate; provided that VMware has reviewed and approved of the methodology, assumptions and other parameters of the study. Please contact VMware at benchmark@vmware.com to request such review."

        Would posting: "We did benchmarks tests and found that VMWare performance sucks - though we can't post them, so we may be lying" be okay ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sentry21 (8183)

      Interesting, I didn't know that VMWare was one of those companies that was afraid to have their product compared to those of others. Do they have something to hide?

      I wasn't a VMWare user already, but hearing this kind of thing, if true, makes me even less inclined to try their product. If they're going to tell me I can't talk about a product I've paid for, well, I'm not going to pay for it.

  • Sun virtualbox (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MacColossus (932054) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:50PM (#27069031) Journal
    I have tested all three of these products. I like Sun Virtualbox not just for price (free) but for performance.
    • Also, a big chunk of Virtualbox code is free (as in freedom) that's anything thing to appreciate.

    • Re:Sun virtualbox (Score:4, Interesting)

      by QAChaos (793637) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @05:12PM (#27069287) Homepage Journal
      i also have always liked virtual box - i was surprised at a mac store one time - a customer asked if vmware or parallels was better and the sales person actually suggested that they try virtual box.
      • by Ilgaz (86384)

        A guy with integrity and experience would see what customer actually wants and his profile. If guy is only interested in couple of devices having only windows support and basic (non 3d) gaming or office? Sun Virtualbox.

        The Parallels and VMWare guys support way more advanced uses.

    • I have tested all three of these products. I like Sun Virtualbox not just for price (free) but for performance.

      But Virtualbox doesn't work with another OS already installed on a multiboot computer. I may install Ubuntu on my Mac and if so then I'll also want to setup VMs to run Ubuntu when I bootup Leopard, and Leopard when I bootup Ubuntu.

      Falcon

  • When people by a Mac and then run Windows on it.

    I always laugh. Like now.
    • by MacColossus (932054) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:59PM (#27069161) Journal
      When I am forced to run Windows because are DBA isn't willing to use something cross platform for trouble ticket system it sucks. I get to devote large portions of drive space for MS Access. Web based (postgre or mysql anyone) or Filemaker Pro would be nice. When mac users have to run Windows, it is usually do to the fanboyish attitude of some Windows user.
    • by IANAAC (692242) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @05:21PM (#27069403)
      I can't speak for Mac use, but I've used Linux pretty much full time for the last few years. I am a freelance translator, and have, for the most part, been able to function fine without any Microsoft products. There is one program that is fairly industry-standard though: Trados. It only runs on Windows. There *ARE* viable alternatives, however, agencies insist on assigning/receiving projects in that format.

      It sucks that I am sometimes forced to use it, but I lose a sale if I don't.

      That's my reasoning for needing a Windows instance, and I bet my situation is not that uncommon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malc (1751)

      I just wish I could get OS X Leopard running in VMWare PLayer on XP. I installed OS X Server 10.5 using VMWare Fusion, and got it booting under VMWare Player, but it's running in to problems before logon (looping with mds and ATSServer crashing). Would much rather have the desktop OS working though as we develop cross platform software for Mac and Windows, but we're a Windows shop first and foremost. I just need somewhere to compile, debug and unit test the Mac code, and don't currently have budget for a

      • ...we develop cross platform software for Mac and Windows... ...and don't currently have budget for a Mac to do this with using BootCamp.

        You have multiple employee but can't afford $500 for a last generation Mac-mini? Sounds like whoever is allocating your budget is an idiot.

        • by Malc (1751)

          Actually, that's just least of the issues, and probably shouldn't have mentioned it. I have perfectly good Dell M6300, why would I want another machine? Especially as the Mac stuff is only part-time for me. I do Blu-ray work, and that machine has a built-in BD drive, and is more suited to playing back HD movies with BD-J applications. Using a Mac would require hauling around a BD drive in an enclosure (which I used to do a couple of years ago, and that was a pain). Also, BootCamp partitions are 32GB, a

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I have perfectly good Dell M6300, why would I want another machine?

            So you can legally run OS X and do your dev work, was my assumption.

            Also, BootCamp partitions are 32GB...

            I don't use Bootcamp, but I thought 32Gb was the maximum size for old versions of Windows XP to install on a FAT partition. As far as I know, bootcamp partitions can be any size you want and can fit a Windows install in.

            Finally, I'm on the road a lot (I currently don't even have an apartment back home) and am already hauling around three laptops...

            I hauled around multiple laptops and messed with dual booting for a while. Now I just carry a MacBook and run Windows, Linux, and Solaris in VMs on top of OS X. Saves me a lot of hassle and migrating them all to a new system

            • by Malc (1751)

              I have perfectly good Dell M6300, why would I want another machine?

              So you can legally run OS X and do your dev work, was my assumption.

              Well, I have access to OS install DVD through an ADC subscription. Perhaps running under VMWare is another issue though.

              Also, BootCamp partitions are 32GB...

              I don't use Bootcamp, but I thought 32Gb was the maximum size for old versions of Windows XP to install on a FAT partition. As far as I know, bootcamp partitions can be any size you want and can fit a Windows install in

    • People who buy a Mac and run Windows exclusively I don't get. But I personally feel comfortable in both Windows and OS X, prefer OS X for most of my non-professional activities, yet am more or less forced to use Windows for the majority of my work-related activities (what can I say? SAP's Java client lacks several important features...). It's sad that you find it laugh-worthy that people like me enjoy having a choice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan (30335)

        People who buy a Mac and run Windows exclusively I don't get. But I personally feel comfortable in both Windows and OS X, prefer OS X for most of my non-professional activities, yet am more or less forced to use Windows for the majority of my work-related activities (what can I say? SAP's Java client lacks several important features...). It's sad that you find it laugh-worthy that people like me enjoy having a choice.

        I did just this. At the time, Apple's Mac Pro was cheaper than an equivalently configured D

    • I make iPhone apps and web apps (mostly front-end work). Now obviously I'd need XCode which is Mac-only. But even if you take away the iPhone apps, Mac is still much easier to set up and use as a developer's machine. e.g. consider the things you need to set up before you have all the tools you need:

      Windows
      1. UNIX tools - I *need* UNIX tools, I can't live without grep. So Cygwin is a must. Takes hours to download and set up, and it's slow.
      2. Text editor - I use vim. The one in Cygwin doesn't cut it because I
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by IANAAC (692242)

        Setting the same thing up in Linux is practically impossible, don't ask me to use Wine. And UI stuff in Linux are generally slower. And having to edit config files in vim or help debug things in the console too many times for what supposedly is working, or should be done in a GUI, isn't fun. Now, let's see Mac:

        You probably have not used Linux in a long time. You don't have to edit config files as you describe anymore. There are many GUI tools available, depending on your distribution.

        Also, everyth

    • When people by a Mac and then run Windows on it.

      People want to be able to run Windows apps even when they're using Macs. I'm typing this on a Mac and I may install Ubuntu on it.

      Falcon

  • An interesting read (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine AT ofdragons DOT com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:56PM (#27069091) Homepage Journal
    I like VMWare partially because I have clients using that to virtualize servers, so I'm familiar with them as a company. I also didn't like how I couldn't completely uninstall Parallels when I tried a demo of it. It left pieces installed and I ended up rebuilding my MBP at one point partially because of that. I don't know that VMWare doesn't do the same thing, so it may be as bad as well. However I'm also more comfortable knowing that they have experience in the server world in general, and not just desktops.
    • by mr_da3m0n (887821)
      I also didn't like how I couldn't completely uninstall Parallels when I tried a demo of it. It left pieces installed and I ended up rebuilding my MBP at one point partially because of that.

      Funny you should say that, I had the exact opposite experience. Some vmware scripts and devices are still present on my system, even after vmware fusion is since long gone :(

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Malc (1751)

        Makes you wonder why Apple doesn't insist on proper uninstallers, like Windows apps.

        • Makes you wonder why Apple doesn't insist on proper uninstallers, like Windows apps.

          Installers for Windows can be just as bad if not worse. Those who release software need to make sure there is a good installer/uninstaller.

          Falcon

    • Uninstalling Parallels isn't too hard. You need to delete the three kexts it installs. It's very bad form for them to load these at boot time, rather than when the program runs, especially since they caused regular kernel panics with the version I bought.
    • You can move VMs from Fusion to Workstation to ESX to Fusion too, with Converter or by copying files (depending). It's handy and I do it regularly. Often it's more convenient for me to build VMs on Fusion and then move them to ESX, even when I'm intending to use the VM only on ESX.

      Disclaimer: I work for VMware.

      • by eharvill (991859)
        Wouldn't deploying from ESX Templates be easier than building/cloning on Fusion then converting/copying/importing over the network to ESX?
  • by gearloos (816828) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @05:03PM (#27069205)
    I couldn't read the article(/.'d) but I know from personal experience (and reading countless others testimony) that Parallels 4 is a humongous heap of manure. I do own Parallels 3 and 4 but never looked back after purchasing VMware 2. When Parallels sold me the upgrade to 4.0 I backed up 4 virtual machines I had (thankfully) then proceded to spend the next 4 days trying to get it to run ANY of them. The first attempt at each upgrade to v4, following Parallels explicit insructions, resulted in total destruction of the virtual machine(unrecoverable with no way to downgrade it back to v3 to use again). I sent in about 5 support requests that are still TO THIS DAY unanswered from last November. As stated before,the article is slashdotted but I don't actually care what the results are. Parallels can keep their products (like they did my money). I will never do business with that company again.
  • Parallels is to problematic in my experience. VMWare seems to work alright but bogs down and locks up occasionally, though it does work a bit better since McAfee was removed. I'm messing with Virtual Box now, so far it's promising but I need to mess with it more. I've run out of reasons to boot Windows, and to chain myself to my desk recently so I haven't been testing it as much as I could.

  • to the summary in the article. It looks like the author switched the Parallels benchmarks with the VMware benchmarks.

    In the majority of overall averages of our tests, Parallels Desktop is the clear winner running 14-20% faster than VMware Fusion. The one exception is for those that need to run Windows XP, 32-bit on 2 virtual processors, VMware Fusion runs about 10% faster than Parallels Desktop.

    The exact opposite appears to be the case, according to the legend at the bottom of the graph.

  • I never even bought it (thank gods) and it caused me problems. I demo'd it for a while, and found it not as good as VMWare Fusion at the time, so I uninstalled it. My Mac Pro took an impressive dive in stability after that, and IIRC, I couldn't even do a software shutdown due to a kernel extension Parallels had left behind. I had to go on the web to find out what files it left behind, and how to remove them, and sure enough, my computer worked fine after that.

    I'm not a huge fan of VMWare Fusion nowadays eit

  • I just can't believe I can't boot a VM from either product off a USB drive.

    KeS

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