At a Glance
- Supports all OSs; drag and drop of files
- Slow performance under Windows 7
Use virtual machines without creating them with this free virtualization software.
VMware’s free VMware Player is all most users need to enter the
world of virtual computing. Like Oracle’s VirtualBox, and
XP mode or Microsoft’s free Virtual PC 2007,
it will run almost any operating system ever invented: DOS, Windows
3.1, XP, Linux, Unix, etc. There are also plenty of VMs (appliances
in VMware vernacular) available both at the company’s Web site and
other places online.
As of version 3, VMPlayer also lets you create your own virtual
machines. Formerly, it was only what its name would indicate–a
player of existing machines. You had to either download a VM,
create one with the free server version, or jump though a lot of
hoops with some free utilities to create one. VWware supports a
wide variety of USB hardware, and allows you to to drag and drop
files from the host PC (the PC on which your running VMware Player)
to and from the VMs–a feature that has made it a favorite over the
Sadly, in my ongoing tests under Windows 7, VMware performance
has taken a major hit from what I experienced under XP. The lags
while VMs, windows, and menus open–and the continual grinding of
the hard drive–is wearing on the nerves and patience. This is on
the same physical PCs with fast Core 2 Duos and 3GB/4GB of memory
that the VMs ran perfectly fine on under XP. It’s bad enough that
I’ve switched to VirtualBox.
VMware Player is still the slickest free VM software around, and
the company claims they’ve had no other reports of reduced
performance under Windows 7. Perhaps it’s the SSDs or some other
quirk on my systems. The program is free, so download it and if it
performs well for you–enjoy it.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor’s site,
where you must register to download the software.
–Jon L. Jacobi