It’s catching up to Parallels Desktop in features, and it’s still free for non-commercial use.
The transition to Apple silicon for Macs was not a painless one. While the new Apple-made CPUs are better, they also meant that, with Macs going ARM, there was no easy way to install Windows on your Mac anymore. So users quickly turned to the next best solution — virtualization. In this segment, Parallels is probably the best option, but you need to pay up to $119.99 a year in order to use it. VMware Fusion, its main competitor, seems to finally be catching up.
VMware Fusion, the version of the popular virtualization software VMware for Macs, has just released version 13.5. It’s packed with a lot of improvements that closes the functionality gap between VMware Fusion and Parallels. There’s now support for DirectX 11 3D graphics, something that represents a huge leap for graphics compatibility and gaming in the virtual machine. The update is also improving file transfers between the host machine and the virtual machine with support for drag and drop and copy/paste between both systems.
Perhaps the biggest improvement, however, is how easy the process of installing Windows 11 on the VM is getting. The fact that the computer is ARM-based means that you also need a copy of Windows 11 that works on ARM, which takes a bit more effort to hunt down than an ISO for your regular, run-of-the-mill x86 Windows 11. That’s why VMware Fusion is adding a “Get Windows” capability that will download ARM Windows 11 for you in addition to whatever display and networking drivers you might need. All you need to do is hit the “Get Windows” button while setting up the VM, and select your edition and language. VMware should do the rest for you.
With these improvements, VMware is much more competitive with Parallels, and while it’s probably not quite up there yet with the latter, future releases might just get things across the finish line. Make sure to check out VMware Fusion if you want to play around with Windows on your Apple silicon Mac — unlike Parallels, this is free for non-commercial use, and we cannot emphasize how huge of an advantage that is.