Review: VMware Workstation 10 turns to tablets
The best desktop virtualization software for techs adds support for Surface Pro sensors and more polishFollow @syegulalp
USB device handling has also been improved. VMs work better with USB 3 controllers on the host that use the new SuperSpeed mode, so operations like copying files from a USB-attached drive to the VM can be accelerated. Workstation 10 is also SSD aware, meaning that any VMs that use SSDs in direct-attached mode will know the device is an SSD and behave appropriately (the guest OS will know to disable disk defragmentation, for example).
Oldies but goodies
Features from previous versions of VMware Workstation still stand out. I particularly like the suite of functions that allow VMs to be shared with other users, which includes the ability to allow users to connect remotely via the cross-platform VNC protocol. Unity mode lets you display windowed applications from a guest directly on the host desktop, provided the guest is running Linux or Windows and has VMware Tools installed. Unity mode is great for easing tasks like copying and pasting constantly between two programs, or comparing behaviors of two instances of the same app running on different operating systems.
If you're juggling different versions of VMware Player, the virtual machine hardware compatibility editor feature is a big boon. With this, you can ensure that a given VM will be able to work in earlier versions of VMware Player, ESXi, Fusion, ACE, Server, and Workstation by excluding hardware not supported in those earlier editions. Versions all the way back to 5.x are supported, and the resulting changes can be made to a clone of the machine rather than the original.
Most of VMware Workstation's competition comes from three directions: VMware Player, earlier versions of Workstation, and, most significant, Oracle's VirtualBox. The free-to-use VMware Player has been gaining more of the functionality of Workstation over time, but Player lacks key professional-level functions like VM cloning and advanced snapshotting.
While I like VirtualBox for being open source (with free binary versions for noncommercial use), it's always lacked the additional degree of commercial polish that is the hallmark of VMware Workstation. Workstation handles USB devices far better, it restores and resumes VMs much faster, and its implementation of snapshotting and cloning is vastly preferable. Snapshotting in Workstation even includes auto-protection, where Workstation can take periodic snapshots of a system and let you roll back in the event of a disaster.
VMware Workstation 10 is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. It adds a few well-chosen and well-thought-out new features to the previous version. Apart from the support for Surface Pro sensor hardware, you'll find few compelling reasons to upgrade from Workstation 9. But if you've held off upgrading from Workstation 8 until now, Workstation 10 should give you plenty of incentive.
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