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VMware Workstation OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

VMware Workstation is the #6 ranked solution in our list of top Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) tools. It is most often compared to VMware vSphere: VMware Workstation vs VMware vSphere

What is VMware Workstation?
VMware Workstation transforms the way technical professionals develop, test, demonstrate and deploy software by running multiple x86-based operating systems simultaneously on the same PC. Built on 15 years of virtualization excellence and winner of more than 50 industry awards, VMware Workstation takes desktop virtualization to the next level by giving users an unmatched operating system support, rich user experience and incredible performance.
Buyer's Guide

Download the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

VMware Workstation Customers
Akademiska Hus
VMware Workstation Video

Archived VMware Workstation Reviews (more than two years old)

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ITCS user
Network Manager / Senior Network Engineer at Warnock, Tanner & Associates
Real User
I have found this product excellent for quick test/dev environments.

Pros and Cons

  • "I have found this product excellent for test/dev environments. This is 90% of what I use this product for."
  • "I have had issues with the virtual network adapters in the past that has taken some time to troubleshoot."

What is our primary use case?

This product is solid and useful for quick test/dev environments. 

Found replicating client application upgrades and compatibility tests within a virtual environment makes upgrades very successful. 

We also use it for custom application testing to ensure compatibility and smooth transitions.  

 

How has it helped my organization?

Since I work with so many different customers, I deal with many operating systems and workstation configurations. When performing upgrades to servers, applications, windows, etc., I need to know the ramifications before we go live with production.  

Creating labs has been useful for my employees when working on certifications.

I am also not a big fan of adding and removing software over and over on my laptop, so I use my VM's when I need a temporary application installed. It also keeps the clutter down, keeping my main tools fast and efficient.  

They also come in handy when cleaning infected thumb drives.

What is most valuable?

I have found this product excellent for test/dev environments. This is 90% of what I use this product for. 

What needs improvement?

I have had issues with the virtual network adapters in the past that has taken some time to troubleshoot. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have encountered stability issues with the virtual networks and have had run into issue with copying or moving VMs. Usually these all work great 9 out of 10 times, but when it doesn't work right it become very time consuming to fix and troubleshoot.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

None thus far.

How are customer service and technical support?

8 out of 10. Good SR system to communicate through emails and phone support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

No

How was the initial setup?

Setup is very easy.

What was our ROI?

Using workstation saves money on big hardware using vSphere just for test/dev.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is a bit steep in my opinion for testing and there are other options.  None however that are so powerful and easy to use.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer139530
Systems and Security Administrator at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
I like the ability to drag a VM to an additional monitor and utilize VMs on separate windows.

What is most valuable?

The ability to drag a VM to an additional monitor and utilize VMs on separate windows, drag and drop. I like the newer network editor. Using a wireless guest network to keep my network separate from activities like downloading software and the like, this keeps the bandwidth for my users at an optimum level while allowing me to download an ISO image from MS or some other large file. I used to have to wait until after hours to perform bandwidth hogging work. But now, I can leverage our wireless guest network to accomplish these tasks and minimize late hours.

How has it helped my organization?

The ability to run Virtual machines in different networks and with different security levels. I can sandbox my windows machine when I need to use a non domain admin account for daily tasks but have another sandboxed machine to handle system admin tasks. I also have a wireless sand boxed Ubuntu machine that is in no way connected to our internal network for testing our websites, outside email etc. This has saved me a great deal of time and effort.

What needs improvement?

Performance is a needed improvement. I would like to see a faster response on my VMs. Linux support is so-so - many of the VM Tools you need are different packages downloadable from the distro you are using. Ubuntu 15.x seems to have improved the ability that plagued the product - getting the host share folder to be accessible from a Linux VM.

Pricing. When you purchase VMware workstation you get a great product but there is a cost. It is more expensive than Fusion or Player.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used VMware workstation 10 and now 12 - I skipped 11. It is an expensive upgrade too. With the versions listed above, I have been running this for several years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Deploying using a LINUX OS - (especially CENTOS 7) seems to strip some functionality and is fraught with difficulties. Save yourself some headaches - deploy it in a Windows environment and then use Linux as a VM.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have had a few issues prior to update1 - but I am unsure if this is due to my platform or if it is a VMware related issue. I also noticed that it uses a lot of RAM when running multiple instances of Windows VMs. Update - I have 32GB RAM now and it works flawlessly. I have been working in this newer environment for several months and I couldn't be more pleased.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

On Windows 7 - I can run 2 VMs (I have a beefy Workstation with 2 quad core Xeon procs and two NVIDIA Quadro Cards as well as 16 GB RAM) It does not play well when there are more than 2 windows VMs running on top of a Windows host environment. Update - I have a new machine with an i7 6700 processor - it is more than adequate to run the base Windows 8.1 OS, another Windows 8.1 OS a Windows 7 OS, and an Ubuntu 16.04 OS simultaneously. I do this on a daily basis at work and the performance is great. I use a SSD for the base Windows OS and the other OS's live on a larger 3 TB drive that I use for virtual machine/server work.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

I think support is an issue for VMware - they only offer support for this product once you purchase more than 10 licenses. This is a show-stopper for smaller organizations like us. We would like to pay for support the same way we do for the Vsphere licenses and have the ability to upgrade the product under support without an additional charge. This is really a big deal for us.

Technical Support:

Not much there for technical support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used Virtual box and Hyper-V. VMware workstation is more powerful than either of these. You can create virtual networks to test things on, you can emulate an entire network with outside, inside, DMZ, servers, clients, (use GNS3 to create a virtual firewall) then test things prior to rollouts. You can also connect to Vcenter or to esxi hosts. You can upload servers and change settings, you can even add HDD's from your SAN to a VM from VMworkstation when that VM is powered off

How was the initial setup?

Pretty simple - the network editor is the one you have to pay attention to if you are trying to setup multiple networks. The defaults really do not unleash the power of the platform.

What about the implementation team?

In house

What was our ROI?

It paid for itself multiple times. Especially when we had to pull in older Windows 2003 servers for disk manipulation. I also use this when vCenter is unavailable to manipulate machine settings.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Spendy - be prepared to buy multiple Windows OS's and to spend a couple hundred or more on the Workstation software. Look for a VMware sale if possible. I also use this at home to run my Ubuntu within Windows.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, virtual box and Hyper-v (comes with Windows 8 and 10 professional for free so you really don't need to buy Hyper-V) VMware is far more powerful than either of the free ones. No Network editor, the ability to copy and paste on the fly etc. is limited on the freebies. See my comments below about network editor.

What other advice do I have?

Use this to secure your Domain admin accounts - don't setup email, surf the web, or do anything outside of your internal network using your DA account. This product can help you immensely. Using the virtual network editor can also be a benefit to you in this regard you can setup a virtual machine using wireless on a totally different network, use the vm (I use Ubuntu) to perform web tasks like testing your web site externally or to download and scan for malware prior to letting it on your production network.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Find out what your peers are saying about VMware, Parallels, Microsoft and others in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Updated: October 2021.
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ITCS user
Web Administrator at a sports company with 51-200 employees
Vendor
I use it to run multiple instances of systems on my host machine to get better usability.

Valuable Features:

VM management - ability to very easily create and manage multiple VMs of various platforms. Portability and ease of saving and copying entire VMs from machine to machine.

Improvements to My Organization:

As a systems admin, I use it to run multiple instances of systems on my host machine to get better usability and for testing new builds for our users as well as for server updates. 

Room for Improvement:

It's been a struggle at times to keep drive shares and video drivers working across updates. So a bit of stability in those areas would be nice.

Use of Solution:

2 years

Stability Issues:

I've been hit with a few bugs and documented issues.Specifically with video not behaving for VM windows on multiple monitors. And shared printing from the host machine is very temperamental.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

It always seems a bit steep to me on renewals, but it pairs very well with our existing vSphere architecture so it offers a few more benefits and ease of use.

Other Solutions Considered:

I use Hyper-V for the same purposes but VMware Workstation performs well and scales down to our developers needs easily.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Technical Lead with 51-200 employees
MSP
It allows the recreation of an entire network including multiple subnets, but the addition of a built-in virtual router would be good.

Valuable Features

Network virtualisation allows the recreation of an entire network including multiple subnets, this is required to correctly recreate live deployment scenarios. It can interact with vSphere/Esxi to allow VMs to be moved directly into vSphere, or copied out and stood-up in Workstation; full support to import/export from OVF templates is also supported. This functionality has proved extremely beneficial in pre-staging supporting servers for DR recovery tests as well as testing system upgrades.

Improvements to My Organization

It has given us the flexibility to recreate live server scenarios including the supporting networks and AD domain controllers; these are then used to test upgrades or migrations with no impact on the live servers or network. These actions can then be repeated on the live servers, or the upgraded test VM can simply replace the original server (depending on the service requirements and server role). This can be completed by transferring the test VM directly from Workstation to the ESXI host or vSphere environment. If the transfer is the preferred method, the original VM remains available as a failback.

Room for Improvement

The addition of a built-in virtual router would be a good addition. Currently, I run my own virtual router in order to provide conectivity between virtual subnets.

Use of Solution

I've been using it for several years; VMware Workstation since v6 (released in 2008). Initially, it was just for building test servers for training purposes, and versions 7, 8 and now 9 for creating test implementations of live server deployment scenarios, to assist in resolving live issues or to test change controls.

Deployment Issues

There were no issues.

Stability Issues

In v6, it was a 32bit environment with a maximum memory of 4Gb RAM. Therefore, this required a high level of swap out of RAM to disk in order to provide sufficient memory space to run VMs, this occasionally caused system crashes. Since v8 this has not been an issue.

Scalability Issues

None, Workstation scales to 32Gb of RAM.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

No VMware support is provided with Workstation.

Technical Support:

No VMware technical support is available with VMware Workstation.

Initial Setup

The initial set-up is straight forward, however, you need to ensure that virtualisation is switched on in the BIOS.

ROI

Workstation is a one off licence payment.

Other Advice

Make sure you have at least four cores available on an Intel i5 (i7 with eight cores recommended) a minimum of 8Gb RAM (32Gb recommended) and lots of internal storage (SSD preferable). Having a virtual SCSI SAN is also recommended if you wish to evaluate vSphere or Hyper-V deployments including shared storage for VM failover.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user5931
Developer at a university with 51-200 employees
Vendor
The Best Desktop Virtualization Tool

Valuable Features:

It was in March 2010, when I first experienced VMware Workstation when my superior asked me to setup a LAMP server in my desktop computer. At first I was hesitant but I started to love it because of the following reasons: • It is very easy to use and no complications in installation • It runs multiple operating systems such as Linux, Ubuntu, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and 8 at the same time without rebooting • It replicates server and desktop environments using snapshots, replays and clones • It has web interface which easily manage and control virtual machines • It integrates Visual Studio, Eclipse and many applications including MySQL, MSSQL and IBM DB2 • It supports 3D Graphics, HD audio, USB 2.0 and 3.0, folder sharing and hardware devices sharing such as Camera and Bluetooth

Room for Improvement:

VMware Workstations is for desktop use only and is pricey. The latest VMware workstation which is Workstation 9 costs $249.

Other Advice:

VMware workstation is expensive but with its excellent features and performance for a desktop, the cost is nothing. You can use VMware Workstation to develop softwares and applications, test, check and analyze the performance of softwares and experience different virtual network environments such as stand-alone or client–server environments. I am definitely recommending VMware workstation to my fellow programmers, IT professionals, software and systems engineers, teacher and students who want to explore and take advantage of the power of desktop virtualization.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.