VMware Workstation vs. Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle VM VirtualBox continues to nip at the heels of undisputed virtualization leader VMware, resulting in a bounty of choice for application developers, IT pros and power users.

VMware Workstation is the undisputed leader in desktop virtualization tools. Yet VirtualBox, now being ridden by Oracle after making headway under Sun, continues to mount a challenge.

Make no mistake, VMware Workstation-with its shear breadth of guest operating system support, graphics display power, intimate support of Windows 7 and proficient use of the latest hardware developments to maximize virtual machine support-continues to set the pace for this product category. But Oracle VM VirtualBox continues to nip at the heels of VMware Workstation by continuing to offer a personal-use version of the product at no cost, while stuffing in important virtual machine performance improvements.

The result is a bounty of choice for application developers, IT pros and power users who want to try out running multiple systems using a variety of operating systems in a locally controlled workstation.

For IT managers who are working in high-volume test-and-development environments-with virtual machine playback, fully developed management tools and access to VMware's ACE (Assured Computing Environment)-VMware Workstation is still the best choice. However, the workstation also carries the biggest price tag: At $189 per user, the license costs are much higher than the $50 enterprise license for Oracle VM VirtualBox.

But the initial license fees (or lack thereof) don't tell the whole story. What follows are two reviews. The first one is of VMware Workstation 7.1, and the second is of Oracle VM VirtualBox 3.2.