Desktop virtualization tools vie for position
Four competing solutions from Microsoft, VMware, Parallels, and InnoTek demonstrate potential and the need to grow
Long ago, before the era of hardware slices and server farms, virtualization was a desktop thing. From SoftPC to Windows on Windows, desktop virtualization was primarily a tool for developers and support personnel ... people who had a compelling reason to run more than one environment concurrently on their PCs or Macs. Then along came VMware and the VDI (Virtual Desktop Initiative). Suddenly, virtualizing the desktop became the Next Big Thing in TCO reduction, and the big boys and their big plans stole much of the attention away from the traditional desktop virtualization model.
[ For a primer on desktop virtualization, see "What desktop virtualization really means" | VMwareWorkstation 6.0 was selected for an InfoWorld Technology of the Year award. See the slideshow of all the winners in the platforms category. ]
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In this roundup I take a look at four of the leading desktop virtualization packages, including VMware Workstation 6.0 Beta 3, a feature-laden developer workbench; two legacy compatibility solutions, Parallels Workstation for Windows 2.2 and Microsoft Virtual PC 2007; and an open source option you may have never heard of (but likely will in the near future), InnoTek VirtualBox 1.3.
Along the way I’ll explore how well these solutions scale and determine where they fit into the overall desktop virtualization landscape. Hint: Microsoft has conceded the market, while Parallels and InnoTek are still searching for an identity. This leaves VMware as the only company that understands this niche, and even then there are signs of delusions of grandeur (VDI).