VMware to Enable Visual Studio Development on Macs
VMware Inc.’s product makes it possible to use Visual Studio on Macs.
Microsoft's decision to extend its Silverlight browser plug-in to the rival operating system Mac OS X was seen by some observers as an acknowledgement from Redmond that many of the Web developers it needs to make Silverlight a success prefer to work on a Mac.
It's not much of a stretch from there to assume some .NET developers also would rather program on Macs. As it happens, VMware Inc. is preparing to release a new desktop virtualization product that, while not specifically designed for developers, would allow Apple-aficionado coders to run Visual Studio in a Windows virtual machine (VM) on their beloved Apple boxes.
Mac Goes Virtual
VMware Fusion, which is currently in beta 4 and expected to ship in August, is the company's first virtualization product designed specifically for the Mac, says Pat Lee, the senior product manger. The new "Unity" feature hides the guest operating system from view, allowing Windows software running in a VM to appear directly on the host OS X desktop -- and even to respond to Mac keyboard shortcuts.
"Say you're a cross-platform developer working in Silverlight. You can have Visual Studio running and it would just be a window on your Mac, and you could have Safari up right next to that while you're testing," Lee says.
Fusion supports several versions of Windows, including Windows Vista. But Microsoft's recent about-face on plans to loosen up licensing terms so less expensive Vista home editions could be run legally in VMs means Fusion users would have to shell out nearly $300 for Vista Business or nearly $400 for Vista Ultimate. Vista Home Basic costs just under $200.
"We've heard Microsoft spokespeople say it's for security reasons. It's hard for us to imagine that, because virtual machines are much more secure" than an OS running directly on the desktop, Lee says.
Microsoft declined to elaborate on last month's virtualization license policy backpedaling, which came hours before the relaxed policy was scheduled to go into effect.
Fusion Made Simple
VMware recommends developers who still want to run Visual Studio on Windows Vista within a Fusion VM use a Mac with plenty of available memory. "If they're going to want to do heavy development, at least a gig and a half of RAM would be recommended," says Lee, who adds that he's run Visual Studio on Windows XP in a Fusion VM with no problems.
Fusion is largely aimed at the retail market and doesn't have the high-end dev testing features of VMware's Workstation, Lee adds: "The core platform is very similar, but the design is designed to be as simple as possible. The goal is to make it easy to get up and running with Windows."