My thoughts on VMware Workstation 8

There hasn’t been much hoopla about it yet, but VMware released Workstation 8 (and Fusion 4, but I don’t own a Mac) today. If you have Workstation 7 currently, the checking for software updates from within Workstation will not find the new release. You’ll need to head over to VMware’s website to get it.

One of the nice things that I noticed while installing Workstation 8 was that the amount of reboots have been minimized. With Workstation 7, it took two reboots to get it fully installed. The only time I had to reboot for the Workstation 8 install was after Workstation 7 was uninstalled, so that the 8 installation could move forward.

Workstation 8 connected to vCenter 5

There are a couple of features that have me pretty excited about this release. The first one is the ability to run nested 64bit guests — 64bit guests running inside vSphere running inside Workstation, as an example. This is exciting to me because it really opens up a lot of possibilities for home lab folks. This also means that you can now run Hyper-V within vSphere on Workstation. I find that appealing because I’d like to know more about Hyper-V from a technical point of view, if for nothing more than just a better understanding of the virtualization ecosphere.

The second exciting feature is the ability to connect to remote hosts such as Workstation, vSphere, or vCenter from within Workstation. You can now drag and drop VMs from Workstation right into vCenter! Of course, connecting Workstation to vCenter doesn’t give you any vCenter level management capabilities (such as hosts/clusters, networking, or storage), but you can see the VMs that are running on vCenter and do a bit of management as well. Since there are no vCenter capabilities within Workstation, you can’t vMotion or svMotion your VMs, but you do have most of the vSphere Client console functionality, including things such as editing VM settings, snapshots, power operations, and removable device connectivity.

The third exciting feature is the ability to import the vMA 5 & vCenter Server appliances into Workstation. With Workstation 7, the import would fail. I don’t know the specifics of why, but I assume that there were changes in the OVF format that 7 just couldn’t read.

There’s a whole host of other great things in Workstation 8 such as improved UI, integration of Converter Standalone, Bluetooth & USB3.0 support for VMs, to name a few.

With regards to licensing, if you have a Workstation 7 license (either purchased or through the VCP 4 certification), it won’t work on Workstation 8. That means you’ll need to upgrade one way or another. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been any word on whether or not a VCP 5 certification will come with a complimentary Workstation 8 license, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t. If you don’t or can’t purchase an upgrade license, your options at this point are to go with the 30 day evaluation license, or stick with running your Workstation VMs on VMware Player. An unlicensed copy of Workstation 8 will not power on VMs.