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Two Fat Ladies

We have just seen the release of VMware Workstation 8 and the developer release of Windows 8. Both promise significant changes and improvement in usability.

As a fan of both of them in version 7; I was interested to see how these new versions are stacking up.

VMware Workstation 8

I have used Workstation since it’s public beta releases and have upgraded to every version since then paying my own cash; it is fair to say that I like this product. For me, it is VMware’s defining product and it is what made VMware cool.

Workstation does have competitors now; VirtualBox is an excellent product and is free; even VMware’s Player is probably sufficient for most people having gone beyond a mere Player into a useable desktop virtualisation tool for most people.

So why upgrade to Workstation 8? Well, I suspect in my case, it has become habit but 8 does have some significant improvements.

Firstly it can take advantage of the power of the new chipsets around; virtual machines can have up to 64GB of RAM and up to 8 virtual cores. It can also run 64-bit nested virtual machines for those of you who are simulating virtualised data-centres on your desktop. And there is a new UI; which is prettier, more useable and feels a bit snappier.

But the most significant improvement is the way that Workstation now integrates with vSphere and vCenter. From Workstation, you can connect to other VMware ‘servers’ and work with both local and server based VMs from within workstation. You can configure and install VMs from the Workstation console; for those of you with home-labs, this is really nice.

Workstation can also work as server and you can share your VMs with other Workstation users; another Workstation user can talk to your VMs and utilise them. Quicker and easier than copying them around the network. And yes, there are security controls that you can put in place.

You can copy a VM from your workstation to a vSphere server and have it instantiated there. Note that this is not a live migration and it is also one way. You cannot drag a VM back to Workstation to work on.

All in all, it’s a pretty solid release and an improvement on what has gone before.

Windows 8 Developer Preview

Microsoft have made available a Preview release for Windows 8; in theory aimed at developers, it is available to anyone. It comes with the new touch focused interface and a raft apps for you try. It also comes with developer tools obviously.

The new interface will be familiar to anyone who has seen or used a Windows Phone 7 and it is based on the Metro touch interface with live tiles which reflect the state of running applications.

The more familiar desktop is accessed as a app or comes up when you access an application which uses the Windows desktop. A familiar desktop with recycle bin, task bar and ‘Start’ button appears. But beware, the ‘Start’ button reopens the Metro-orientated Start screen again; the Start menu has gone.

I didn’t really get any further than a quick play and I can’t say that  I especially like the changes. I am not convinced that an interface designed for touch actually works especially well with a Mouse and Keyboard. I found the lack of Start menu driving me mad; I don’t want to be flung back to a full-screen menu when I’m firing up a new app; bringing up control panel etc, etc.

But I’m sure I’ll get used to it and start to find my way around.  I don’t like this release as much as I liked Windows 7 but it’s new interface and brave reboot by Microsoft.

Two Fat Ladies?

And to tie things altogether; I installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview into Workstation 8; there is no Windows 8 option yet but I believe that there was that option in the Workstation 8 beta, so it cannot be far off. The Windows 7 options work fine as long as you do a manual install; if you let Workstation try to do the install, it gets itself into an endless reboot loop.

So there we go;  Two fat ladies, Wobbly wobbly – All the eights….88

It was too good a title not to use, so sorry for any offence.

One Comment

  1. AFidel says:

    The other big release this week was Windows Server 8 Developer Preview with Hyper-V 3. You need MSDN to download it. There’s a lot of promise in it, and I think VMWare has a lot to worry about as it’s starting to look “good enough” for a lot of workloads.

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