Tuesday, December 26, 2006

VMware Workstation 6.0 now in Beta

VMWare offers some of my absolute favorite software/technology products - all revolving around "virtual machines", which let you make much greater use of your existing computing hardware by being able to run what is in effect multiple-computers on one computer. I make regular use of their free VMware Player software, as well as their VMware workstation software. I've written about VMware software virtualization advantages previously here on my software and technology blog, and, I keep a watch on the upcoming products VMware has in the works, planned, or in Beta.

And, now VMware has announced the Beta release of VMWare Workstation 6.0. This new release brings some long-awaited features I am really looking forward to testing. These include:
  • Multiple Monitor Support! Woohoo! This is a very cool addition, offering the ability to span monitors within a guest operating-system, just like you can do with a normal desktop. I have one development machine I would really like to put this feature to use on.
  • Run Virtual Machines in the Background. This is sorta nice, when you don't want the graphical portion of VMware Workstation always running just to keep a virtual-machine running. Now there will be a little system-tray icon to show what is running instead if you like - quite minimal compared to the full GUI.
  • Enhanced copy/paste between disparate guest operating systems. Now, this is cool for sure, giving you an easy way to copy/paste files between Windows and Linux to name one use. Even drag-n-drop between mixed OS's is now supported!! This should be a huge time-saver in mixed-OS environments. Definitely looking forward to testing it.
  • USB 2.0 high-speed device support (certainly something I will welcome).
  • Increased RAM limits -- more total memory can be used be Workstation, and each guest-OS can be allocated more. Sadly, I will need to purchase more RAM to try this one out, but I have needed a good excuse to do so. :) Maybe a 16GB workstation is in my future. Ah, just the thought of putting all that memory to use..
As with any beta, there are known bugs and issues that are still in a state of flux, but the release sounds like a promising one. Here is a link to the full VMware Workstation 6.0 Beta Release Notes to see more detail on what is new.

In addition recently, VMware has announced how they would be offering their desktop virtualization software on the new Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. This should be really great news for those that want to go with an Apple OS-X machine, but are worried about having access to Microsoft Windows on occasion -- once VMware's products are out for the Mac, this concern should greatly dissipate, since you should be able to run MS Windows from a Mac machine in a fully self-contained virtual-machine (With the advantage over Apple's "Bootcamp" being how you can run both OSX and Windows simultaneously -- OS-X as the "host" OS, and Windows as the "guest" OS). Heck, run Linux on it too just for kicks!

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