First install and still learning.
If I understood this right. I can run a self contained Virtual machine from a USB stick. Is this right? Where can i get info on how to do that.
Also, Is it possible to create a VM from my host OS? that is to say can I make a carbon copy with all installed software?
The VMware BIOS is not capable of booting USB Devices however you can use the Plop Boot Manager to accomplish it.
Creating a Virtual Machine of a Physical Machine or P2V can be done however if the OS on you Physical machine is an OEM version of Windows then you cannot legally transfer it to another system physical or virtual. Also if Windows and not an OEM version you need to has an addition Product Key or a VLK to run both the physical install and the Virtual Machine created of the Physical Machine.
Have a look at: VMware vCenter Converter
I was not considering Booting fromthe usb, just to be able to run a VM in a machine that does not have vmplayer installed. Is this viable?
As for the clone, I was thinking of creating a clone from the exisiting host to run on the host in a VM to be able to debug trial software.
you can not run a VMplayer virtual machine on a computer that does not have VMplayer installed.
yes - you can do that. Try to install VMware Converter 5 inside your host OS - launch it and tell it to import "this machine"