VMware Rolls Out Workstation 7 for Desktops

VMware today announced the release VMware Workstation 7, its desktop virtualization software for a variety of different usage scenarios where one desktop PC or even a laptop might need to run Windows 7, XP and Vista.

That’s the fundamental difference between Workstation and ESX. While server-side virtualization is for server consolidation and increasing the utilization of servers, client-side consolidation is for environments where more than one operating system is needed.

With the recent release of Windows 7, that might prove more commonplace. VMware (NYSE: VMW) has added full Windows 7 support to the new version of Workstation and also made it a side-by-side partner with the old operating systems, so developers testing apps can see how it works on all three operating systems, for example.

“It’s very much a productivity tool for a tech professional — depending what you do, that use case changes,” Michael Paiko, senior product marketing manager for desktop clients at VMware, told InternetNews.com.

Paiko said there are four key targets: developers writing apps; quality assurance and testers who test those apps; technical sales professionals; and training classes.

In the case of technical sales professional, because it’s also possible to install Red Hat or Ubuntu Linux as well as Windows Server 2008 on the computer, it’s possible to give a full demonstration of a multi-level computer application and show it running on desktops, middleware and servers.

“A lot of companies can simulate multi-tier apps. It’s almost like a mini-datacenter in a box. This is a huge time savings because they create a mini demo of their system and customize it for each customer, showing how it works along the way,” Paiko said.

Because VMware Workstation lets you reset the state of a virtual machine to its original snapshot, it’s deal for classes in which students can mess around and change all kinds of settings and files: Hit a button when the class is over and the whole thing resets to its original state. VMware Workstation is isolated in a sandbox and can be set to not write to disk outside of the sandbox if necessary.

Also for this release, VMware added support for the Aero Glass interface and Flip 3D in Windows 7. With Windows 7 Aero Peek, it’s possible to mouse over virtual machines in the taskbar and see them all running live in the thumbnails.

In addition, virtual machines can be paused. Unlike shutting them down, where the contents are saved to disk and everything closed, pausing just ceases operation. This is handy when more CPU cycles and memory are needed for other jobs.

It supports software development and testing with new IDE integrations for the SpringSource Tools Suite and Eclipse IDE for Java & C/C++. The driverless feature passes on the host system’s printer driver to all of the virtual machines, so only one driver needs to be installed to support all of the VMs.

VMware is also releasing the VMware Player 3, which when combined with VMware Converter, allows users to take a snapshot of their existing XP/Vista/7 machine, copy everything, data files included, and save it as an image to be loaded and run as a virtual machine.

So, if a person upgrades to a Windows 7 computer, this will allow for saving the entire contents of their old XP computer and running it in a VM. Because it contains everything from their old system, users in this case are advised to be judicious about not saving all of their media files: That could make the system image enormous.

VMware Workstation 7 is available now for download from VMware for a suggested retail price of $189.00. Upgrades from prior versions of VMware Workstation are available for $99.00. VMware Workstation can also be purchased through VMware’s network of resellers and distributors.

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