There are two common methods for running Microsoft Windows and Windows programs on an Apple Macintosh, and one of those methods just got better.
The first approach uses a feature called Boot Camp that comes free on every new Mac. Using Boot Camp, the entire Mac is turned into a Windows PC, with the full capabilities and speed of a standard Windows machine. No trace of the Mac operating system is left running. The downside is that you can't run Windows and Mac programs side by side.
The second approach uses one of two third-party programs to create a virtual Windows PC inside your Mac. This faux Windows machine runs at normal speeds and can operate simultaneously with the Mac's own operating system. Programs native to each operating system can run side by side. The downside is that, because Windows doesn't get complete control of the computer's hardware, it isn't quite as fast as in Boot Camp, and a few of its functions, like 3D graphics, don't work as well.
This latter method is enabled by two excellent, closely matched $80 programs: Parallels, from a Swiss-based company of the same name, and Fusion, from VMWare, a U.S. company. It is Fusion that just got better, because VMWare just issued version 2.0 of the product with lots of new features.
I've been testing Fusion 2.0 for a couple of weeks. My verdict is that while you won't go wrong with Parallels, Fusion edges it out as the better product.
Like Boot Camp and Parallels, Fusion requires you to obtain and install a fresh, boxed, full version of Windows on your Mac. But once you've done that, your Mac becomes two computers in one.
Like Parallels, Fusion allows you to run Windows programs in one of three ways. You can see the entire Windows desktop, with Windows programs running within it, inside its own window on your Mac. Or, using a feature called “Unity,” each Windows program can float free, as if it were just another Mac program, with the Windows desktop invisible. If you minimize a Windows program, it disappears into an icon in the Mac's Dock, just as Mac programs do.
Finally, you can devote the entire screen to the Windows desktop and hide the Mac operating system entirely.
And, in my experience, Fusion is a bit faster than Parallels. Both programs put a strain on your Mac when performing major tasks. But Fusion seems to affect the Mac less.