VMware Desktop Virtualization Products Updated
NEW VMWARE WORKSTATION 10 AND FUSION 6Another year, another set of "new product releases" (new versions of VMware products). And, by now it should be very clear that VMware's software marketing goals, presumably to help product predictable and continual cash-flow, are to push annual full-product (read: paid) version releases of their core products, regardless of how significant the new features are in those products. Last year around this time, I wrote about the new features in VMware Workstations 9.0, and just a year before that I wrote about the new features in VMware Workstations 8.0.
There is a definite pattern forming here with regards to both timing and the fact that each release is a paid version upgrade (as opposed to a perhaps free "point upgrade"). It is not just VMware doing this — it is an industry-wide norm now that tries to force customers to keep pumping cash out for small features and bug-fixes that probably should have been included for free. Oh well, time to give up and take it (because this trend is NOT going away).
New Features in VMware Workstation 10.0I am having a difficult time getting overly excited about this latest version of VMware workstation, especially since it is a paid release and I do not see many changes that I care about or plan to use.
Key New Features: Windows 8.1, tablet sensors, and expiring VMs (do you care?)
Windows 8.1 FeaturesSeeing that I have yet to even use Windows 8, I do not care about Windows 8.1 support from VMware Workstation either. But, I will admit, I find it more likely I will perhaps actually take time to evaluate Microsoft Windows 8.1 final — as soon as Microsoft releases it and makes the trial download available — but that alone gives me little reason to consider paying for Workstation version 10.0.
I personally hope to stretch as many years out of Windows 7 (a very solid product) as possible until I can migrate everything to Linux. Had Microsoft not turned Windows into what looks like some goofy smart-phone UI (that I am not to force upon desktop users and/or that I have to learn a whole new application-development and programming model for), perhaps I would think differently about this.
But, if you use Windows 8.1, the features of interest in this Workstation 10.0 release are bound to be handy for you: Unity mode has been enhanced to seamlessly work with Windows 8.1 UI changes and Workstation 10 can now convert a Windows 8.1 physical PC to a virtual machine. Yay, I would expect that even in a "point release", but whatever.
Tablet-Sensor Support (in Virtual Machines)Next, there is the new tablet-sensor (pass-through) to virtual-machines — accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and ambient light sensor data available to VMs. Great! (sarcasm... again, I do not care). Call me old-school: I do not use a tablet, nor a smart-phone or whatever, for my daily applications... I still prefer a desktop with a big monitor for everything from email to spreadsheets to programming and so forth.
I do not currently need to pass tablet touch-sensor-data or gyroscope-data to a virtual machine. But, I can see how tablet-software-developers would like this new tablet-sensor-virtual-machine-pass-through feature for testing their varied "apps" under different operating systems, web browsers, and other configurations.
Expiration Dates for Virtual Machines — something useful!This feature got my attention. As a custom software developer, the ability to set an expiry-date on a virtual machine has quite a bit of potential. Consider the case of demonstrating a custom application to a client where the entire application may reside in a virtual-machine. The client wants to evaluate it for a period of time, but you (the developer) wants at least some level of assurance the software will not function in perpetuity without you receiving some compensation for your product.
I will need to experiment with this feature in detail. I want to see whether, in combination with other virtual-machine administrative-lockdown options, this will provide the security I need in order to leave an entire Virtualized application "stack" (an app, fully self-contained in a VM) with a client or potential client "safely". Since the new expiration date can even require synchronization with a specified time-server (which should prevent the old "set the clock back" circumvention methods), this sounds like a good start for securing one's intellectual property.
Next, I would think that by locking down the VM hardware configuration (and any contained-operating-system's administrative rights, etc), I could prevent someone from gaining access to files via network-copy and such. Coupled with diligent use of code obfuscation and so forth, this may all add up to a nice way to help guard intellectual property while giving clients a great way to evaluate a software product for a limited amount of time.
Other New Features in VMware Workstation 10Some other miscellaneous features were mentioned in the VMware Workstation 10 release information, like:
- Power Off Suspended Virtual Machines — at least, I hope that made the cut from the 2013 technology preview version of Workstation 10; that can be quite handy.
- Support for 16 vCPUs,
- 8 TB SATA disks and 64GB of RAM
- New Virtual SATA (vSATA) disk controller
- Now supporting 20 virtual networks
- USB3 streams support for faster file copying, which provides the following, per release notes:
USB 3 Streams have been implemented to enable high speed transfer of files from USB 3 external storage devices that support this technology. For customers running Workstation 10 on laptops with small hard disks, large data files, video files etc., can be stored on an external USB 3 storage device and accessed quickly from within the virtual machine.
- VMware has also addressed issues Intel, NEC, AMD, TI and Linux Kernel host xHCI drivers to improve overall USB 3 compatibility and performance.
- Improved application and Windows VM startup times
- SSD Pass through
- Multiple monitor set-ups are easier than ever, whether you are using 2, 3, or 4.
- VMware-KVM provides a new interface for using multiple virtual machines
New Operating System Support for:
- Windows 8.1
- Windows 8.1 Enterprise
- Windows Server 2012 R2
- Ubuntu 13.10
BOTTOM LINE: As always, the choice is yours as to whether the upgrade price (around $119) is worth it or not. I have learned (the past few years) to wait for "Cyber Monday" sales that tend to knock $20 or $30 off this price via VMware's online store. Since I am in no hurry, I plan to do that this year again if I decide to invest in this version to gain the expiring-virtual-machines feature or one of the other smaller updates. The full release notes are available online at VMware site (took me a while to locate, too).
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