Long ago, VMware Player had considerably limitations, such as being able to "Play" existing VMs but not easily create them, I think a lot of folks went elsewhere for virtualization, never to return. Like Sun VirtualBox, for example, detailed head-to-head (based on older version) found here:
VMware Player is now misnamed really, it _can _also create VMs, as VMware mentions here:
VMware now calls VMware Player the Easiest Way to Play with Virtualization at the overview site:
The biggest drawback over the admittedly costly VMware Workstation is the loss of the snapshots and clones, but most casual users might not care, and manual copies (instead of clones) can be used, and you can still move these VMs to and from the free VMware Hypervisor ESXi 5.0 with ease, using the free VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0.
VMware Player 4.0.1 is now available for separate download here, for Windows or Linux, over here:
You may also want to check out the "System Requirements" page 7 here:
Getting Started with VMware Player
This brief article isn't intended to sell you on one virtualization product over another. I'm merely wishing to point out that VMware Player is indeed free and can create VMs.
As always, with any product you install, you should have a complete system backup, before you begin. And yes, you can run Windows 8 Developer Preview with VMware Player 4.01!