In a modern environment virtual machines are extremely helpful. Such a tool helps users to cut IT costs and make it possible to run two or more operating systems simultaneously on a single computer.
When it comes to picking the best virtual machine for you, Oracle's VirtualBox and VMware's Fusion are among the top choices. Both companies provide a rock-solid virtual machine monitor solution, targeting both consumer and enterprise customers. But there are big differences between the two, with one of the key differences being that VirtualBox is free, whereas VMware Fusion is paid software – and quite a number of intricate differences besides.
|Free Trial||Free Trial||Free Trial|
|Import Boot Camp Partitions|
|Windows Integrated Into macOS|
|Guest OS Support|
|Virtual Copy of macOS|
|Windows Data Transfer|
|Shared Folders||DirectX 10.1 Support|
|Microsoft Cortana Integration|
|iCloud/Dropbox/Google Drive Integration|
|"Open With" Option|
|Free Version||30 days||n/a|
When it comes to getting Windows up and running with VirtualBox, it's not a question of how but when. Oracle’s freeware has all the features users need to run multiple operating systems on a Mac, Windows computer, Linux, or even Oracle's own Solaris operating system.
However, as with all freeware, there are a few compromises that users will have to accept, such as the fact that getting started isn't too easy. For example, the basic package that is downloaded doesn't support USB 2.0, 3.0, disk image encryption, or Intel PXE boot ROM. To add these functions to the virtual machine users will need to download an extension pack, which can also enable other capabilities of the virtual machine.
Secondly, while the user interface is easy to understand, it is rather dated – just another drawback to expect if you are opting to use freeware. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so easy to accept the slow deployment of the virtual machine, especially for novice users. The very helpful user manual and forums come in handy while deploying the virtual machine, which means you'll need to allocate time just to getting started.
Capable of running more than 200 operating systems as virtual machines, VMware Fusion positions itself as one of the top paid choices that customers have. What makes VMware Fusion convenient are the various little automated features that it packs in. For example, the software installation process is much more streamlined with VMware Fusion when compared to VirtualBox.
Users can choose between two integration types – seamless or isolated – during the initial stages of the OS installation and won't need to take any additional steps or read a single how-to in order to enable bidirectional sharing, which is unfortunately the case with VirtualBox.
Thanks to its modern and easy-to-understand user interface, controlling a virtual machine with VMware Fusion isn't a challenge. Launching the VM will also launch the guest operating system automatically and, if the user so chooses, seamlessly integrate it into macOS – the Unity feature ensures that this is possible without any hiccups. This cannot be said about VirtualBox, however, as its “Seamless mode” is a bit rough around the edges; it needs additional input from the user and the Retina display support is buggy.
A VMware Fusion lifetime license costs $79.99, but this allows for users to install it on any of their personal Mac computers. The license gives access to VMware's customer support and several channels to reach out to the company if they need help, but before they shell out the money users have 30 days to test the software for free.
VirtualBox has a major advantage when compared to VMware Fusion: it's free software and so anyone with a bit of time and computer knowledge will be able to run a wide variety of guest operating systems on their Mac. It includes lots of customization options, too, which do admittedly require the user's attention and a little bit of tech knowledge to make the proper selection.
VMware Fusion, on the other hand, counterbalances the cost of the license with the wide variety of automated features it packs. Deploying a new virtual machine is less time consuming and requires less user input, while the bidirectional sharing and Unity mode just work. This makes VMware Fusion the convenient choice for those who want things to be as smooth and simple as possible.