What is Virtualization software?
A Virtualization software can effectively turn one computer into several. It is commonly understood that one computer runs only one operating system. Virtualization software program changes this fact by allowing you to run multiple operating systems on one machine simultaneously.
In virtualization context the main operating system running on the machine is labeled as host operating system whereas subsequent operating systems installed are referred to as guest operating system. You can use as many guest operating systems as you require, they will act like independent new computers and even show as separate units on a network thus effectively turning one computer into several.
It is generally accepted that users having windows as host operating system find their options limited when it comes to choosing virtualization software. This is not entirely correct. Recent advancements in information technology have created a lot of viable options for windows users too.
Best Virtualization software for Windows OS
Virtual box and VM Ware player are considered often the two best options for windows operating system. But if the issue at hand is to pick the best Virtualization software for windows OS then the conclusion is definitely Virtual box. The primary reasons for choosing Virtual box are listed below:
- The best and most important factor for choosing virtual box is its price tag which in spite of being zero is bundled with prominent features that cannot be expected from free software.
- Virtual box is very user friendly can be easily installed. It can run windows OS as well Linux, Solaris or Mac OS.
- Virtual box has an advanced network stack and also supports Direct X.
- Virtual box can create restore points by using snapshot feature thus enabling you to boot from any point in its history.
- Overall the virtual box delivers a fast performance in comparison to other virtualization software. It also supports 3D virtualization.
- Virtual Box can be easily run on machines that are not highly configured in RAM; 1 GB or more are ideal for VB but it can also make use with 512 MB in limited scenarios.
- Virtual Box is very lean software requiring only 30 MB of your hard disk space for its installation. The storage requirement for virtual machines depends on what you intend to use them for.
- This is one of those virtualization software that allows you to share your clipboard back and forth with the host OS.
- 9-VirtualBox allows you to install software on the virtual machine that grants extra privileges to the host machine for different tasks like sharing files and peripherals, and even other features.
Virtual Box has a few limitations too which I believe has more to do with the fact that it is a free ware. Other than that it is a great utility for beginners who wish to start virtualization on a home pc or laptop; as windows OS is the most preferred operating system for normal tasks.
After Virtual Box, some of the next best Virtualization softwares for windows OS are:
1. Microsoft Virtual PC: Microsoft Virtual PC is another good virtualization software which is available for free with Virtual PC 2007 being the latest version. It supports nearly every Operating System as guest Operating System but it runs just some host Operating Systems such as Windows Vista Business, Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2003 SE, Windows Vista Enterprise, etc.
2. VMLite Workstation: A few drawbacks of Virtual PC are that it does not support USB devices and also multiple snapshots of the Virtual machine cannot be taken. These drawbacks can be overcome by using an open source virtualization software – the VMLite Workstation. A unique feature provided by this software is that a guest 64-bit Operating System can be run on a host 32-bit Operating System. Multiple snapshots of the virtual machine can also be saved using VMLite Workstation.
Some Virtualization formats supported by VMLite Workstation are:
- VHD - Microsoft
- VMDK - VMWare
- VDI - Sun
- HDD - Parallel
3. VMWare Server: It is a free downloadable Virtualization software. Nearly any Operating System can be run as guests or hosts using VMWare Server but unlike VMLite Workstation it does not support a guest 64-bit Operating System on a host 32-bit Operating System. Along with USB devices a few network interfaces such as host only, NAT and bridged are also supported by VMWare Server. This software comes bundled with administrative tools which enables easy communication among hosts and the guests and provides options like drag and drop, cut, copy and paste.