Windows Virtual PC or VMware Player: the real-life choice

I’m planning to switch from Windows 7 RC to the retail version on my desktop PC. I started wondering which version would I choose.

Theoretically there are 3 choices: Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. However, the price difference between Professional and Ultimate is only 12 euros, so I can choose between Home Premium (183 EUR) and Ultimate (294 EUR).

The biggest advantage of Ultimate over Home Premium is the Virtual PC and XP Mode. I use it to access my old scanner via USB (there are no 64-bit drivers) and play around with Active Directory and servers in my Windows 2003 test lab. Even though those come for free, in reality I have to pay 110 euro for the Virtual PC.

Yesterday I asked myself “do I really need it?” and I ran some tests.

It turned out VMWare has just released a new RC version of their free VMWare Player software. This new version can also be used to create virtual machines, so it’s a full-fledged type 2 hypervisor. It also can connect unregnized USB devices to the VM and provides desktop integration (a bit differently than Virtual PC, but it works). Additionally it has some extra little features, like more advanced network configuration (without the annoying DHCP server), automated unattended installer for Windows OSes and the ability to run different guest OSes than just Windows.

And there’s a free converter tool that lets you convert machines from VirtualPC to VMWare.

I have old unused Windows XP license, so the choice was simple – I’m staying on Home Premium edition.

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