Friday, December 22, 2006

Buckle up!

The reception of our VMware Fusion for Mac beta has been unbelievable!

Ben's blog entry describes it better than I ever could.

Today I have worked towards solving the issues 3 and 4 he mentions. Issue 4 turned out to be an Apple bug.

You guys, Mac lovers, have no life! You should be in the middle of preparing your end-of-the-year celebrations instead of trying out VMware virtual machines on the Mac! Well, I plea guilty too: I spent the rest of the day thanking you for your feedback and responding to it.
Headless virtual machines in Fusion? Check!

One of you was complaining about the fact that Fusion didn't have all the new and nifty features of VMware Workstation 6, in particular the ability to run a virtual machine headless, a typical use scenario if your virtual machine runs a bunch of server processes, for example if it is a virtual appliance.

Well, it turns out that we did build that feature in Fusion, but it is kind of indirectly exposed. We have confidence in our user interface code, but as the saying goes:

No program is completely bug-free until the last user dies.

We knew you guys would push the Fusion user interface and potentially crash it. When that happens, you gentle user are annoyed, and we developers are embarrassed. The last thing we want in that case is to also lose whatever you were doing in your virtual machines.

So we actually implemented the headless feature in Fusion: if the user interface crashes, then we make sure all your virtual machines immediately become headless. That way, all you have to do is restart the user interface, re-open your virtual machines, and you see them exactly where you left them off!

The corollary feature is that if you want to start a virtual machine headless in Fusion, all you have to do is open it up in the user interface, then go to the Apple menu and select the "Force Quit..." item.

This is the design philosophy we have adopted everywhere for Fusion:
  • Keep the user interface dead simple and easy to use for users who use a Mac because they just want their computer to work.
  • Expose the power of the VMware platform for technical users and developers.


=EP said...

I'm somewhat disappointed with the last two betas I've tried in the last 2-3 months, one was Vista, the second one... Fusion.

It's very early in the game and I have nothing but respect for VMWare, but come on!... From a 1-10 in technical level, I am a 6-7, and I'm very annoyed at the slowness of the beta build due to the debugging being turned on by default and telling us there is no way to turn it off ( least give us hope by NOT telling us anything, and make us think we did something wrong, LOL). I've heard there are ways to turn it off, but haven't researched much yet. I also noticed there were a lot of "advanced" features/options that weren't easily accessible (again, haven't researched much), I don't understand why it has to be so locked down.

I do not quite agree with your design philosophy about leaving the "user interface dead simple". Sure, for years mac users have been considered people that like stuff simple and that they only care for things to work... this is SOOO 4 years ago! I do IT work for school districts and the main reason I switched to a mac was to have the best of all worlds... that's where parallels and boot camp came along. I customize the heck out of it to get what I wanted out of it when I was trying it out - their beta and tryout versions. You wouldn't believe how many IT professionals are using macs now a days... and the numbers are growing. I think you would have a better appreciation for your software if you include a "Advanced settings" preference window in the application. Sure, I'm sure there is a lot of features (i hope) that can be access throught the CLI, but sometimes we are too busy to have to research our way through forums and knowledgebases to find docs for these.

My first beta was SOOO bad yesterday, that I actually thought about NOT bothering any more (waiting for the bugs to be fixed on fusion) and go buy Parallels. I don't know... maybe the next fusion build my change my mind, I am NOT a patient person though - then again, most ITs aren't.

Regis "HPReg" Duchesne said...

> From a 1-10 in technical level,
> I am a 6-7,

Can you elaborate a bit more on this? What do you like, and what do you dislike?

> and I'm very annoyed at the slowness
> of the beta build due to the debugging
> being turned on by default and telling
> us there is no way to turn it off

That is the price to pay as a beta user: you get early access to products, but in exchange you help us find which of the assumptions we made in our code are wrong. It is a win-win situation. If we allowed you to run without the DEBUG code, beta testers would always do it, and we would not get anything out of the deal. The reason we warn about it (you can dismiss the warning once for all if it bothers you) is because otherwise people would do performance comparisons with released competitive products, and our DEBUG code could show us in a bad light.

In the end, the product ends up working on a way wider range of hardware/software configuration. The customers are happy because the product is rock solid, we are happy because we keep a reputation of quality and we can lower our support costs. It is a win-win situation again.

> I also noticed there were a lot of
> "advanced" features/options that
> weren't easily accessible

We don't lock them down on purpose. We have ported the whole virtualization platform, but what is taking time now is to put a native UI on top of it. It takes about a year to write a Workstation UI. We wanted to enter the market sooner. It is hopefully just a first step for us.

> My first beta was SOOO bad yesterday,
> that I actually thought about NOT
> bothering any more (waiting for the
> bugs to be fixed on fusion)

Another way to solve this problem is to tell me what went wrong, so I can fix it for you in the next revision of Fusion.

Some people have found issues in Fusion so far, and they have reported them on the Fusion public beta forum. In many cases, we have found temporary workarounds for these. I encourage you to discuss any issue you find in Fusion there.

> I am NOT a patient person though

Then maybe beta programs are not for you?

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