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VMware Workstation 7 gets faster and higher end features

By John Rizzo

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yesterday, VMware released updates of its virtualization software for Windows hosts--VMware Workstation 7 (US $189, $99 upgrade) and VMware Player 3 (free). VMware Workstation goes far beyond the capabilities of VMware Fusion, and adds a host of new features aimed at enterprise IT and software developers, and can even run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine. Player 3 adds the ability to create virtual machines. Previous versions of Player can only run virtual machines.

Like the Fusion 3 for Mac, VMware Workstation 7 and Player 3 now support the Aero 3D graphics features Windows Vista and Windows 7 guest OS's. But Workstation 7 also supports the Aero Peak feature in a Windows 7 host OS. Aero Peak displays a preview window of what's going on in the virtual machine when you hover the cursor over the taskbar item for Workstation 7.

Graphics is aided by support for DirectX 9 Shader Model and OpenGL 2.1. The new versions can also display a virtual machine in full-screen mode across multiple monitors. You can now assign more hardware resources to a virtual machine: up to four CPUs and 32 GB of memory.

For IT pros and developers

For IT professionals, Workstation 7 can now run VMware's virtualization server products, ESXi and VSphere, in a virtual machine. Which means Workstation 7 can run virtual machines inside of virtual machines. This feature is useful for testing multiple configurations of the server products.

IT professionals also get increased security; Workstation 7 now supports 256-bit AES encryption of the virtual machines. Virtual machines now support secure authentication through Smart Cards.

Workstation 7 offers new features for software developers. A Record and Reply feature lets you move forward and backward in time, as useful for tool for debugging. In other words, you can ?rewind? a virtual machine to see the state of 30 seconds ago. Workstation 7 also offers integration with Eclipse, Java, and the SpringSource tool suit.

VMware Player 3, which VMware refers to as "light desktop virtualization," adds the ability to create virtual machines. Previous versions can only run virtual machines created by VMware WorkStation, Fusion, or other tools. Both Workstation 7 and Player 3 add Easy Install support for Windows 7. Easy Install installs Windows without user input -- it automates the installation. VMware Player 3 is free, but does not come with technical support.

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