There are so many things I love about VMware, it’s hard to slim it down to one or two things. One of my favorite things VMware has engineered is VMware Workstation 8. Maybe you are new to VMware and haven’t had a chance to see all the products they have, well this is one product you’ll want to own for many reasons. VMware Workstation is a hosted hypervisor, meaning, the hypervisor must be installed on top of an operating system such as Linux or Windows. Yes Mac users, VMware has engineered a hosted hypervisor for you too, it’s called VMware Fusion (although lacking much of the functionality found in VMware Workstation). What Workstation does is allow you to create your own private cloud right in the comfort of your own home, on your laptop or desktop PC, that’s cool. There are so many things you can do with VMware Workstation, I’ll point out what I love about it and also give you step by step instructions on how to install VMware Workstation 8 so you can get to building your private cloud. Here is a nice video from VMware to set the stage for the rest of the post, it’s going to give you a brief overview of its capapbilities.

Oh The Things You Can Do!
Are you studying for a VMware certification? Do you want to test drive ESXi 5.0? Would you like to stand up and host your own virtual web server or media server? Do you need to give presentations to win an RFP on virtualization? Are your kids or others in your household notorious for inviting Trojan Horses, malware, spyware and more into your computer? VMware Workstation 8 provides the answer to all of those situations and more. The number one thing that I love about Workstation 8 is the ability it gives you to create your own vSphere home lab completely nested inside of your computer, for me it’s my laptop. First off you need to make sure your PC is built on a 64 bit architecture in order for ESXi to work, it is only available on 64 bit machines.

Get Hands On Experience, and Pass Your Exam
With many of today’s IT certifications, it’s pretty much an unwritten requirement to have hands on experience with the technology you are testing on. For most, this can be a daunting task. What Workstation allows you to do is download the latest and greatest from VMware, install it in a virtual machine within Workstation and test it. It’s perfect for break/fix scenarios that you will most likely see on any of VMware’s exams. You can test out the newest features of vCenter, practice installing ESXi 5.0 and many of the other features you will be tested on in the VMware certification exams.

Keep Your PC Safe From Your Kids
One of my best use cases for Workstation 8 is that you can create a VM specifically for your kids to use and surf the web without the worry of Trojans, malware or spyware infecting your PC. My kids are pretty young but they are still getting on the Internet from time to time and it’s a very good possibility that they will click on something that will inevitably lead to a virus infecting my PC. For that reason, I’ve created a Windows VM that they can use to play games, surf the web and do school work on. In the event that they do bring in a virus, I can simply revert to a snapshot of that VM taken in a clean state, thereby eliminating the virus. Snapshots are a great feature of Workstation 8, in this case you can always revert back to a snapshot should a virus make it in, or a program corrupts your OS.

How To Install VMware Workstation 8
Now that we have some great use cases, and you are sold on Workstation 8, let’s go through the installation process which is fairly straight forward and simple. If you already have Workstation 7.1 or older, you can also simply upgrade your current installation, in any case there isn’t much difference in the installation steps.

Go to VMware’s site and download Workstation 8. Right off the bat you’ll get a 30 day free trial so you can kick the tires, but after 30 days if you haven’t purchased it you won’t be able to power on any VMs you’ve created. NOTE: Once you have downloaded the .exe and you double-click it, this is the window you will see next if you already have Workstation 7.1 or earlier installed on your PC:

Go ahead and click ‘uninstall’ to start uninstalling any earlier version of Workstation you may already have on your PC. There’s no getting around this, you can’t have more than one hosted hypervisor on your machine, regardless of different versions. What you will see next is your earlier version of Workstation being uninstalled.

Once your earlier version of Workstation has been removed what’s next? You got it, time to restart, go ahead and restart your machine to proceed with the installation of Workstation 8.

After your machine is finished booting up, click on the .exe once again and you will get the following screen shown loading your new Workstation 8 set up.

If this is your first installation of VMware Workstation, this is the first screen you will see after clicking the Workstation .exe. Click ‘next’

The next screen will give you the option of choosing ‘typical’ installation or ‘custom’ installation. I’ve never chosen ‘custom’ unless you absolutely want to mess around with the settings, just select ‘typical’ and proceed.

Next, select your destination folder where Workstation will be installed. As you can see from the screenshot, by default Workstation was installed in C:Program FilesVMwareVMware Workstation You can choose to install it somewhere else, I always just go with the default location.

Once you have chosen an installation path, the set up wizard will next ask you to enter your license key. If you are just going with the 30 day trial, you should get a link in the email you signed up with which will take you to your trial license key. If you’ve purchased it, just enter your license key here.

At last, you are done with the set up wizard, congratulations you’ve made it to the coveted ‘finish’ button. Click ‘finish’

When the install is finished you can simply click on your desktop icon and you will see the following screenshot which is your workstation dashboard. NOTE: If you had a previously installed version of Workstation on your PC and a library of VMs, don’t fret, they will be there. If you click on the screenshot below you can see my VMs from the Workstation 7.1 installation I had previously installed on my PC.

What Will It Cost Me?
Yes, there is a cost involved with VMware Workstation 8, not everything can be free. However, there is one way to gain a full Workstation or Fusion license for free. You can get it for free by taking and passing your VCP exam, VCP4 or 5. That’s no small feat of course, you will need to take the ICM class as well as pass the exam which will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $225. That being said, is it free? Technically not, going that route will cost you a bit, but at least you will get a great certification in the process. The other route you can take is just outright purchasing a full license which will cost you $199 US. Either way, the cost of a VMware Workstation 8 license is nothing compared to the experience you will gain working with it and building your own private cloud!

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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