A Comparison of Virtualization Programs

The following chart shows my assessment of the performance of these products on a single-machine platform. VMware Server is arguably overkill for such a configuration, but has to be considered as an option here because VMware Player cannot create virtual machines. So, VMware Player is too little and Server is too much. (sigh)


Microsoft VirtualPC 2004 * VMware Server 1.0.1 VMware Player 1.0.3 **
Impact on system resources:
 
Moderate
20MB download, 38MB installed.
Heavy
153MB download, 105 installed. Adds extra "network adapters" to host. Adds several system services to host, some of which may or may not start properly.
Moderate
30MB download, 30MB installed. Adds extra "network adapters" to host.
Coexistence:
Can application coexist with competitors?
Coexists with VMware Player
 
Does not coexist with VMware Player or VirtualPC
 
Coexists with VirtualPC
 
Creating a VM:
How easily can a VM be created and OS installed?
Excellent
Use host-shared files, virtual CD, and/or real CD/DVD.
Good
Use virtual and/or real CD/DVDs.
Not supported
Uses pre-existing VMs only.
Guest OS support:
What OS's can be used in a VM?
Fair
Non-Microsoft OS's not supported, though sometimes work.
Good
Supports a wide range of operating systems.
Good
Cannot create a VM, but can use whatever VMware Server creates.
Launching a VM:
How quickly can an existing VM be started?
Good
Must start VM via console. Console and each VM are in separate windows.
Fair
Must start VM via cumbersome console. Each VM launches in a separate tab within the console.
Excellent
VM can be specified in command line or desktop shortcut, making console optional.
Keyboard/mouse:
 
Fair
Some occasional jerkiness in response. *
Good
 
Good
 
USB support:
 
Not supported
Reminder: USB drives on the host can be mapped to folders via VMA. Other USB devices (scanners, cell phones, etc) are not supported.
USB1
 
USB1
 
Network connection:
 
Good
NIC traffic bypasses host's firewall.
Good
Broad network configuration possibilities, but requires skill to setup. Unfortunately, NIC traffic goes through host's firewall.
Fair
NIC traffic goes through host's firewall.
Virtual CD/DVD support:
 
CD images only
Does not support DVD iso images. (Note: does support real DVD disks in host's DVD drive.)
CD or DVD images
 
CD or DVD images
Iso cannot be swapped. Only supports iso image specified when VM was created.
CD/DVD ease-of-use:
How easy is it to swap virtual CDs?
Excellent
Simple drag-and-drop onto status bar icon.
Fair
Swapping CD images is buried in menus.
Not supported
Iso cannot be swapped. Only supports iso image specified when VM was created.
Floppy drive ease-of-use:
How easy is it to swap virtual floppies?
Excellent
Simple drag-and-drop onto status bar icon.
Fair
Swapping floppy images is buried in menus.
Not supported
Iso cannot be swapped. Only supports iso image specified when VM was created.
Drag-and-drop files between host and VM:
 
Supported
VMA must be installed.
Supported
VMware Tools must be installed.
Supported
VMware Tools must be installed.
Access to host folders:
Are files and folders on the host accessible from within the VM?
Excellent
VMA must be installed.
Fair
Must be done by networking to a network-shared folder on host.
Poor
Only if configured by VMware Server.
Virtual hard disk:
 
Fair
User cannot choose to split vhd file into segments.
Good
Vmdk file can be split into multiple files and spread across multiple host drives.
Not supported
Cannot create vmdk. Vmdk must be created by VMware Server.
Undoing disk changes:
How easy is it to revert the hard disk to a state saved earlier?
"Undo disk" option
With "undo disks" option enabled, session changes can optionally be discarded at the end of a session.
"Snapshot" option
Revert to a disk state saved earlier -- if you had the foresight to save the particular state you want.
(Not supported??)
 


* Virtual PC 2004 has been succeeded by version 2007. The new version adds marginally to the functionality shown in this chart. Keyboard/mouse response seems to have been tweaked a bit better.

** VMware Player 1.0 has been succeeded by version 2.0. The new version has a bigger footprint, and adds marginally to the functionality shown in this chart.

author: Dan Goodell

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