Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wow - the new VMWare fusion 4.0 UI is such a load of rubbish

VMWare is just about the only software product I pay for. Everything else is either open source or comes with a device.

Anyhow, I just upgraded my copy of VMWare fusion (the mac host package) from version 3.x to version 4.x and boy is the UI rubbish. VMWare have added all kinds of cool UI gizmos to their utility screens (the stuff used to manage VMs before you even start them) but in the process have made the UI painfully slow and clunky.

With version 3.x I could see all my VMs in a single window and click on any of them and see the configuration on a pane to the right. The configuration pane presented summary information including notes I left to myself about the intended use of the VM, and on that same pane I could drill down to specific details such as network, disk or memory configuration. All the VMs remained listed to the left.

With 4.0 a cool slidy single-pane UI opens showing a black rectangle for each VM (which could show a screen snapshot from a running VM - cool, but is useless to me because I only save my VMs in a shut down state). Only the short name of each VM is shown beneath each black rectangle. No sign of my comments nor a summary of the VM configuration. If I click on a rectangle the VM might start, or the rectangle might just be selected depending on where I click on the rectangle (the faint grey arrow in the middle is a control(!) not just part of the image). If the VM decides to start, my list of VMs is removed (I didn't ask for that!) and the VM boots in it's own window. To get back to the admin window I need to go to the VMWare application menu or recall a special three-key incantation. If the VM doesn't start I just get the name of the VM highlighted in blue and then I have to press a button elsewhere on the admin window to see the config summary, and even then I just get a (very flashily displayed) set of icons, again replacing my list of VMs, oh, and the window leaps to a different part of the screen for some reason. Only when I click on the 'General' icon do I see the comment I left for myself. Then, having found that I had not selected the VM I wanted I close the settings icon panel and ... just get a big black rectangle for that one VM. To get back to my list of VMs I need to use the three-finger incantation again *and* have to close the VM I didn't want because that now hangs around in a window of it's own.

In short (well, fairly short) the move from the 3.x admin UI to 4.0 means instead of one click to understand the nature of a VM and then one click to understand another VM I have: click to select a rectangle (careful not to click the middle!), then press a button in the top left of the UI, then press the General icon ... then to see the next VM I have to {shift}+{cmd}+L, close the window for the VM I'm not interested in and ... start all over again. Not only are there many, many more steps but each step is sloooowwwww.

The VMWare fusion 4.0 admin UI is a massive leap backwards in terms of usability. It's crap when compare to the 3.x admin UI. It's like a graphic artist or widget designer was let loose without an experienced UX person there to guide them.

Dear VMWare, for fusion 4.1 could you please throw away the rubbish cheap shiny 4.0 admin UI and go back to the 3.x model. The 3.x UI may not have been so cool, but it worked much, much, better. Thanks.


Torsten said...

Did you try the free VirtualBox from Oracle?

Anonymous said...

Agree totally on VMware Fusion 4, do they think people only have 1 or 2 VMs ? VMWare Player (admittedly free) on Windows hides the comments completely which is even worse. You have to edit the vmx file to see them.