Free, pared down version of VMware Workstation is no slouch

Run a totally independent virtual PC in your computer
VMware Workstation is arguably one the best paid virtualization products available for Windows users, so we were not surprised to find that its scaled down, free to download VMware Player counter part is a great tool, as well. A few relatively minor quibbles hold VMware Player back from earning a Kick Ass award, however.

For one. VMware Player is limited to using only four virtual CPU cores. That's probably fine for the vast majority of users, but we tested the app on a 12-core/24-thread system and didn't like to see our resources go to waste. What's more annoying, the virtual machine configuration menu actually offered six- and eight-core options. When launching a VM with six or eight cores, though, an error message would pop up saying only four cores were supported. How about removing the six- and eight-core options so users don't waste their time?

Another thing we didn't like about VMware Player was that it installed multiple services on the host OS that started automatically with Windows, regardless of whether the tool was running. Despite offering OpenGL, Direct3D, and DirectDraw acceleration. VMware Player was unable to complete our video rendering benchmark test. And it doesn't have the ability to take multiple snapshots, either.

On the plus side, however, we found VMware Player's overall performance to be excellent. Disk and memory performance were better than with the others, and the user experience in general just felt more fluid. VMware Player’s Unity Mode, which allows applications running through the virtual machine to appear in separate windows as if they were on the host OS. worked perfectly. VMware Player also seemed to work with the broadest range of peripherals — it even allowed an Asus USB Bluetooth module to function properly under OS X.

VMware Player may not have the same capabilities and tighter host OS integration capabilities of its paid big brother, but as far as free virtualization tools go, it's one heck of a package.

Download Info

Type: Free for personal use only
Platform: Windows 8 compatible, Windows Vista 64-bit, Windows 7, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Vista, Windows XP
Manufacturer: VMware, Inc
Size: 120MB
Price: Free