VMware Workstation 8.0 released

This morning VMware released VMware Workstation 8 to the public.

Here’s the link to the What’s New:  Workstation 8 What’s New

and here are the release notes: Workstation 8.0 Release Notes

I was lucky enough to be one of the people who got invited into the VMware beta so I did have some time to testdrive the new features. This allows me to highlight to you here what I personally think of the new Workstation version and the items that are particularly exciting in this new release.
First off, I think this is THE most exciting release of VMware Workstation since version 5.

To list just a few of the new features:
1. Use VMware workstation as a server. Yes that’s right, the main missing features that went obsolete when support for VMware Server was stopped are now part of VMware workstation. You can start/stop virtual machines automatically with your host and run virtual machines as a service. I’ve tested this part particularly well and it is a great feature. This is feature of what has been dubbed “shared virtual machines”, so in order to use it, you must move your virtual machine to the “shared virtual machines” folder.
2. Shared Virtual Machines, not only can you start/stop VMs with the host, you can also connect to the Workstation host as if it is a vSphere host, using the vSphere Client. Yep, your VMware Workstation host is now upgraded to something that I would call “vSphere light edition”.
3. Connect to vSphere hosts. Within VMware Workstation you will now find a lightweight vSphere client. It allows you to do the most common features, such as connect to your vSphere host, start/stop/pause your remote virtual machines. You can even edit the remote virtual machine. If you think that’s cool, then realize that with its current features this also means you can connect to a remote VMware Workstation host and start the virtual machines there!
4. Upload a VM from your workstation to a vSphere host by a simple drag and drop request. This is very cool as it makes the workflow for uploading your VM from a testing environment to a production host much simpler. Drag the VM to your connected vSphere host and go do something else while waiting for the migration to complete.
5.  Support for running vSphere as a guest including vSphere 5 as “just another operating system” is great for VMware administrators as it allows you to run vSphere 5 in test on your workstation to get familiar with the product before having to deploy it on your production servers. Basically allowing you to run a “cloud in a box” setup.
6. Having VT-x/EPT and AMD V/RVI virtualized if the processor supports it means that you can now run 64bits guests embedded within your vSphere 5 virtual machine. It also means that you can test drive other virtualisation software like running Hyper-V as a guest to check what it can and cannot do.

There are many more really great features that have been added like USB3 support for linux guests, but the rest of the new features can be found at the links to the vmware papers at the top of this article, I don’t think it makes much sense to copy&paste those down here. Better to go get it from “the horses mouth”

What is missing?

Yes sure, I might be a VMware fan, but there’s always something more to have on your wishlist.
The missing parts are mostly linux related.
– Clearly missing is VMware Linux 3D support, behind the curtains there’s a lot of work going on in that department and the VMware linux 3D team has made serious progress over the past year with their vmwgfx driver, but unfortunately it is not part of this release. There’s no option to just enable 3D. Having said that, you can actually get it to work with a bit of extra efforts if you have the skills and supported hardware. I’d love to see the feature, but if VMware decided it was not production ready then I believe that they have solid reasons for choosing to keep from releasing this part.
Linux kernel 3.0 support. I’ve not retested this since the beta yet, but there’s no mention of support in the release notes, so it isn’t likely to have been added. However I do expect to see support for this asap. Just saw a report of workstation 8 running correctly on an ubuntu 10.10 x64 host running with kernel 3.04 and another report of someone who had a guest running with a 3.0.0 kernel as well. So it appears to work both ways, both as host and as guest. Nice!

Now have fun and go grab yourself a copy of VMware Workstation 8

Author: Wil van Antwerpen

Wil van Antwerpen is a software developer who loves to work on Open Source and dabble a bit with VMware products. He likes to help people out as that is a good way to learn more. He is the author of Vimalin Backup (https://vimalin.com) which is virtual machine backup software for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Pro.