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VMware Workstation for Windows

We found VMware Workstation for Windows to be quite a bit more advanced than its competition. The product has the USB 2.0 support missing from Parallels, and has a unity mode that's similar to the one VMware implements on Fusion for Mac.

Like VirtualBox on Windows, VMware Workstation can also be connected using remote display techniques such as VNC. And more interestingly, you can use two or more monitors if your hardware supports this.

Snapshots, including nested snapshots, worked similarly to VMware's Fusion product. Nesting snapshots let us perform rollbacks to previous versions of the guest operating system — useful for testing and tech support applications of VMware Workstation.

Because USB 2.0 is supported, we could capture movies in Windows XP and Ubuntu as guest virtual machines (VM). The video speed was very good at both capturing and replaying.

Running XP guests

Running a XP as a guest of XP might seem strange, but it's frequently done for many reasons. VMware Workstation, like the VMware Mac version, readily makes “greased” settings for XP and it was a breeze. We did, however, have to install Bluetooth drivers, because the default representation to a guest machine doesn't include native machine Bluetooth resources in hardware discovery. But we also had great success (after driver installation) with the Webcam. VMware passed the Bluetooth test very well — and delivered the highest speed transfer of all of the combinations we tested, perhaps owing to the expanded USB 2.0+ device support.

The VMware unity mode worked similarly to the Mac version, where guest VM applications were presented natively. However, we had to use a key-combo to switch to them, unlike the more native feel of the Mac version. Sharing folders took a little more work.

There were two ways to share folders in Workstation. One was the older method that required us to map shares as though they were Server Message Block shares. This meant mapping drives through universal naming convention nomenclature like \\host\Shared folders\share_name. The second option was much simpler. By checking the option “Map as network drive in Windows guests”, we were able to see the share directly in My Computer. Dragging and dropping files between XP and XP guest worked simply.

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