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vmware playerWe’ve lavished attention on VirtualBox here at MakeUseOf, and for good reason. However, VirtualBox isn’t your only option for creating and using free virtual machines. VMware Player, VMware’s free product, is every bit as good as VirtualBox for many users. You may even prefer it to VirtualBox.

If you’re not sure what a virtual machine is, be sure to read What Is a Virtual Machine? What Is a Virtual Machine? What Is a Virtual Machine? Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems within your current operating system, but why does that matter? What are the pros and cons? Read More . We’ve also covered a list of creative uses for virtual machines 5 Creative Uses For A Virtual Box That You Probably Never Considered 5 Creative Uses For A Virtual Box That You Probably Never Considered Try out Android, Windows 8, any live CD and more, on your computer without messing up your bootloader (or worse.) With VirtualBox it's easy, if you think creatively. VirtualBox gives you an easy way to... Read More . You can even turn your current PC into a virtual machine Turn Your Old Mission-Critical PC Into A VM Before It Dies Turn Your Old Mission-Critical PC Into A VM Before It Dies If you’ve got an older PC running important software, one of the best ways to give that software a new lease of life is by ditching the hardware entirely – you can convert your existing... Read More  so you’ll have access to it even after it dies.

Player vs. Workstation

VMware Player runs on Windows and Linux. There’s no VMware Player for Mac OS X – VMware would prefer people use their paid Mac virtualization program, VMware Fusion. (Of course, if you’re a Mac user, you can always use VirtualBox for free instead.)

Player was originally intended as a barebones product for home users. While the first version didn’t even allow you to create your own virtual machines, VMware Player has grown more features over time. It now includes the ability to create virtual machines, install guest operating systems, and manage your virtual machines. You can modify the virtual machines’ hardware, although the paid VMware Workstation offers more settings. If you prefer not to do the dirty work yourself, you can download “virtual appliances” How To Try Out Wordpress, Joomla & More Quickly & For Free In a Virtual Machine With Bitnami How To Try Out Wordpress, Joomla & More Quickly & For Free In a Virtual Machine With Bitnami We've talked about setting up a local server before, but the process is still fairly complicated and there's lots of quirks and incompatibliities if you're trying to run it on Windows, leading to nothing but... Read More – pre-created virtual machines you’ll find online.

vmware player

Player also includes the ability to drag and drop files to and from the virtual machines to easily share them, enable 3D acceleration, use “Unity mode” to make windows from a virtual machine part of your host operating system’s desktop VirtualBox's Seamless Mode: Combine Two Operating Systems Into One Desktop VirtualBox's Seamless Mode: Combine Two Operating Systems Into One Desktop Read More , and do most of the other things the average home user would want to do with virtual machines.

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So what’s the catch? VMware Player can only be used for noncommercial purposes. It also lacks the ability to create “snapshots” and “clones” of a virtual machine. Some of the more advanced hardware settings are also not available. However, if you’re a home user that never uses these features in VirtualBox, you may want to give Player a try.

Why VMware Player?

Considering VirtualBox has more features on paper, why would anyone want to use VMware Player? It’s anecdotal, but I’ve found VMware Player to be easier to use, more compatible, and less buggy in the past. I’ve also found features like drag-and-drop file transfers and connecting USB devices easier to set up in VMware. The interface is a bit cleaner than VirtualBox’s – although it does offer a few less features.

VMware Player also has some nice features VirtualBox doesn’t have. Easy Install saves you time by automatically performing an unattended installation when you start installing a recognized operating system. For example, if you’re installing Windows 7 DOWNLOAD The Ultimate Windows 7 Guide DOWNLOAD The Ultimate Windows 7 Guide Read More in a virtual machine, VMware will ask you a few questions at the start of the installation and then complete the installation on its own, automatically answering the questions as appropriate.

vmware multiple operating systems

If you’re happy with VirtualBox, that’s fine – but if you encounter issues, you may want to try VMware Player instead. We haven’t seen any hard benchmarks comparing the two. It’s possible the one which is faster, more stable, and better all-around will depend on the hardware and operating systems you use.

Using VMware Player

Using VMware Player is simple. Click the Create a Virtual Machine link in the application and you’ll be prompted for an installer disc or an ISO file What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7 What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7 ISO files can be created from any CD or DVD you have lying around. They’re called "disc images" because they’re an exact image of a disc. An ISO file contains an exact representation of the... Read More . If VMware Player recognizes the disc and knows the operating system you’re installing, it will use Easy Install to quickly install the operating system. Enter the information and, once you get started, Alt+Tab Get More from Windows 7 ALT+TAB App Switching: Tricks You Didn't Know About Get More from Windows 7 ALT+TAB App Switching: Tricks You Didn't Know About There’s more to Alt+Tab than just pressing Alt+Tab to switch between windows. There are a variety of hidden keyboard shortcuts that make the Alt+Tab switcher quicker and easier to use. There are also ways to... Read More away from VMware Player or leave your computer for a while – VMware Player will handle the installation on its own. If Easy Install isn’t supported, you can install the operating system normally.

Before the installation starts, you’ll be able to customize the virtual hardware VMware Player is using. However, VMware Player will try to choose the best settings on its own, so you can probably leave the default settings alone.

vmware multiple operating systems

The operating systems you’ve installed will appear in the list in VMware Player’s main window. You can double-click a virtual machine to start it, as you would with other virtual machine programs. You can also modify the virtual machine’s hardware settings, although many settings can only be changed while the virtual machine is fully powered-off.

VMware Player has a fairly simple interface – you can use the options on the toolbar to activate full-screen mode, enable Unity mode (where a virtual machine’s window will appear directly on your main desktop), connect and disconnect USB devices from the virtual machine, and more.

vmware player

VMware Player and VirtualBox are both listed on our Best Windows Software page, where we collect the best applications we find for Windows. Take a look!

Which virtual machine program do you prefer? Do you use VMware Player, VirtualBox, or something else? Leave a comment to share your favorite and what makes it the best.

  1. Jonathan
    July 15, 2016 at 1:00 am

    This says nothing about running to machines at once...

  2. john
    April 7, 2015 at 5:35 am

    hi guys,,,can i run 2 OS simultaneously in vmware player?

  3. john
    April 7, 2015 at 5:32 am

    hi guys,,,can i run 2 OS simultaneously in vmware player?

  4. Marek S?owikowski
    April 3, 2013 at 2:43 am

    This review is very shallow. There is much more to be considered before we will install virtual machine. I have some experience with vmware v-box, hyper-v, virtual pc and xen. This is very "heavy" software not used for fun. In my opinio, Windows version of vmware Player is worst than linux version. As host, I am using lightweight linux distro so I can run "heavy" guests like Ubuntu Linux, Windows and even OSX, but this last for educational purposes. Apple does not allow to use OSX on hardware from other vendors.

  5. vineed gangadharan
    December 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    great article...Will it work with AMD system?

  6. Kulbhushan Mangle
    December 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I use "Windows Virtual PC" for Windows 7. The Advantage is that we can launch "Virtual Programs" from Windows Start Menu itself, without starting the whole Virtual Machine itself and you get licensed and fully installed "windows XP" virtual machine free with it... :)

  7. Alex Schnapps
    December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Windows 8 has a built-in Hyper-V. I use it and also VMware Player and VirtualBox too.

  8. avigot
    December 29, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I prefer VirtualBox because is open and free. VMware player is ONLY free ...

  9. Kieran Colfer
    December 29, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I've used both VMWare Player and Virtualbox in a production environment for a good while, and prefer Virtualbox. VMWare Player is good so long as you're installing one VM on one box and don't plan on backing it up/moving it around anywhere. Often though I end up having to create a VM on one machine and copy/move it to another machine - something that VMWare Player doesn't support. You can use Virtualbox though to export a VM to a nice compressed file (as in, a 10GB virtual machine only takes up the space used on the logical disk, so could compress down to ~4Gb) and then open it up on either VMWare Player or Virtualbox somewhere else. So, if you have a VM that you might want to snapshot/back up, then Virtualbox is better - and hey, they're both free anyway... :-)

  10. jess
    December 29, 2012 at 5:44 am

    I use virtualbox,I've tried with vmmare player but somehow it doesnt seem to work as good as virtualbox for me,with vmware player I just never could istall snow leopard in it,whereas with virtual box I had no problem whatsoever,i find it more intuitive and easier to use too

  11. Anonymous
    December 29, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Can I install Android on it?

    • avigot
      December 29, 2012 at 7:34 am

      I did, also if Android on a PC no touch screen look funny ...

  12. Rajaa Chowdhury
    December 29, 2012 at 2:37 am

    VirtualBox, VMware Player as both very capable virtualization solutions from Oracle and VMWare respectively. I personally prefer VirtualBox. Can you guys also do a article on Hyper V feature of Windows 8, if possible.

  13. Richard Steven Hack
    December 29, 2012 at 2:23 am

    The main reason to use VMWare Player is when you have a VM that's specifically for it and no VB version. There are ways to convert VMs between VB and VMW, I believe.

    Nothing wrong with having both available for convenience. It's not like they conflict - as long as you don't run VMs in both at the same time. That's not recommended as they both need to grab aspects of the host's hardware virtualization support and running both can crash the host.

  14. Chun Tat David Chu
    December 29, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I am using Virtual Box. No special reason though, it just happen that I encounter Virtual Box before aware of VM Player.

  15. Richard Borkovec
    December 28, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for this. I just got into using Virtual Box because elementaryOS has become too buggy for me to use daily, so I've been trying to find a more stable OS that has what I need. Will definitely look into this.

  16. Lee
    December 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I didn't know that VMWare Player could create virtual machines now. The last time I used it, you had to make the VM elsewhere and import it.

    I think I might still prefer VirtualBox though, just because it's what I'm used to.

    • Seppe
      December 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Vmware can make vms as long I can remember, I made my first in 2008 on VMWare player.

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