Microsoft's virtualization products vs. VMWare's offerings

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 5:01 PM
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So here's my latest dilemma. I live in SharePoint therefore I live in a virtual environment. I've been using Microsoft's virtualization products (VirtualPC & Virtual Server) for a few years now, but over time I've seen people swear over VMWare's products compared to Microsoft's.

Recently VMWare released Workstation 6 and plenty of folks are raving about its features including things like USB 2 support, multi monitors, advanced networking support, snapshots and support for 64 bit systems. People say the performance blows Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007 away, but they just SAY it, they don't prove it. The downside, it's $189 for those of us on Windows based systems. Then you've got their free Server product.

So, I'm tempted to give VMWare a shot. Hey, Workstation has a 30-day trial. I liked what I saw from Todd's personal tests in his blog post last year when MOSS was still in beta. While talking to my bud Sahil tonight on IM, he made a great point I fully agree with: I bet most MSFT developers haven't even tried anything except Microsoft's virtualization products. True… then again, they are free… why would you want to pay $189 for something when you've got a free equivalent?

There's one thing that I just can't get answered… will it work under my situation?

I work on two different machines. When working in my home office, I work off my server. Today, that means I work from virtual machines running Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 R2. This runs on top of Windows Server 2003 R2 x64 SP2 with a dual code AMD x64 chip (each core @ 2Ghz), 4GB RAM, and a dedicated HDD just for my VM's… one of those beautiful Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drives. When I go remote, teach, or present, I copy my VM hard drives over to my x32 laptop running Microsoft VirtualPC 2007 on Vista Ultimate which has one of those 2Ghz Centrino Core Duos, a separate 7200RPM drive for virtual machines, and 4GB of RAM (only 3.25GB available to the OS… typical hardware limitations). This setup runs just fine. Why change? Because if I can squeeze out more performance, I'm all for it (and some of the features Workstation has are quite appealing)!

So… can you do the same with VMWare? Can you run VMWare Server (not ESX) on one box and copy the VM's over to run off VMWare Workstation? OK, assuming you can…

What do you think? Let's try some open feedback here which I'll aggregate it as a follow up post. What do you like more… VMWare or Microsoft's virtual products? What about performance? Anyone seen some good 3rd party comparisons? It's too bad neither company (EMC which owns VMWare & Microsoft) does a poor job of selling their product when comparing it to their competition. Same for third party sites like CNET or eWeek… not a single comparison! Arg.

So… what do you like more and WHY? Please, don't post some meaningless “Virtual Server doesn't work on Vista” or “Virtual PC sucks”… they won't get approved. Let's have a REAL discussion!

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