VMware's desktop plan: On your command line, unleash hell!

Refreshed Workstation, Fusion, add network simulators, Win 10 fun, container-friendly APIs

VMware's refreshed its Workstation and Fusion desktop hypervisors, which are now in version 14 and 10 respectively.

To the jaded, cynical minds strapped to The Register's virtualization desk, the most eyebrow-raising new feature is a Network Latency Simulator in Workstation. The tool lets users unleash hell on virtual networks by adding latency or other unpleasant network conditions, the better to test how VMs will behave once they go to work in the real world.

Workstation's also been imbued with the ability to host Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Ubuntu 17.04 and Fedora 26. The upgrade can also emulate UEFI and the Windows Trusted Platform Module. It's also now possible to run Hyper-V inside a VM inside Workstation, which will be helpful for those working on Windows VMs.

The application's also been made better at swallowing VMs encoded as .OVF and . OVA files, to make it easier to work with the vCenter Server Appliance.

Another new feature is the addition of the ability to power on or off VMs tended to by vCenter or ESXi. This feature's been added to make Workstation a better remote management tool, in recognition of the fact that while vSphere's new HTML 5 interface is lovely, admins sometimes want more granular tools. The new feature also means that vAdmins can stay in Workstation for longer, instead of opening the new tool too.

Workstation 14's full version will cost $249.99 while the Player, designed as a way to run a VM on the desktop and without management powers, will cost $149.99.

Fusion, which runs on Macs, has gained an API that lets it be addressed programatically. This is important for VMware because plenty of developers work with Docker or Vagrant, but those tools go looking for Oracle's VirtualBox when building test environments. Adding an API to Fusion means Mac-wielding developers can now have those builds happen inside VMware's hypervisor if they so choose. That choice isn't free: Fusion Pro costs US$159 and the basic package is $79. VirtualBox is offered without consideration.

VMware's product line marketing manager Michael Roy also shed some light on the state of Workstation and Fusion, explaining that last year's layoffs of Stateside developers saw work shifted to a team in Beijing, China, that already contributed design work to the hypervisors. The team working on the tools remains the same size, he said.

Roy also said that VMware remains committed to the products because they are remain “relevant” to the company in two dimensions. The first is that VMware people use Workstation and Fusion themselves, indeed the product is a branch of vSphere. VMware customers also appreciate the product, making its continued evolution desirable. That demand creates the second point of relevancy: ongoing good margins.

Parallels universe

Another desktop hypervisor vendor, Parallels, has also chosen today to give the world a new product.

The company's popped out the 13th edition of Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac, adding the ability to add Windows applications to the Mac pro's Touch Bar, and to use the touch-sensitive panel within Windows applications. There's also a new picture-in-picture view that lets users see multiple VMs in their own Windows even while working in MacOS.

The company's also teased a Business Edition the company says “lets IT admins deliver, lock and secure an invisible Windows VM with selected applications to a user's Mac Dock.” Which sounds handy. ?


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