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I am used to using VMWare Workstation - and have been very happy with it. I have been using it for sandboxing programming environments and testing. I am now in an environment where we must use Microsoft technology.

I see MS has Virtual PC - which seems to be free. I have the discs for Virtual Server R2 Enterprise Edition - but I am really just looking for a workstation product.

Binging (yeah, I know, I am being brainwashed) shows Virtual PC as a free download, which may explain why it is not in our software library.

Is the MS alternative to VMWare. Am I missing something - a professional workstation application? I have an uphill battle, but I am thinking of campaigning to get licensed for VMWare... Can anyone share experiences?

In case it helps, the features that I really took advantage of in VMWare Workstation included Snapshots, ACE, Powershell...

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 8 '09 at 23:57

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I am surprised to see votes to close this question due to it belonging on serverfault or superuser. I do frequent serverfault as well, but in this case I am specifically looking for programming environment desktop environment. –  aSkywalker Dec 8 '09 at 21:56
    
If you left out the word "programming", this question would still be equally valid for any other purpose that needs a workstation level VM. –  Greg Hewgill Dec 8 '09 at 23:59
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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can still run VMWare on Windows. Their latest VMWare player is free and you can reuse images that you have previosly created and actually latest player allows you to create new ones and then use ISO files to install OS. You can also look at VirtualBox from Sun - it's awesome, I really like it

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+1 for VirtualBox -- it is more full-featured than Windows Virtual PC and supports much better integration of non-MS operating systems (i.e. Linux) –  Guy Starbuck Dec 8 '09 at 21:37
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I suggest sticking with VMWare Workstation. We use Workstation and ESXi and have yet to find a better alternative.

Virtual PC is the Microsoft equivalent of the free VMware Player, as far as I'm aware Microsoft doesn't provide any serious virtualization offerings for the desktop user. The focus is on Hyper-V for server side. If you're doing commercial software development and take advantage of the additional features in Workstation, the price is insignificant compared to the productivity savings you'll achieve (when compared to the free offerings such as Virtualbox, VirtualPC, VMware Server, etc.)

Basically, if you don't use any of the advanced Workstation features targeted at developers/testers/QA then there are plenty of alternatives. If you do, then stick with campaigning for Workstation :)

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Virtual PC is the Microsoft 'equivalent' to VMWare Workstation.

In my experience, unless you're running Windows inside Virtual PC...the performance is definitely lacking compared to VMWare Workstation.

Not sure it's a possibility since you're trying to go all Microsoft, but Sun has a sweet open source VM platform called VirtualBox which, in my experience, out-performs both VMWare Workstation and Virtual PC.

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When you compare the features it's more of an equivalent to VMware Player (especially with the latest updates to Player) –  saschabeaumont Dec 9 '09 at 3:15
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Virtual PC - is really lacking if you need to run *nix virtual machine. They run - but slower. Surprisingly Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of features. Also keep in mind the latest version of Virtual PC runs only on windows 7. At least for now.

If you want a dedicated dev box - I would go with Xen ( free version) - it runs on bare metal - free and will work fine if you have an "ok" machine spare.

But if you want to run it on your own dev machine - go fot Virtual Iron. It backed by Sun. Runs fast. Supports a lot of systems. And runs on Win, Mac and *nix

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If he's required to use Microsoft technology, I doubt *nix is a concern ;) –  saschabeaumont Dec 9 '09 at 3:16
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I was completely confused lately as to how Virtual PC is being sold at this point.

AFAICT, it's no longer sold or even offered for Windows 7, unless you have Pro, in which case you can freely use Virtual PC for XP.

But beyond that, I was lost. Maybe there is an official Windows 7 version of Virtual PC? I couldn't find it.

After trying VMWare and losing the fight against it's web based UI I tried VirtualBox and couldn't be happier. Open source. And works. Really well.

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It is good to hear I am not totally alone. I am trying to fit in with this all Microsoft environment - but their VM solution seems a little confused. I am running a brand new high end Windows 7 machine, but calling it 'Virtual PC for XP' is hardly the programming sandbox I had in mind. –  aSkywalker Dec 8 '09 at 21:58
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Web-based UI? That's not VMware Workstation. Web based is VMware Server. For a free solution VMware ESXi is much better than VMware Server :) –  saschabeaumont Dec 9 '09 at 3:18
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