VMware Workstation Technology Preview 2012 (free VMware Player lives on)

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 14 2012 in
  • Virtualization
  • Windows
  • ESXi
  • You may remember my January 1st 2012 article:

    VMware Player is a free way to play with VMs:

    which reminded folks that the VMware Player product lives on. It lets you not only "Play" VMs, but create them as well. Because the name implies it's still a read-only offering (no longer true), so it may be overlooked when seeking out a free, full-featured virtualization, such as Oracle VirtualBox (many non-developer types don't use or require Workstation's snapshots feature).

    Well, VMware has released "VMware Workstation Technology Preview 2012," which I have now downloaded, installed, and I confirmed, it still includes VMware Player:

    VMware Workstation Tech Preview

    Back in 2011, VMware Workstation 8.0 was released with the bundled VMware Player 4.0, followed several weeks later by a standalone free VMware Player installer for everybody. That meant you could install the trial edition of VMware Workstation 8.0, but use only the VMware Player functionality during that trial.  Once Player was released as a stand-alone install during the trial period, you could uninstall the VMware Workstation/Player combination, reboot, then install VMware Player 4.0 standalone, and you now had continued to have access to all your VMs. You can use the free Player as long as you'd like.

    Based on this history, it's probably a good guess that the following will likely happen in 2012:

    • VMware 9.0 (called e.x.p build-646643 in the Technology Preview), or whatever they wind up calling it, will be released.
    • Within a month or two, the free VMware Player 5.0 (called e.x.p build-646643 in the Techology Preview), or whatever they wind up calling it, will be released, as a stand-alone installer.

    Based on the touted feature of running ESXi and Hyper-V (with this tweak), it may currently be your best bet for test/self-training datacenter arrangements at the moment, much like the presentation I made back in 2009, using Vista x64 and Workstation 6.5.2, "vSphere in a Box" Run vSphere on your laptop, to demonstrate and test vCenter, ESX4/ESXi4, VMotion, HA, and DRS.

    The issue is that we don't quite yet have the ability to use ESXi 5.0 Patch 02 to run Windows Server 8 Hyper-V to run a VM (double-nesting), a gotcha likely soon to be solved, and described at TinkerTry.com/windows-server-8-beta-hyper-v-runs-fine-on-esxi-5-0-patch-02.

    In the set of screenshots below, you can see:

    • I'm running the Technology Preview under Windows 7 64 bit
    • the vmware.exe and vmplayer.exe executables are still actually 32 bit binaries, as Task Manager clearly shows, but still has no relevance as far as the ability to run 64 bit OSs in your VMs
    • "Virtualize a Physical Machine" launches the Standalone VMware vCenter Converter Standalone client 5.0.0 build-470782 installer, which continues to let you move physical systems and Workstation/Player VMs into and out of ESXi 5.0