Windows on the Mac: Parallels Desktop 5 vs. VMware Fusion 3 vs. Sun’s VirtualBox 3.1

New Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac. $15 Off!“The latest versions of the Mac virtualization products from Parallels, VMware, and Sun offer significant improvements over previous versions, and all are worth the upgrade,” John Rizzo reports for InfoWorld. “They’re faster with better 3-D graphics, are better integrated with Mac OS X, and in two cases, are optimized for running all the features of Windows 7.”

“Overall, Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is the top virtualizer for Mac OS X. VMware Fusion 3 is a close second, with Sun’s VirtualBox 3.1 running a distant third. VirtualBox has a few unique features and is free, but doesn’t support many Mac OS X features. Parallels Desktop 5 and VMware Fusion 3 also automate the installation of guest operating systems and support multiple monitors,” Rizzo reports. “Furthermore, these new versions add support for Windows 7 Aero features, such as Aero Peek and Aero Glass. VirtualBox doesn’t do any of these.”

Rizzo reports, “Parallels Desktop 5 provides the best overall performance. Not that VMware Fusion 3 is slow, but it can stumble with graphics-heavy tasks and uses more of the Mac’s processor, leaving less CPU bandwidth for Mac applications… Parallels is also more Mac-like in enabling you to launch Windows applications from Mac OS X, even when Parallels isn’t running. It puts a Windows application folder in the Dock, just as Snow Leopard has a folder for Mac apps. Add a second Windows virtual machine, and a second folder is tacked on. Fusion appends a Start menu to the right side of the Mac’s top-screen menu bar. It works, but I prefer the more standard Dock approach.”

There’s much more in the full review here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]


  1. I’m quite satisfied with Parallels 5. It’s fast, even when running Windows 7. It uses my Bootcamp partition so no need to have a Parallels VM and Bootcamp, I can switch back and forth.

    With 8gb of ram and a 750gb hd on the old MacBook Pro I can switch between Mac and Windows whenever I have to perform some distasteful Windows only task.

  2. If I had to run Windows applications I wish I had something that did away with the Windows OS and ran the apps straight on.
    Windows is junk and I don’t see how people put up up with it, let alone sing its praises.

  3. I hate the fact that I have to run Windows because of “Active-x, Sharpoint, .net and aspx POS”!!! That monopoly is forcing me to use Windows for web browser based workflow. Thats how MS can keep their monopoly thrive and grow. Lock in those web based apps and content. Anyway, Parallels works great when FORCED to use Windows POS!

  4. Bootcamp is an either or solution. Most of my clients don’t want to restart to run a Windows application for a few minutes to an hour.
    Bootcamp is fine for an extended use of Windows in a work session.

  5. @Troy

    It only takes a minute to setup shared folders in VBox. I had Parallels, but I don’t like being forced to upgrade to go to Snow Leopard.

    I want my iPad. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  6. While Crossover is intriguing, for whatever reason (and I’m no Windows expert, so don’t ask why), it doesn’t run the web based content through IE that’s currently requiring me to run Windows.

    I access 3 IE only websites in order to perform my job, and they do not work under IE/Crossover.

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