Want to run Windows side-by-side with Mac OS X on your Intel Mac? VMware Fusion just released a major update putting the software at version 3.0 and there's a lot of fixes and changes that make it worthy of checking out.

Those who have used VMware Fusion in the past know that it has had its share of hiccups with earlier versions, but most seem to have been ironed out in the latest release. Along with fixes, version 3.0 includes a performance boost making the overall experience more snappy and up to twice as fast when resuming from a suspended virtual machine. They also optimized it for Snow Leopard, utilizing the new operating system's advanced architecture with a 64-bit core engine and native support for the 64-bit kernel. The latest version also supports high-end 3D graphics using OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3, enabling gamers to play the latest Windows games on their Mac.

VMware Fusion

Probably the best thing about the latest VMware Fusion is the ability to share content in your Windows environment with what you already have on your Mac. This means that you can pull in images, music, and documents from folders in the Mac Finder into your Windows environment. Even better, you can open Windows files from the Mac Finder and have them boot up in Windows on VMware Fusion automatically. Another avenue of access is the always-on Applications menu found in the Mac Menubar that lets you start up Windows apps in VMware Fusion even when the program isn't running.

VMware Fusion
Launch Windows apps directly from the Mac Menubar (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

In our testing we loaded up Windows 7 on VMware Fusion and most everything worked as advertised. We found some graphics issues like strange graphical artifacts showing up onscreen in certain cases. But overall, we were able to run Windows 7 fairly smoothly and use many of the new features without incident. Overall, with the addition of more features to make switching between the two operating systems less of a hassle and the affordable price tag of $79.99, Mac users who need a Windows environment will appreciate everything VMware fusion has to offer.

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.