My history of using VMware Workstation
I was lucky enough to be invited by VMware to participant in the VMware Workstation (WS) 8 beta program. Being a long time user of Workstation I jumped at the chance to see the upcoming features of the next version of Workstation. Unfortunately part of the NDA of participating in the beta is that I can’t discuss the beta itself but it did make me thing back to when I first used WS.
I first used WS3 back in 2002, a co-worker asked me to come over and check out this new application he was using to setup demo environments. He had setup a demo Exchange 2000 environment on a stack of Servers running workstation in a lab at his home. Somehow he had managed to convince his Mrs to dedicate a room to the lab and put up with the loud noise and big power bills from the room. This was back when CPU, RAM and Disk were very limited and expensive so it wasn’t really possible to run more than one VM on even the more powerful computers so the only real option was to use a Server. I was very impressed and saw the possibilities immediately, so I did my first Windows 2000 install but quickly found that I simply didn’t have the hardware to run the guests properly, unlike my friend I didn’t have a stack of servers at home ready to go and my computer at the time barely could run Windows 2000 itself.
Fast Forward to 2006 and I got myself a VMTN subscription, the VMTN subscription licensed you to use one workstation and ESX for personal, test and demo’s purposes only. One of the worst decisions VMware ever made so to discontinue the VMTN subscription and block IT professionals access to license their products at home for training etc. So this is when I first really started to use Workstation, by this time it was possible to run two or more guests on even mid-range computers as long as they had enough RAM. This is also when VMware replaced GSX with VMware Server and made it free!
Since that time I have continued to use Workstation at home on my laptops, I also have a small lab with ESX installed but still prefer to run my test ESX hosts in workstation. Workstation continues to get features first before the other VMware products.
Ever wondered why when vSphere 4 was released the VM hardware version jumped from 4 to 7? Well at that time VMware also released WS7, ESX3.5 was using WS4 VM hardware type and with the release of vSphere VMware merged the hardware types. This also enabled WS7 and later releaase to run ESX as a supported guest. Xtravirt did publish a solution to allow ESX 3.5 to be run on WS6/6.5 but this required you to modify the vmx and trick WS into running ESX as a Redhat guest.