Virtualization

Review: VMware Workstation 10

VMware isn't standing still with their new release of Workstation 10. With several new features, Oracle and Microsoft should take notice.

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Since 1999, VMware has provided quality virtualization solutions for the home and business markets. Of course, being the first at high quality commercial virtual machine software doesn't mean that VMware is resting on their laurels. With the increased onslaught of competition bearing down on all sides from the likes of Microsoft, Parallels, and Oracle, VMware is determined to differentiate its offerings and stay on top of the pack.

New features

Product Information

In September of 2013, VMware launched the new and cutting edge Workstation 10. Suffice to say, this release does bring some exciting new features to the table, which are bound to please both small-time users as well as large-scale enterprise environments. The first major feature is support for tablet sensors like the gyroscope and accelerometer straight from the Surface Pro or other fully-compliant x86/x64 tablet.

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The interface remains mostly unchanged since version 9

Basically, if you are running a guest Windows 8 VM and you are on your Surface Pro tablet, the VM will behave more appropriately, with the capability of harnessing your tablet's full capabilities. For instance, if you are a Windows developer running a test bed install of Windows 8 and some apps within that require the use of tablet functionalities, you can have your apps pull data straight from the sensor chipset on your host tablet. To get an idea of the capabilities that VMware has to offer in this area, you can snag the Sensor Diagnostic Tool from the Windows Driver Kit.

Another addition to VMware Workstation 10 is the capability of advanced restrictions for VMs. Essentially, you can provide virtual machines that can be set to expire and disable, through the use of a handy restrictions management server. This can be extremely useful if you are looking for a way to prevent an environment for specific software testing from being used past a certain date, like a Windows 8 VM containing time-sensitive beta code.

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If a constant network connection is unavailable, the advanced restrictions will allow the VM to be used offline for up to a number of days the system administrator specifies before requiring to talk to the authentication servers again to check the VM status. When a VM is about to expire, you can set custom messages that warn the user ahead of time, including any additional information on where a new image series can be located for future testing, if desired.

Finally, the KVM functionality in VMware Workstation 10, which strips away the entire user interface of Workstation, leaves you with nothing but the VM to fill your entire screen. Additionally, you can employ the use of keyboard hotkeys to switch between active VMs seamlessly. Multi-monitor setups can benefit from this as well, since you can define what screen shows which VM at any given time, improving your workflow and saving you time. Everything involving the KVM is handled using the command interpreter in Windows, including power options and preferences.

Although I wasn't able to properly test this functionality, VMware has improved the Unity mode, such that Windows 8.1, which is due out at the end of October 2013, can properly integrate your virtualized environment with the host. Whether this feature will be included in Windows 8 is yet to be seen, though with Windows 8.1 being a free upgrade, it's not likely this will be a concern for VMware.

Bottom line

With features ranging from new tablet hardware support to the improved enterprise management capabilities like the advanced restrictions for VMs, this new release of Workstation 10 has shaped up to be quite the worthy upgrade. At a price of $249 for newcomers or $119 for pre-existing licensees of the Workstation 8 and 9 products, the new improvements easily pay for themselves and give other solutions like Hyper-V and VirtualBox strong competition, which will continue to drive innovation and improvements for virtualization in general.

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

1 comments
Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Have you upgraded to Workstation 10 - what do you think of it?