Saturday, August 04, 2007

Comparison Shopping

If you know your customers are comparison shopping, you need to give them ways to compare.

I'm planning to buy a new Intel-based Mac this fall (probably not till the new OS release is out, so I can get that with it), and one of the important things I want is the ability to run Windows apps. (I'm happily replacing the Windows laptop because I don't have to own one of the damn things for those occasions when I must run Windows software). Currently there are two ways to do this. The simplest is Boot Camp, Apple's free utility (which will be a feature of the next OS release) that lets you boot your machine into either Windows or OS X. The slicker solution is a program called Parallels, which lets you have both going simultaneously.

A third option will appear this month: Fusion, another virtualization package which, from what I've read, does the same thing Parallels does and costs the same, but it just newer.

So the obvious question when I get my new machine is: Parallels or Fusion?

I went to the Fusion site hoping to find some answers, and while there is lots of information about the product, there is nothing to tell me, "Here's why we are better than Parallels, the current product that's gotten excellent reviews."

I'm sure the folks at VMware who created Fusion don't want to hear this, but they are releasing a me-too product. There's no shame in that; if it's a good product, that's fine, and that keeps the incumbent on their toes. If it's a me-too-better product, it's good news for users.

But I have no way to tell. I did a few Google searches and found a few things - a review that said Fusion seemed to run a bit faster, another that said Parallels has more handy features - and so if I were buying today, here's the reality: I can order a Mac from one of the major resellers with Parallels and Windows already installed out of the box, so I don't have to deal with it.

But if there's some compelling reason to use Fusion, I'd go through the hassle of installing everything separately.

The product web site reads like no one has ever done what they are doing before, and that's just not reality. Sure, nobody gets enthused about having to position themselves with respect to a well-known player that got to market first. But if that's your reality, you'd better; otherwise buyers (like me) will have no idea why they should even think about your product, when they've been hearing how great the other one is.

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