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From a Windows developer's perspective, which VM application is the best? Why?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by ϺОŞΣŞ, Kevin Panko, Mokubai, ncdownpat, Shekhar Nov 27 '13 at 20:47

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Don't forget virtual box - virtualbox.org –  Simon P Stevens Sep 23 '09 at 15:47
    
To be clear, is your host OS windows and you just want to run additional windows versions in VMs? –  studgeek Jun 23 '12 at 13:48

7 Answers 7

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Vmware Workstation -

Simply put, it does what I need, it works fast and I find that Snapshots are a time saver (and a God-send!). I have 2 VM's running 24x7 on my laptop, and even though I have a lot of programs open, my CPU averages around 3% on idle with it occasional touching 0%.

That being said, I know a lot of people prefer and use VirtualBox. I beleive that this also has some good snap-shotting stuff in it, however I cannot vouch for it as I only used it briefly on Linux.

When it comes down to it, I do not look at price if it is something I need work related - as long as it works and does what I need. I have had good experiences with VMware Workstation, it does what I need when I need it.

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Yes, VirtualBox also has a good snapshot feature. –  Brian Knoblauch Sep 23 '09 at 16:35
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The Vmware Workstation snapshot tree alone makes it worth the money to me. It's just amazingly useful. –  romandas Oct 2 '09 at 19:27

VMWare all the way for one simple reason, cross platform compatibilty of virtual machines. I like to move between machines a lot and work with many OS's. The flexibility and performance of VMware's product is awesome.

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I think VirtualBox should be on the list also since it has all of the main features folks have listed in other answers:

  • Full snapshot tree
  • Cross-platform
  • Lot's of networking options (including isolation)
  • "Seamless" mode for windowing (equivalent to VMWare Coherence and Parallels Unity)
  • USB port access

And its also free on all platforms. VMWare Workstation on Windows plus VMWare Fusion on OSX plus VMWare Workstation on Linux definitely adds up. You could use VMWare Player, but then you lose snapshots.

It is a little more work to setup and I personally have not spend much time comparing performance.

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If the Host OS is going to be Windows, I'm a pretty big fan of VMware Workstation/Player. It costs money, but has very good features (snapshots, networking isolation) that Virtual PC doesn't have.

Having said that - if you're just looking to spin up a bunch of test VMs, Virtual PC is perfectly adequate and works quite well, and is free. Virtual PC in Windows 7 is very good.

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Yeah, the snapshot feature in VmWare absolutely rocks. –  Simon P Stevens Sep 23 '09 at 15:46

One widely known problem with Virtual PC is that it often has troubles accessing the host USB ports. My choice is usually VMWare, but Virtual PC is free and, except for the USB issue, generally adequate and up to the task.

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Note that VPC is not an option if you need x64 support.

When testing "Windows Virtual PC" on Windows 7 I discovered that it doesn't support 64 guests at all!

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VMware Server

I run it on Linux for my development purposes, but it runs equally as well on Windows.

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VMware Server is not really a good development platform - It is a more "solid" virtualisation platform for reliability, but it does not have all the good features such as multi branch snapshoting. If you are using VMware Server, I highly advise you try Virtual Box if you do not want to spend money as your productivity can go through the roof! –  William Hilsum Sep 23 '09 at 20:22
    
VMware Server suits my needs perfectly fine. Sure, I could use more snapshots but I just back up the VMs as necessary. I regularly move VMs between VMware Fusion and VMware Server so VirtualBox isn't an option for me. –  EmmEff Sep 23 '09 at 21:16

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