Think back to December 2005, you might recall VMware Player 1.0, the company's free virtualization platform built on top of VMware Workstation technology. Then again, you might not remember that day at all. I'm not sure Player 1.0 made a big splash or left much of an impression, to be honest.
VMware Player was billed as a free product that would enable anyone to easily run, evaluate, and share software in a virtual machine using a Windows or Linux PC, but perhaps what stood out most about that announcement was its price tag: free! Those in the virtualization game in 2005 may remember that free wasn't the going price for virtualization technology back then, and although Player was simply a read-only platform (you couldn't actually create virtual machines with it; you could only execute them), it was still a quick and easy solution to get up and running with a pre-packaged virtual machine or an appliance.
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Fast-forward to October 2009 and VMware has removed the handcuffs from VMware Player 3.0. The latest version is out of beta and now available to the general public as a release candidate build. The new version is no longer restricted to just powering on and running a pre-built virtual machine; it has the ability to create virtual machines like its big brother, Workstation. This functionality alone makes this platform a viable alternative to other free solutions like Sun/Oracle VirtualBox and Microsoft Virtual PC.
While it may not pack the same punch as VMware Workstation, it has graduated to a new level of usefulness. In addition to being able to create new virtual machines, Player 3.0 also lets users edit the virtual machine settings, supports Microsoft Windows 7 as a guest and host platform, and provides a new virtual machine library interface.
Other new features found in VMware Player 3.0 include:
- Aero support for Windows 7 and Windows Vista guests
- OpenGL support for Windows guests
- Automatic download and installation of the latest VMware Tools package
- Multiple monitor support
- Print from your VM without installing printer drivers, thanks to a deal with ThinPrint
- ALSA Sound support on Linux hosts
- Added VIX API support so that developers write applications that can interact with their VMs
Get started now. Download your copy of VMware Player 3.0 RC and see for yourself.