VMware, VirtualBox, Virtual PC and other desktop virtualization software are well known among tech people, but most of the normal users do not have idea about them. So they are missing the all advantages of these desktop virtualization software products. If you are new to virtualization environment or thinking why to use these products or what are the advantages from them, this article explains them with basic points.
Desktop virtualization software such as VMware (VMware Player), Oracle VirtualBox and Microsoft Virtual PC are freely available for home users. So, these applications can be used by everyone without any cost. Before go further, let me clear a myth which is ‘more technical knowledge required to use desktop virtualization products’. Believe me!, it is very easy and simple. As long as you do not required high-end complicated setup in virtual environment, these products can be used well by all computer users.
The Purpose of Desktop Virtualization Software
Desktop virtualization software give ability to install and run multiple Operating Systems on your desktop or laptop computer in virtual environment without disturbing the host OS. You can have Windows XP, Linux OS and even Windows 95 on your latest Windows 7 laptop. In this case, your laptop will be the ‘host’ and virtual machines will be the ‘Guest’s. Creating or configuring a virtual machines is very similar to assembling a physical computer with processor, memory, hard disk, VGA…etc. So it is basically to utilize the unused resources on a physical computer to run multiple Operating Systems in it. Even though ‘Dual Boot’ is another option to have multiple Operating Systems on a computer, but you have to reboot the computer every time to use other Operating Systems. But with the desktop virtualization software, you can run and work on multiple Operating Systems simultaneously without rebooting.
The main and basic purpose of Desktop virtualization software VMware, VirtualBox and Virtual PC is to allow users to run multiple different type of Operating Systems simultaneously in complete isolated virtual environment on single physical computer .
The below screen shot was taken while I was running latest Windows 8 as a guest virtual machine in VMware Player on my Windows XP computer.
1) Multiple Operating Systems at a time without restarting the single computer.
2) Completely isolated virtual environment from host OS. Therefore no risk involved in virus, malware or any kind of threat spreading from guest to host machines, except thorough network or USB flash drive transfer.
3) You can run your old legacy applications and Operating systems on your latest computer. Let’s say you bought a latest Windows 7 laptop recently and now you like to run your old important legacy application which will not work on Windows 7. Here comes virtualization software… Just setup a Windows XP or older versions of OS by VMware/VirtualBox/Virtual PC then install your legacy application and use it.
4) Snapshot Feature, which helps to restore the virtual machine back and forth to a specific date/time. For example, today you can take snapshot of a virtual machine and if tomorrow something goes wrong with that particular virtual machine, do not worry, you can restore the virtual machine to previous day’s state by snapshot feature.
Even though there are more advantages on desktop virtualization software, I think the above four points will good understanding for beginners about VMware, VirtualBox, Virtual PC and other desktop virtualization software.
How to Use Them
As I said earlier, it is easy and not complicated as you think.
Find out some existing articles on sysprobs to install different types of Operating Systems as guest virtual machine. The below guides show the steps to create and configure guest virtual machines on host computer.
The above all installation methods are demonstrated on my Intel PC with Windows XP and Windows 7.
Also, Sysprobs published couple of comparison among VirtualBox, VMware and Virtual PC. Visit the below links and get some ideas to decide which is the best and suitable desktop virtualization software for you.