VMware says, “We’re not dead,” updates Fusion and Workstation for free

VMware says, “We’re not dead,” updates Fusion and Workstation for free


Enlarge /VMware Fusion 8.5 for Mac, with tab support.

Today, VMware announced upgrades to its desktop virtualization products for Windows, Mac, and Linux. But this time existing users won’t have to pay for the new software.

VMware and its rival Parallels have been charging for upgrades every year, and last year both companies required users to upgrade if they wanted VMWare and Parallels to fully support Windows 10. But none of the operating system changes this year are likely to break anything in last year’s virtualization software. This makes it hard to convince customers that they should pay again.

VMware has heard complaints from customers about the yearly paid upgrades. Customers say, “ah, geez, you’re going to charge me to upgrade every year because you added OS support,” according to VMware product line marketing manager Michael Roy. “We hear that loud and clear,” Roy told Ars.

As a result, VMware is releasing Fusion 8.5 for Mac and Workstation Pro 12.5 for Windows and Linux as free upgrades for users of versions 8 and 12, respectively. Both will have support for the Windows 10 Anniversary edition and Windows Server 2016. Fusion will support macOS Sierra hosts and guests. The new VMware software will be available September 8.

Workstation will get bug fixes and performance improvements, while Fusion will get bug fixes and Siri integration. Fusion will also get tabbed virtual machine windows so you can have multiple VMs in a single window, just like with Workstation.

While you’ll have to be on Fusion 8 or Workstation 12 customer to qualify for a free upgrade, VMware pricing will remain the same. The company is also extending reduced pricing to older versions of the software. Workstation 12 Pro costs $250, or $150 for users upgrading from Workstation 7 (released in October 2009) or higher.

VMware Workstation 12.5.

Enlarge /VMware Workstation 12.5.


Fusion costs $80, or $50 for anyone upgrading from Fusion 4 (released in September 2011) or higher. In previous years, customers only got reduced pricing if they were upgrading from one of the two previous editions. The professional version of Fusion that normally costs $200 is on sale for $160, with upgrade pricing temporarily cut from $120 to $80.

Workstation Player, a less powerful version of Workstation, is free for personal use. Commercial licenses are $150, or $80 if you’re upgrading from Player 6 (released in 2013) or 7.

Parallels, meanwhile, is charging for its annual upgrade again despite not adding any amazing new features to the core virtualization software.

VMware says, don’t worry about us

VMware users have had cause for concern since January when the company laid off developers in the hosted UI team responsible for Fusion and Workstation.

But “we’re very much alive and well” despite the staffing changes and pending merger of Dell and VMware owner EMC, Roy said. “We’re really excited about what we’ve got, we’re definitely not dead.”

The vSphere virtualization technology that powers VMware’s server and data center products is shared with the desktop virtualization tools, Roy noted. “Everything that is in vSphere, the work we do on the platform there we take that and port that to Linux, to Windows, and Mac,” he said.

Hosted UI developers are responsible for building the user interface on top of the virtualization technology. There’s still a hosted UI team in Beijing, while support is handled from India, and product management and development is handled from Palo Alto, California.

A lot of developers who formerly worked in UI have “moved further down the stack into the platform,” working on code that’s shared across VMware products, Roy said.

Fusion and Workstation won’t necessarily progress at the same pace, even though they share back-end technology. While VMware said Workstation 12.5 has performance improvements over version 12, the company promised no performance improvements for the new version of Fusion.

The Workstation improvements are related to DirectX on Windows hosts, which is why they didn’t come to the Mac-only Fusion, Roy said. He said it’s “hard to say” whether staffing levels contributed to the lack of performance improvements in Fusion 8.5, but he said the team is working on performance improvements for future versions.

VMware has had to make other compromises to save money. For example, Workstation 12 last year removed the Unity view for Linux host and guest operating systems. Unity lets applications in guest operating systems run in their own windows, as if they weren’t in a separate operating system at all. The removal of this feature means that Linux desktop users cannot run virtualized Windows applications in their own windows. It also means that virtualized Linux applications cannot run in their own windows. (Unity still works for Windows guests running on a Windows host, and for Windows guests running on Mac hosts with Fusion.)

Unity is “a very expensive feature in terms of the engineering cost to develop,” Roy said. For one example, Roy said that GTK (a toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces that’s used by many Linux desktops) changes quickly and is hard to keep up with.

“It’s an engineering resource that we could either dedicate to making [Unity] work or to work on other, more critical components,” Roy said.


via Ars Technica http://bit.ly/2ctTGPQ

August 30, 2016 at 01:05AM

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