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VMWare Fusion 2.0 is released

Great news for any virtualization junkies out there (I know I'm not the only one). VMWare Fusion 2.0 has just been will be released Tuesday! Fusion 2.0 is a free upgrade for all existing 1.x customers, and it adds more than 100 new features and enhancements.

[Note: VMware's product manager told us an official announcement time of 12:01am Tuesday morning, EDT; however the final version of Fusion 2.0 has not appeared on VMware's website yet as of 12:45am, as pointed out by Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch. –Ed. Update: as of 1 am EDT, the Fusion page has been revised to include the 2.0 upgrade information. –Ed.]

I've been using Fusion 2.0 since it first entered beta during the summer and have been very impressed with its performance and feature set. In addition to TUAW, I also write for Download Squad, where we've been a little bit Chrome-Crazy for the last couple of weeks. Although I have access to a few Windows machines, because all my tools for writing and screenshots and graphics are on my Mac, I've been using the beta and release candidate versions of VMWare Fusion 2.0 for all of my testing.

Fusion 2.0 features lots of improvements and new features, but the most significant feature, from a technology-pushing perspective, is probably the ability to run Leopard Server as a virtual machine. When Apple made the decision to allow for server virtualization right after Leopard's release, both VMWare and Parallels announced plans to integrate that feature into their respective products. Parallels released Parallels Server back in June, targeting the higher-end enterprise market. VMWare decided to include the feature in Fusion 2.0 to give consumers a taste of the good life.

Although my year-old MacBook isn't really the ideal platform to run a virtual instance of Leopard Server, I did give it a go with one of the RC releases and was pleasantly surprised to find I could run a stable local MAMP server off it, and it withstood a pounding from my boyfriend's MacBook and the other media computers we have scattered around our apartment. On a loaded iMac or Mac Pro, I could see Fusion being very handy for testing or replicating a production environment.

Another new feature to Fusion 2.0, which first appeared in one of the release candidates, is a 1-year subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus. Although I personally prefer NOD32 for Windows anti-virus protection, having anti-virus software already built into the virtual machine is a great step, especially for users who might be new to virtualization and/or the Mac. There is no longer an excuse to not have some sort of protection on your Windows installs.

VMWare Fusion 2.0 is $79.99 for new users, and free for existing customers. VMWare offers a 30-day free trial, if you want to try it out before buying. You need an Intel Mac running OS X 10.4 or higher. Like all virtualization products, the more RAM you have in your machine, the easier things will go.

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