The ability to share virtual machines is worth the upgrade to VMware Workstation 8 alone and there’s a lot more besides including a re-vamped user interface, making it a must-have for app developers, system testers and other IT workers.
Streamlined user interface; up to 64GB memory per VM; remote VM sharing; drag-and-drop migration to vSphere
Remains very resource hungry
VMware Workstation requires:
Minimum of a 64-bit x86 Processor (1.3GHz or faster)
2GB RAM (4GB RAM and above recommended)
1GB available hard disk space for guest operating systems
Host operating systems (32-bit & 64-bit):
Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2003 Standard
Windows XP with SP2
Ubuntu 8.04 -11.04
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.5-6.1
SUSE Linux 10-11 SP1
Mandriva Linux 2008–2011
Oracle Linux 5.0-6.1
A long-time favourite of application developers, system testers and other IT professionals, the eighth generation of VMware Workstation comes with over 50 improvements on top of the usual VM upgrades, including a revamped user interface, the ability to share virtual machines and drag-and-drop vSphere integration.
We checked it out on Windows 7, although Workstation 8 is available for both Windows and Linux platforms. Either way the package now requires a 64-bit processor (AMD or Intel) and is a lot more particular when it comes to processor specifics, which means that it may not work on older machines. Fortunately we had no such problems but, if in doubt, you can find the exact requirements, and a tool to check for compatibility, on the VMware web site.
As with previous releases, Workstation 8 is very resource hungry and we’d recommend a high-spec PC to get the best out of the product. Multi-core and/or multi-threaded processors are a must, and if you have more than one physical processor then all the better with enhanced SMP support just one of those 50-plus enhancements.
The official line on memory is that you can get away with just a couple of gigabytes, but here too it’s best to configure as much as you can afford. We had 4GB to play with on our test PCs, which seemed reasonable, but led to performance issues even with just two VMs running.
In terms of support for guest operating systems, not much changes. Unsurprising really, given that VMware Workstation can already host just about anything you care to throw at it, from old versions of Windows to the latest Linux distros and 64-bit Windows Server releases. There’s little change too when it comes to how VMs are created and deployed, with much the same wizards and tools to convert physical to virtual machines and vice versa; take snapshots; create clones and so on.
The resources each VM can be assigned, however, have been tweaked with support now for up to 64GB of memory per VM. This adds to the support for up to eight virtual processors/cores plus 2TB of virtual disk space.
The software is very easy to install and existing users don’t have to start over. Like us they can upgrade to the new release while retaining all their existing virtual machines and virtual network settings intact.
That said, it is a chargeable upgrade, costing £77.68 regardless of the version you’re switching from.