Parallels 17 vs VMWare Fusion

If you talk to a minimalist they’ll often explain one of the great realities of life. When you buy stuff you have to maintain it. There are some things you buy that take care of you, but there are others where you have to take care of it. I’m not sure when the trend started—or if it’s always been there—but instead of spending time chasing stuff many people go in search of experiences. Even AJR’s song 100 Bad Days references how even bad experiences can turn into a positive.

When it comes to technology I enjoy the experience that running a Mac provides. There are still some applications that are only available on Windows. So I need to run Windows. The two applications that are in this category are my favorite game, Civilization IV. Yes, I know there are newer versions, but IV has the gameplay that I enjoy the most out of the series and after 15+ years it’s still the one I choose. The Mac version was 32 bit only, and so when Apple went all-in on 64 bit applications the game was unplayable on the Mac running their latest OS. I can still play it on older machines or in Windows.

The other application is one I need for work, Microsoft Project. This is one of the most powerful Zombie Applications I’ve ever used. A zombie application is one that the developer still supports but has such a slow pace of enhancement that for all intents and purposes it appears to be stagnant. It’s a powerful application because it does some really cool math, but it hasn’t evolved to a collaborative workflow. Microsoft still makes a lot of money from supporting the app in the enterprise, so I doubt it’s going anywhere, but it only runs on Windows…

So, I need Windows. I don’t want to carry 2 computers and that meant running a virtual machine. I have a friend who runs a lot of VMs for her work as a pen tester. So I asked her what she used. She heartily responded with VMWare Fusion. So I spent the nearly $100 and purchased the app. It ran Windows just fine.

Then MacOS got updated and so did VMWare Fusion. There was another $100 expense to get the latest version to work with the latest MacOS. It felt like that was the normal. I was willing to pay the price of running the best software for my needs.

Then Apple came out with the M1 chip—and it changed everything.

You see, the M1 chip is based on a different architecture than the intel chips of previous generations. This means that the existing VMWare Fusion that I had just paid for wouldn’t work.

Ok, I thought. Not a problem. Apple did a good job announcing the switch to Apple Silicon and working with developers. Surely an app as popular as VMWare Fusion would be one of the developers they’d work with to move the software over to the new architecture…

Nope.

It’s been more than a year. The company has not provided any meaningful update and the most information you can find on the subject seems to be from discussions on the forums.

That was not a good experience.

Thankfully we have competition in the market. Parallels—one of VMWare’s competitors, stepped up to the plate in a big way and provided an update for their software. It ran on Apple Silicon during the first demo.

So Parallels (which is also priced at just under $100) got my business.

While my experience running VMWare was good, my experience purchasing and repurchasing as well their lack of response with Apple Silicon really strained the relationship.

In contrast. I woke up this morning to an email. You see MacOS has an update coming later this fall (as usual). So, that means it’s time for an update to Parallels. Only this time, the update was free. And it comes with lots of new features. Here’s a few listed from their blog post.

  • Optimized for Windows 11 and macOS Monterey
  • Improved performance
  • Windows 10 Battery Status
  • Windows 10 Security
  • Enhanced Desktop, Video and Gaming Experience
  • Enhanced Experience in Coherence Mode
  • Seamlessly Drag and Drop Content Between Apps and OSs
  • Enhanced USB Support
  • Better Disk Space Control
  • Copy and Paste Unformatted Text
  • Multimonitor support for Linux
  • Automatically Optimize Virtual Machines for Peak Performance

This is exactly what a well supported non-Zombie application experience should look like. Thank you to the Parallels team for all your hard work.