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VMware Player Versus VMware Workstation Versus VMware Server

One of the limitations of VMware Player is that you cannot create virtual machines with the VMware Player product. In order to create VMs, you need VMware Workstation (which is not free—you can download it for $189).

Another major product functionality that I saw in the VMware Workstation Edition that was not in the Player Edition is the ability to suspend the state of the virtual machine. This powerful feature allows you to save the current state of a running VM. To return a suspended VM to operation, you simply use the Resume feature. What does this mean for the end user? Think of being able to save the states of all the applications you are currently working on, being able to turn off your computer and then resume to the state where you were working later. Because VMware doesn't really care what physical hardware you are running on, the beauty of being able to suspend and resume is really magnified as you are able to save suspended state VMs and resume these paused VMs on different physical machines.

Another product offering of VMware, Inc. that is distributed freely is VMware Server. VMware Server allows users to create, edit, and play VMs. Unlike the Player and Workstation flavors, VMware servers use a client server model. This allows remote access to VMs over a network.

As a Developer

As a developer, the VMware Player and its price tag (remember, it’s free) open up a lot of possibilities. Let's say I am a book author who wants to teach my readers about the latest software application. Rather than having the user install the software application on his own machine directly, I can opt to ship a VMware image of a free OS (e.g., insert favorite Linux distribution here) with the software application I am writing about already installed on a shiny DVD that is coupled with my book. The book reader can then open up the VMware image and hit the ground running with the software application setup in an unadulterated environment that was pre-tested by the author.

I have personally used VMware Player in situations where I know that I cannot run two versions of a software application on the same machine, but I do have a need to do so. If you are a software developer, back-level operating system testing comes to mind. VMware Player is ideal for software development companies that want to ensure that their software applications do work on older operating systems, but do not have the budgets to maintain dedicated hardware to run legacy operating systems. Without the VMware offering, a developer might opt to run different boot partitions on the same machine, but with VMware, a developer doesn't have to worry about such a complex setup.

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