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.

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.

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
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.