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VMware's Workstation 5 Comes Alive

VMware is going back to where it all started, updating its flagship desktop virtualization software with new tools for distributed computing, multiple snapshot and cloning.

VMware Workstation 5.0 is a major new release of the company's first product, created to speed software testing and deployment of applications for x86 operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Netware and Solaris x86.

The software enables companies to buy fewer PCs by allowing a machine to run several OS versions on one piece of hardware.

The Workstation 5.0 is unique because its lets enterprises build multi-tier applications, senior product manager Srinivas Krishnamurti said.

For example, VMware has taken memory-sharing technology from the company's ESX Server data center software and bundled it into the Workstation.

Krishnamurti said the company added a new distributed computing tool called "teams," which connects multiple virtual machines together to test multi-tier applications on local desktops. Digital security concern Entrust used the new "teams" tool to test public key infrastructure (PKI) client applications.

New cloning capabilities let users mark any virtual machine as a template so numerous users can share its base installation. This lets developers build on each other's work, Krishnamurti said.

The new multiple snapshots feature lets users make several point-in-time copies of virtual machines and jump back to any snapshot with one click. The snapshot manager allows engineers to manage and switch between multiple snapshots, making it easier to test disparate service packs and configurations.

Other features include movie capture. This perk lets users record screen, keyboard and mouse activity as an AVI file, which can be replayed on a desktop for debugging.

Workstation 5.0 also boasts new 64-bit operating system support, including Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 and 9. New support for processors with 64-bit extensions includes Intel EM64T and AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 architectures.

The new software is available now for both Windows and Linux. The electronic download is available for $189 from VMware, while the boxed version is $199. A 30-day trial version of Workstation 5 can be downloaded here.

Workstation 1.0 was launched in 1999. The company has enjoyed a string of successful products since then, including its more advanced virtualization products and technology, such as GSX Server, ESX Server and VMotion.

VMware's success with partners such as IBM and HP attracted the eye of EMC, which acquired the vendor last year amid a slew of software buys.