VMware has released the first beta of Fusion 1.1, virtualization software that lets Mac owners run Windows on Intel-powered computers.

Fusion 1.1 now supports 3D games that require DirectX 9.0, said VMware in the beta's release notes. It also synchronizes iPhones within Windows virtual machines (VMs). The beta improves several aspects of Unity, the Fusion feature that lets users run Windows applications without actually displaying Windows itself. When an application is run in Unity mode, it looks and behaves like a Mac OS X window.

The update also fixes a number of bugs, including one that caused the host Mac's wireless connection to max out the computer's CPU at 100 per cent. Other fixes include one that makes sure time and date stamps are retained on files dragged between Mac and a VM, and another that blocks a Mac kernel panic if an external drive containing the virtual machine is disconnected. VMware also posted a long list of known problems that remain in the beta.

VMware highlighted the improved gaming support - important to Mac owners running virtualization software like Fusion or its rival, Parallels Desktop for Mac, because of Windows' larger gaming library. According to VMware, "experimental" DirectX 9.0 support will let users run more titles than before. Shader support is not included with the beta, however, so games that require that 3D feature may not run.

Users can download the beta from the VMWare site. The software requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo or Xeon processor, 512MB of memory and Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later.