VMware Workstation 6.5, the latest version of VMware's PC or laptop virtualization tool, continues the company's trend of offering top-notch technology to developers and power users. Other vendors are following VMware's lead in this area, including Sun Microsystems with VirtualBox and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft with its Virtual PC technology.
VMware Workstation 6.5 is an outstanding tool for creating and running a
wide variety of virtual machines on a stand-alone PC or laptop with best-in-class
setup and administration tools.
The latest version of VMware Workstation is an excellent tool for
developers, multiplatform power users and anyone who needs to emulate a network
of computers on a single machine. eWEEK Labs thought highly of many previous
editions of VMware Workstation and Version 6.5 is no exception, once again
earning an Analysts Choice award for product excellence.
Unlike previous years, however, VMware Workstation 6.5 at $189 per license
now has serious competition. Sun
Microsystems' VirtualBox is a surprisingly full-featured, no-cost
alternative that runs on Windows and Linux systems and Parallels Desktop for
Mac and that costs just shy of $80. Microsoft's
Virtual PC remains a second-tier player in this power user arena.
Workstation 6.5, which became available Sept. 29, adds an improved
"Unity" desktop experience, an "Easy Install" function to
aid guest operating system installation by getting license key and other
information up front, encrypted ACE (Assured
Computing Environment)-managed VM creation and Pocket ACE
authoring tools, along with better graphics handling and new debugging tools
that reveal step-by-step VM operations.
I ran Workstation 6.5 on a Dell XPS M1210 with 4GB of RAM
and an Intel T2300 1.66GHz processor running Windows Vista Ultimate with
Service Pack 1. I ran Microsoft Office and a variety of productivity tools as
well as applications that moved data between systems in a self-contained network
without error. Workstation once again proved to be a top-notch hypervisor for
running guest operating systems.
VMware Workstation 6.5 is a Type 2 hypervisor, which means it is software
that installs on top of the operating system installed on the physical host
system. Type 2 hypervisors usually have slightly lesser performance than Type 1
hypervisors, which interface directly with the physical hardware, such as
Microsoft's Hyper-V or VMware's ESX Server. Type 2 hypervisors are ideally
suited for test, development and demonstration environments because they can
easily create self-contained environments on a single system. Workstation 6.5
is particularly well suited because it ships with a built-in DHCP (Dynamic Host
Configuration Protocol) server and support for up to 10 virtual switches.
A 30-day trial version of VMware Workstation 6.5 can be downloaded here.
Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at email@example.com.