VMware is a well-known American cloud computing and virtualization technology company. It released the first raw version of the Workstation Player in 2008. A year later, it added defining features such as a graphical user interface, drag-and-drop enhancements, and multi-monitor display.
In 2014, the VMware Workstation Player stopped supporting 32-bit computers after an update. In 2020, it dropped support for Windows 7 and became available only on Windows 8 or later (64-bit only) and the Linux operating system.
The VMware Workstation Player is software for virtual machines (opens in new tab) platform that is available for free for personal use. But you have to pay for a license to use it commercially.
VMware Workstation Player: Subscriptions and Pricing
As we said, you can download the non-commercial version of this software for free. You have to pay $149 per device license for commercial use, which is quite expensive. If you upgrade from a previous version, you will pay $79.
The more expensive version of this tool, VMware Workstation Pro, requires payment. Unlike its free-to-use counterpart, Workstation Pro allows you to create and manage encrypted virtual machines (VMs) and create full clones of the operating system. It costs $199 for a new license for each PC or $99 for an upgrade. You can also add a year of technical support for a fee of $42.
With VMware, you can request a full refund up to 30 days after your purchase.
VMware Workstation Player: Features
Virtualization is the core feature of the VM Workstation Player. It allows you to create virtual machines on a Windows or Linux PC. The virtual machine functions as a separate computer (opens in new tab) with its own CPU, memory, network interface and storage. It uses a hypervisor to separate the virtual machine’s resources from your PC’s hardware so that you can use it efficiently.
Your PC is the host system, while the virtual machine you install is the guest operating system. There are minimum requirements for a host system, including a minimum processing speed of 400 MHz, 128 MB of memory, and 1 GB of free disk space. Most modern PCs meet this requirement, so there’s no need to worry.
Virtual machines are isolated from the rest of the host system and a single host system can have multiple virtual machines. However, VMware Player only allows you to run one virtual machine at a time – you must close the current virtual machine before opening a new one. You have to pay for the Workstation Pro license if you want to run multiple VMs at the same time.
This tool allows you to manage your virtual machines in several ways. For example, you can change the amount of memory allocated to each virtual machine. You can connect and disconnect all preconfigured devices in a virtual machine. You can copy and paste files from a virtual machine to the host and vice versa.
There are many use cases for virtual machines. You may want to adopt a new operating system, but you are not yet sure of your decision. You can install that operating system on a virtual machine to see how it works and decide if it’s right for you.
You can also use virtual machines to develop software for other platforms. Let’s say you use a PC with macOS but need to code software for the Windows operating system. You can install a Windows-powered virtual machine on your Mac PC and do just that.
If you want to install virtual machines for personal use, you can do it for free with VMware WorkStation Player. But if you need to do that in a commercial setting, such as a school or business, you’ll need to purchase the license.
This software enables enterprises to deliver a corporate desktop image that employees (opens in new tab) can manage on their personal desktop. It’s like having access to your work laptop (opens in new tab) from anywhere, which is useful in this age of remote working. Likewise, schools can use VMware Player to provide a virtual sandbox for students to participate in educational activities.
The free VMware Workstation Player has many drawbacks compared to the paid Workstation Pro version. As we mentioned, the former doesn’t allow you to run multiple virtual machines at the same time. It also doesn’t allow you to take a snapshot (backup) of the virtual machine, while Workstation Pro does. Likewise, you cannot encrypt virtual machines with passwords (opens in new tab) with the free VMware player, but that is possible with Workstation Pro.
Workstation Player is not compatible with Mac computers (opens in new tab). But VMware offers another tool (merger) that allows macOS-powered PCs to run Windows or Linux virtual machines.
VMware Workstation Player: Interface and Usage
While researching for this review, we noticed many customer complaints that this software is difficult to set up and configure on a new PC. However, the complexity seems to diminish once you get past the initial setup process. Customer reviews often emphasized usability as a central selling point.
VMware Workstation Player: Support
VMware offers support in the form of upgrades and technical assistance, but you have to pay for it separately. You can contact the company’s technical support team via live chat, phone and email.
VMware Workstation Player: The Competition
The best alternative to the VMware Player we recommend is VirtualBox. It is free and open source software (opens in new tab) compatible with Windows, Linux and macOS. You get full access to VirtualBox’s features without paying, unlike VMware Workstation Player.
We recommend going with VirtualBox if cost is a major concern as VMware’s licenses are expensive.
VMware Workstation Player: Final Verdict
With this software, you can easily create free VMs for personal use. It is quite complicated to set up and does not support the macOS operating system, but the VMware Workstation Player offers a lot of practicality for users.
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