VMware Workstation 6.5 Is a Top Virtualization Tool

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.