What's New in the VMware Workstation Technology Preview July 2013

Version 6

    The VMware Workstation team is excited to announce the VMware Workstation Technology Preview - May 2013 release!  As usual, this Technology Preview includes many changes to VMware Workstation that we would like your feedback on.  With this preview, VMware would like your help ensuring that VMware Workstation stays ahead of the industry and continues to set the standard for all desktop virtualization products.

    In rare circumstances, it might be necessary to recreate a virtual machine created in this Technology Preview in a subsequent version of the product.  This Technology Preview includes changes to the underlying virtualization platform, which is under active development. There are no guarantees that changes in this preview will be forward compatible with other VMware software, nor that these changes will be present in future supported releases of VMware Workstation.



    To run this Technology Preview, you must uninstall previous versions of Workstation before installing this software.  Please note that the drivers included in this preview have NOT been signed and will prompt you accordingly during installation.

    The system requirements for this Technology Preview are the same as those for Workstation 8 and Workstation 9.

    Processor - The host system must have a 64-bit x86 CPU that meets the following requirements.

    • LAHF/SAHF support in long mode
    • 1.3GHz or faster core speed

    Multiprocessor systems are supported.

    When you install Workstation, the installer performs checks to make sure the host system has a supported processor. You cannot install Workstation if the host system does not meet the processor requirements.
    Processor Requirements for 64-Bit Guest Operating Systems

    The operating system that runs inside a virtual machine is called the guest operating system. To run 64-bit guest operating systems, the host system must have one of the following processors.

    • An AMD CPU that has segment-limit support in long mode
    • An Intel CPU that has VT-x support

    If you have an Intel CPU that has VT-x support, you must verify that VT-x support is enabled in the host system BIOS. The BIOS settings that must be enabled for VT-x support vary depending on the system vendor. See the VMware knowledge base article at http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1003944 for information about how to determine if VT-x support is enabled.
    When you install a 64-bit operating system, Workstation performs checks to make sure the host system has a supported processor. You cannot install a 64-bit operating system if the host system does not meet the processor requirements.

    Memory - The host system must have enough memory to run the host operating system, the guest operating systems that run inside the virtual machines on the host system, and the applications that run in the host and guest operating systems.
    The minimum memory required on the host system is 1GB. 2GB and above is recommended.

    Disk - it is recommended that you have several gigabytes of disk space available to install Workstation and create Virtual Machines.

    Graphics - To support Windows 7 Aero graphics in a virtual machine, at least 3GB of host system memory is required. 1GB of memory is allocated to the guest operating system and 256MB is allocated to graphics memory.
    To support Windows 7 Aero graphics, the host system should have either an NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT or later or an ATI Radeon HD 2600 or later graphics processor.


    Operating System - VMware Workstation will run on many different operating systems.  For this Technology Preview, we would like you to try as many of them as you can but preferably using the following operating system versions or later.

    • Windows XP SP3, Windows 7, Windows 8 (and Windows 8.1)
    • Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012
    • Ubuntu 10.04 and later
    • OpenSUSE and SUSE Linux 11.2 and later
    • CentOS 5.8 and RHEL 5.8 and later



    To uninstall the VMware Workstation Technology Preview:

    1. Uninstall VMware Tools from each virtual machine used with the Technology Preview
    2. Ensure all virtual machines are downgraded to be compatible with an earlier version of VMware Workstation (VM > Manage > Change Hardware Compatibility...)
    3. Exit the VMware Workstation Technology Preview
    4. Remove VMware Workstation Technology Preview via standard application uninstallation procedures


    Goal of the VMware Workstation Technology Preview
    The VMware Workstation Technology Preview includes changes to the core virtualization engine, a new VMware hardware version and new capabilities we are exploring. The objective of this Technology Preview is to gather feedback from users on a wide range of hardware and software configurations.

    We would especially appreciate feedback in the following areas:

    • Installing Workstation and creating and running Virtual Machines using the latest operating systems - Windows 8, Windows 8.1 (Blue), Ubuntu 13.04, Fedora 18, OpenSUSE 12.3, 13.1, RHEL 7, CentOS 6.4...
    • Pushing the limits of the latest virtual hardware with 16 vCPUs, 8 TB virtual disks, new virtual SATA drives, latest USB improvements and more...
    • Running Restricted virtual machines with an expiration date, time, various synchronization frequencies and lease periods
    • Testing applications designed to run on tablets (specifically the Surface Pro) in a Virtual Machine and ensuring that accelerometers, orientation sensors etc. work as expected
    • Converting physical machines to virtual machines
    • Uploading and downloading VMs to and from vSphere
    • Graphics performance and multi-monitor support
    • Running Virtual Machines in the VMware-KVM user interface
    • Embedded 30-day Licensing feature
    • General stability, application compatibility and usability


    Please post your feedback in the Workstation Technology Preview 2013 community forum.  Our Product Management, Engineering, Quality Assurance, Documentation and Management are all interested in what you uncover!


    What's New


    New OS Support - From our customers using Workstation who have opted in to share information with us we know that the popularity of Windows 8 is growing (at least as far as evaluating it in a virtual machine).  We have been running the latest 8.1 version since the day it was released and are continuing to improve our support for it.  We would appreciate your comments and suggestions for making it easier to run Windows 8 / 8.1 in a virtual machine.  Of course we are running the latest Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, OpenSUSE and other Linux distros as well and we would appreciate your feedback on their performance too.

    VMware Hardware Version 10 - This Technology Preview introduces hardware Version 10.  Hardware versions introduce new virtual hardware functionality and new features while enabling VMware to run legacy operating systems in our virtual machines.

    16 vCPUs - In this Technology Preview VMware Workstation is shipping Hardware Version 10 and has enabled our users to create and run virtual machines with up to 16 virtual CPUs.  Please let us know how this performs running your workloads.  We have run CPU benchmarks, encryption/decryption and encoding/decoding programs to characterize the performance, but we are interested in what results you get running other applications.

    Note: Running Virtual Machines with 16 vCPUs requires that both your host and guest operating system support 16 logical processors.  Your physical machine must have at least 8 cores with hyper-threading enabled to create and power on a VM with this configuration.


    8 Terabyte disks - Virtual Disks can now add virtual disks greater than 2 Terabytes.  There are some considerations, you cannot use the Buslogic controller for anything greater than 2TB and these large disks are tricky to setup as boot disks since your guest operating system would need to boot using EFI in order to read a GPT formatted disk which is required to access all of the sectors on a disk of this size.


    Virtual SATA Disks - Disks can now be configured as SATA in addition to IDE and SCSI.  This enables use of in box drivers for certain operation systems.  We have not yet characterized the performance of SATA vs SCSI virtual disks and are interested in your feedback on which one you prefer and why.


    USB Improvements - In Workstation 9, VMware added support for USB 3 devices.  Most devices worked, but not all of the specification was fully implemented and we have found some issues with certain chipsets.  We have been working on enabling streams which allows very large files to be transferred between USB 3 storage devices (that support streams) and the virtual machine at a very high rate of speed.  Please give this a try and let us know if your devices work.    We have also encountered issues when plugging in USB 2 devices into USB 3 ports and having them available in the VM (specifically iPods).  Please try connecting your USB 2 devices to your virtual machines via the USB 3 port.


    More VMnets - Due to customer demand we have doubled the number of VMnets in Workstation to allow more complex networked environments to be built and to reduce the likelihood of adding a virtual machine to a closed/secured/infected network.


    SSD Passthrough - Windows 8 is capable of detecting when it is being run from a solid state drive (SSD) and optimizes itself for this hardware.  In this Technology Preview, Workstation can detect when the Virtual Machine Disk file is being stored on an SSD drive and pass this information to the guest operating system to enable Windows 8 to make the same optimizations when it is running in a virtual machine.

    Many additional changes have been made to this Hardware Version including some performance improvements, power savings and compatibility with new processors.  We would like you to put this Hardware Version and the latest VMware virtualization platform through its paces to help us make it production ready.


    Expiring Virtual Machines - VMware has enhanced the capabilities of Restricted Virtual Machines to include the ability to expire the virtual machine on a certain date and time.  The intent of this feature is to enable our customers to create virtual machines to be shared with employees, students, customers, contractors etc. that will run until they self-destruct!

    This feature establishes a secure connection to a web server at VMware.com or a server of your choice to validate the current date and time and prevent users from rolling back the clock on their host machine to avoid expiration.

    We have also added the ability to set the synchronization frequency to control the load on the network and a lease period to allow users to run expiring virtual machines while offline.

    Please give this feature a try and let us know how it works and if you find a way to beat the expiration logic.


    Virtual Tablet Sensors - If you happen to be experimenting with one of the new Windows tablets or writing applications to run on them, then we would appreciate you giving our new virtual GPS, Accelerometer, Inclinometer, Compass, Gyrometer, and Ambient Light sensor a try.  If you run Workstation on a Windows 8 tablet and install Windows 8 in a VM, then all of the applications that you run in the guest should respond correct to the tablet inputs...  so give your tablet a shake, twirl, tilt, spin and take it for a ride and let us know if your applications respond the same way in a VM as they do when they are installed natively.

    New Converter - This Workstation Technology Preview includes a preview of the next version of VMware Converter.  The Converter enables users to make Physical machines virtual.  This version of the Converter includes support the following enhancements:

    • Guest operating system support for Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012
    • Guest operating system support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
    • Support for virtual and physical machine sources with GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks
    • Support for virtual and physical machine sources with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)
    • Support for EXT4 file system
    • Support for vSphere 5.1 virtual machine hardware version 9


    Pre-Released OVFTool - The Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) is a virtual machine distribution format that supports sharing virtual machines between products and organizations.  The VMware OVF Tool is a command-line utility that enables a user to import and export OVF packages to and from a wide variety of VMware products.

    The latest pre-release version of the OVFTool is included in this Technology Preview of VMware Workstation and is used by Workstation to upload and download virtual machines to and from vSphere.  The OVFTool is also used to import an .OVF file which may come in handy when importing virtual machines created using desktop virtualization software developed by Oracle.

    We would appreciate your help in ensuring that the import, export, upload and download capabilities of Workstation have improved and in testing the import of VMs generated in VirtualBox.


    VMware-KVM - Many of our customers have asked for a way to run a virtual machine so that their employees or students do not realize they are in a VM!  In this preview we have included a new executable (on Windows only for now) that does just this.  Run vmware-kvm.exe vmx-file.vmx from the command line and your VM will fire up in full screen with no toolbar or any other indicator that you are running a VM.  You can use Ctrl-Alt to ungrab from the VM and the Pause/Break key to toggle between multiple virtual machines running under VMware-KVM.  The user experience should be just like that of using a KVM switch - hence the name.


    If you simply type vmware-kvm.exe from the command line you will get some options that can be used in this format vmware-kvm.exe [OPTIONS] vmx-file.vmx.  If you run vmware-kvm.exe --preferences you will presented with an interface that allows you to configure certain behaviors - such as the key used to cycle betwen virtual machines.  We would like to have enabled pressing scroll lock twice to toggle, but Windows makes this very difficult and since we aren't a hardware KVM we had to make a compromise.


    Some of you may remember an executable called VMware-fullscreen.exe that previously shipped with Workstation.  This is the latest generation of this feature with a major upgrade in display handling.

    User Interface Enhancements:

    There are other small changes that have been included in this release that you may discover and we are continuing to add more features but here are a couple of items that you may come across:


    Windows 8 Unity Mode Support - We are continuing to improve on how our Unity Mode user-interface works with Microsoft's "Modern UI" or the "Microsoft Design Language" (The new tile interface in Windows 8 formerly known as Metro).  We have made some improvements and would like to know what you think!


    Multiple Monitor Navigation - When running with 2, 3, 4 and even 5 or 6 monitors it has been frustrating to use the full screen mode in Workstation and toggle through each combination of monitors to get to the one you want.  The fullscreen toolbar now has an option to choose your configuration and jump to it immediately.


    Power Off Suspended Virtual Machines - I am sure that this has happened to you as often as it happens to me.  You want to change the configuration of a virtual machine in your library that you use all of the time.  You open up the virtual machine settings dialog and everything is greyed out because the virtual machine is currently suspended.    Instead of powering on the virtual machine and waiting for it to boot up before powering it down to make the changes, the Technology Preview lets you simply power off the suspended Virtual Machine (as long as you don't care about what is in its memory).


    Remote Hardware Upgrade - When working with virtual machines running remotely on vSphere or on another instance of Workstation, you can now remotely upgrade the Hardware version.


    30-day evaluation - Finally we are experimenting with shipping a 30-day trial of Workstation that is activated simply by typing in your email address the first time you run Workstation.  If you enter a license key during installation or if you previously had a key installed that hasn't expired, then you should not see this dialog.  New evaluators or users installing on a clean machine, should be able to enter their email address and be up and running a full version of Workstation for 30-days.  Our objective is to simplify the evaluation process and make it easier for potential customers to try Workstation (most of them end up buying!).  This step elimnates the problems we have had registering on VMware.com or with license keys being trapped by spam filters etc.  Please give this a try and let us know what you think.... and if you find a way to easily beat it!


    We really appreciate your help in testing this software.  Please post all of your feedback in the VMware Workstation Technology Preview 2013 communities forum.  We will try to answer any questions that you have and will investigate any issues that you find.


    Please also post any other comments you may have on how we can improve these currently implemented features or enhancements that you would like to see in future releases.


    Thank you!


    The VMware Workstation Team