VMware Fusion

19:47 Thu 14 Aug 2008. Updated: 17:58 28 Jan 2009
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I had to find a quick and reliable way to test IE7 on my MacBook Pro this week, and so ended up using VMware Fusion. Various people at work recommended it over Parallels.

I’ve been quite impressed so far. The main issue was that it took forever for the email confirmation from VMware to actually arrive, and their insisting on a valid email address for the test struck me as stupid—if I’d had much choice, I might have stopped there. If you’re demoing your product, you should really try to provide to people as easily as possible so that they can use the demo and go on from there to finding your product indispensible and hence buying it.

Once that hurdle was overcome, however, it was remarkably trouble free. Installation was easy, and the XP from work also gave me no problems. I was able to upgrade to IE7 without any hassle.

The fact that it (almost) seamlessly works with VPN, too, it great—the host machine’s VPN connection is shared with the emulated machine. I say “almost” because it didn’t work at first, and it took me a while to realize that the host VPN was actually down when I started the emulated machine’s Windows, and so I needed to restart while VPN was available. That took care of it.

One glitch I noticed is that the emulated machine appears to take over the DVD drive. While running the emulator, I wasn’t able to do anything at the host level to access or eject the DVD (but ejecting it from within emulation worked fine).

Overall, based on the fact that it appears to just work, I have to recommend it if you need something that performs that function (and are willing to use proprietary software—sadly I don’t think any of the free software emulators are quite at this level yet).

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