Virtual Machines: VMware’s Fusion Pro and Workstation Pro

Virtual Machines: VMware's Fusion Pro and Workstation Pro 1
Coding on a Mac using virtual machines via VMWare Fusion Pro.

This content was produced in partnership with VMware.

For the average person, virtual machines (VMs) can seem quite complex. In reality, they’re simple in terms of how they work and the applications they’re used for. They create a virtual environment for running entire operating systems — like Windows — and exclusive applications, all contained in a virtual sandbox that is securely isolated from the physical computer. Think of it as having a totally new computer except it’s inside the computer you already have. Just like with physical computers, there are a lot of useful things you can do with VMs too, like running Windows or Linux apps on a Mac, for instance. Some more examples include handling potential malware or downloading packages safely, cloning systems as a backup or testing ground, and even developing small applications for systems you don’t have access to. We’ve barely touched upon most things you can do with a VM, however, especially a capable one. Developers, engineers, and IT admins have been using virtual machines for years.

There are many VM solutions out there, chief among them are VMware’s platforms, including Fusion Pro and Workstation Pro. In fact, VMware’s offerings are some of the best for running multiple operating systems and environments from a single computer. We’ll get to why that is in a bit, but for now, the big takeaway is that virtual machines are incredibly useful for all kinds of users, not just enterprise-level professionals and tech savants.

VMware’s solutions provide seamless virtual environments

Typically, when you want to install another operating system on your computer you use a method called dual-booting.This involves figuratively splitting your computer in two, rebooting to use one operating system or the other. It’s useful because you can have both instances, while keeping them separate, but that also comes with a series of inconveniences. To swap platforms in the middle of work, you have to reboot your computer entirely so it’s not easy to share files — sometimes it’s impossible — or work on the same projects. With VMware’s platforms, you can run them all from one single OS, without ever rebooting. Moreover, you can share files, and swap between instances, and applications, seamlessly. To put it into perspective, if you’re running a Windows application in Fusion Pro on a Mac you can swap between the platforms at will.

What else can they do? In Fusion Pro’s case, users can access more advanced features you’d see in a native installation, like running a network simulation for testing latency, accessing full or linked clones to instantly duplicate VMs, and remote connectivity to enterprise vSphere and ESXi environments, so it’s easy to create more complex virtual environments as needed.

In other words, it’s a highly capable testing or virtual environment that doesn’t lose functionality and actually opens up more opportunities, especially for developers, engineers, and IT pros.

VMware Fusion Pro vs. Workstation Pro: What’s the difference?

Developers working on computers of multiple platforms with VMWare.

There are a few minor differences, of course, but the most important thing to note is that Fusion Pro is designed for macOS, while Workstation Pro is meant for Windows and Linux users. While Fusion Pro is aimed at running Windows on Mac, and Workstation is targeting more IT-centric use cases, at the end of the day, each app enables you to run multiple operating systems from a single PC or Mac.

Choosing the right VM tool depends on which operating system or platform your main computer is using. If you have a Mac you’ll want to go with Fusion Pro, the latest being . If you have a Windows or Linux PC, you’ll want to spring for Workstation Pro, and the latest version of that is .

VMware does offer a few additional solutions, including free offerings for folks who intend to use them for ‘personalized use’ as opposed to a work environment. is a free virtualization tool and sandbox that allows users to run multiple operating systems on Linux or Windows PCs, while is similar, but for Mac systems.

VMware Workstation 17 Pro

Meant for running multiple operating systems on a single Windows or Linux PC, Workstation 17 Pro supports a range of guest operating systems including Linux, Unix and BSD, Windows, and more. Through virtualization, you can run multiple systems, called “guests”, for testing, development, learning, security research, and a bevy of additional applications. Frankly, it’s one of the best and most convenient ways to run multiple VMs from a single system with seamless connectivity.

High-performance virtualization capabilities make it possible to run even resource-demanding applications and workloads, which has historically been uncommon for VMs. The latest versions of Fusion and Workstation are able to make full use of the PC or Mac hardware for guest applications to run smoothly, and even support 3D applications like CAD or gaming. In addition, the VM Isolation Boundary prevents guest applications from affecting the host operating system unless the user wants to — users receive better security and encryption overall and the virtual machine doesn’t know that it’s not a completely separate computer. This is absolutely imperative for testing and security analysis, as any damage caused by malware and malicious code won’t be carried over to the primary system.

VMware Fusion 13 Pro

Meant for Mac users, and enabling seamless swaps between platforms without reboots, Fusion Pro revolutionizes working with virtual environments for just about everyone from your average user to developers and IT admins. You can easily run Windows and Linux applications, and the advanced functionality opens up a lot of additional support options, such as network simulation solutions.

All performance is optimized for the Mac by using things like Apple Metal for incredible fast 3D graphics to DirectX 11 apps in Windows. With support for the latest Windows 10 and Windows 11 updates, Fusion 13 Pro gives users the best of both worlds. Even better, integration with VMware’s vSphere and standalone ESXi hosts means that VMs can be managed remotely across hosts and data centers by system admins. The latter is a huge benefit for distributed workforces.

Multiple operating systems, one computer

It really is that simple. VMware’s solutions are excellent for running multiple operating systems on a single computer or machine. Beyond that, the advanced support both protects the primary machine and makes performance better across the board. The security and encryption features ensure that, while testing or running potentially harmful applications in the virtual machine, nothing carries over to the main system. Furthermore, high performance and advanced functionality, like network simulation support or linked clones, increase the usability of the VM. Plus, with integrated vSphere and ESXi, IT administrators and system admins can manage a host of VMs remotely, across a distributed workforce or team.

For running virtual machines, regardless of the platform, there is always one exceptional answer, and that’s VMware.