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Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Virtualization

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion

How do VMware Fusion 3 and Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac compare?

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Application Launch Test

Here, we tested four of the most common applications used in virtualized desktop environments: Microsoft Office 2007 including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Similar to the OS launch tests, an Adam launch is one where Windows has been completely rebooted, and then given a few minutes to finish its startup process. A successive launch test is done repeatedly without restarting Windows.

Most applications, including these, launch very quickly with the worst performance being under Windows 7 for Adam launches. Even so, launches are so fast on both virtualization products that we focused exclusively on the Adam and not the successive launches.

Here are the results:

  • Microsoft Word Adam Launch

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 35.4% faster (1 seconds faster, fastest: 1.89 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 14.3% faster (0.9 seconds faster, fastest: 5.63 seconds)

  • Microsoft Excel Adam Launch

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 16.8% faster (0.3 seconds faster, fastest: 1.73 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 15.3% faster (0.2 seconds faster, fastest: 1.13 seconds)

  • Microsoft PowerPoint Adam Launch

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 23.2% faster (0.6 seconds faster, fastest: 2.11 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 15.4% faster (0.3 seconds faster, fastest: 1.82 seconds)

  • Microsoft Outlook Adam Launch

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 37.3% faster (1.7 seconds faster, fastest: 2.9 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 16.7% faster (0.3 seconds faster, fastest: 1.53 seconds)

Figure 6: Windows Application Launch Performance

Application Performance Tests

In many cases, applications today perform so well and so fast, even under virtualized environments, that anyone would be pleased for small documents and activities. We focused our efforts on larger tasks that were not only large enough to measure, but will also stress the systems to some extent.

For Microsoft Word, we took a very large document and did a global search and replace of about 95,000 items. For Microsoft Excel, we ran a macro that generated a large quantity of random numbers, and filled cells with them. And, for Outlook, we had the application do an IMAP sync with a mail server on the test LAN).

  • Word Global Find & Replace

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 7.2% faster (2.3 seconds faster, fastest: 29.81 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 10.7% faster (3.7 seconds faster, fastest: 30.99 seconds)

  • Excel Macro Test

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 18.3% faster (1.5 seconds faster, fastest: 6.65 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 50.8% faster (6.7 seconds faster, fastest: 6.5 seconds)

  • Outlook IMAP Sync

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 6.8% faster (3.3 seconds faster, fastest: 46.12 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 7.2% faster (3.4 seconds faster, fastest: 43.66 seconds)

Figure 7: Windows Application Performance

Many web pages are simple enough that they load very quickly. So, to test the speed of Internet Explorer, we created a large, complex page in HTML loaded from a local LAN server. The page was very long, but used only common HTML elements, (no JavaScript, etc.). Unlike prior benchmarks, VMware Fusion performed as expected. That said, Parallels was still faster.

The tests performed used the same web page ... with and without SSL.

  • Internet Explorer Load complex web page

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 20.0% faster (1.1 seconds faster, fastest: 4.22 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 18.0% faster (0.6 seconds faster, fastest: 2.78 seconds)

  • Internet Explorer Load complex web page (SSL)

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 9.2% faster (0.7 seconds faster, fastest: 6.7 seconds)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 33.0% faster (2.3 seconds faster, fastest: 4.68 seconds)

Figure 8: Internet Explorer Application Performance

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