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VMware Workstation 11 Will Support Windows 10 Tech Preview

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

It's been 15 years since VMware first released its desktop hypervisor, Workstation 1.0, and each version since then has introduced features that kept the product up to date with the technologies of the time. This week, VMware announced the upcoming release of Workstation 11, and with it the company will introduce updated guest OS support, cloud-enabling features, and virtual hardware updates that bring the product up to today's technical standards.

VMware Workstation touches on the needs of tech professionals across the IT organization, including developers, administrators, sales people, and trainers. Designed to support one to several virtual machines (VMs), VMware Workstation allows technical end-users to build out virtualized test machines, sales presentation tools, or scaled down production environments, all running on a single computer.

Two new significant features to point out about VMware Workstation 11 are its Windows 10 Tech Preview readiness, and its ability to run virtual machines, not just on local or data center environments, but in a public cloud as well.

With Microsoft's recent announcement of the upcoming Windows 10 operating system, Workstation 11 users will be able to install, evaluate and test the new desktop OS preview once it becomes generally available. VMware Tools, a packaged software toolkit used to support virtualized video, networking and other driver related functions in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 Tech Preview machines running on VMware Workstation, will be available at release time in December. In an email from VMware, the company has stated that it will support Windows 10 as best as it can, but warns that since the Windows 10 Tech Preview program is pre-release software, OS updates made by Microsoft may affect stability. However VMware said it would keep its eyes and ears open for feedback via its support channel or VMware community forums.

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For those interested in trying out the Windows 10 Tech Preview with the current VMware Workstation 10 version, the company posted a blog on how to install it, while also pointing out a few problems related to the Start menu and the TaskView functions.

The second important feature for Workstation 11 is the ability to manage and run virtual machines in VMware vCloud Air cloud service. The current version of VMware Workstation supports running VMs on the local and in VMware vSphere infrastructure, but with this new version, Workstation 11 users are not restricted to on-premise resources, and are now able to share VMs with remote team members using the same cloud services. File conversions are transparent to the VMware Workstation user when transferring VMs from a local computer to either of the cloud environments, streamlining a process that used to be a manual procedure in earlier versions of the Workstation product.

Additional features in VMware Workstation include DPI Pass-Through, letting VMs adapt behavior inherent to mobile devices that use high resolution touch screens, and Virtual EFI support which provides a flexible pre-OS environment that also makes it easier to boot off of larger disks and USB devices. One last minor feature, though an interesting one, are VM shortcuts, which let users put a Windows shortcut on their Windows desktop that is directly linked to their locally hosted VMs or those virtual instances hosted on the local on-premise vSphere infrastructure, cutting out the usual steps required when having to start a VM from the Workstation management interface. Support for shortcuts to vCloud Air instances won't be available at release time, but in a correspondence with VMware, the company said it will gather feedback for the feature, improve it, and possibly add support for vCloud Air shortcuts in the future.

The updated Workstation product requires a 64-bit Linux or Windows host OS and 64-bit processors such as Intel's Haswell and Broadwell CPUs, to run. Even though Workstation 11 is dependent on these 64-bit resources, 32-bit guest operating systems are still supported. VMware also recommends 4 GB of RAM, and 1.2 GB of disk space to install the application. Beyond that, additional memory and disk space will be required for each VM created in Workstation 11.

As for guest operating systems, VMware Workstation 11 will continue to support the same current OSes Workstation 10 supports. Newer additions to the list will include, Windows 10 Tech Preview, Ubuntu 14.10, RHEL 7, CentOS 7, Debian GNU/Linux 7, OpenSUSE 13.2, SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, Fedora 21 and Solaris 11.2. As for hypervisor within hypervisor (aka, nesting) support, VMware only officially supports vSphere, but you can still run other hypervisors, like Microsoft's Hyper-V, in Workstation 11.

Maximum specs for VMware Workstation 11 VMs include: 16 vCPUs, 8 TB virtual disks, and 64 GB of memory. For graphics-intensive applications, 2 GB of video memory can now be allocated for additional workload processing power.

VMware Workstation 11, available in December, 2014, will cost $249. Anyone buying Workstation between October and December will receive a free upgrade. Upgrading from Workstations 9 and 10 after the free offer will cost $149.