With the rise in technology, computers have become more powerful to run multiple operating systems. Here, we’re talking about virtual machines that help you run one operating system emulated within another operating system. Virtualization can be used as a standardization tool, which means you can setup one OS environment as a standard and then replicate the similar virtual machine as many times as you want. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best free virtualization software for Windows. Read on.
Before digging deep on what is virtualization, let’s first talk about why we use virtualization software on our Windows systems.
Virtualization is an innovative approach that is used to make the hardware resources expandable without shifting data from one place to another. Virtualization technology is also used to reduce the cost of computer hardware as multiple virtual servers can be hosted on single server hardware. Rather than dedicating a separate hardware machine, one can easily setup virtual servers on one hardware machine.
Free Virtualization Software for Windows
VirtualBox is virtualization software from Oracle and is free for both enterprise and personal use. The application comes with an extension pack that can be installed along with VirtualBox in order to get additional functionality like USB device support, remote desktop connection, and PXE network booting capability for Intel NIC (LAN) cards.
VirtualBox can run on many platforms including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. It supports all virtual machines using the open virtualization format; this includes support for virtual hard drives from Windows Virtual PC and VMware.
The virtualization software for Windows allows you to run a guest OS seamlessly with your host OS using Seamless Mode. This puts the guest’s taskbar in your host OS desktop, allowing for full interaction with the guest operating system right inside your standard host desktop. Moving forward, it supports resizing the guest OS screen according to the VirtualBox window. You just need to have Scale Mode enabled for this purpose.
Although VirtualBox runs on Mac OS, it has many woes and creates stability issues. So, it should only be used in a home environment when Mac OS has to be used as a host operating system. VirtualBox runs fine on Windows and Linux as hosts.
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Windows Virtual PC is designed to run older versions of Windows seamlessly and has made desktop virtualization even more ubiquitous. The programs installed in the virtual operating system will show up in the host computer’s Start menu and you can also set them as the default program for handling a particular file type.
Virtual PC is available as Virtual PC 2004, Virtual PC 2007, and Windows Virtual PC. It also supports all USB devices connected to the host system, even if they are not recognized by the host system.
This virtualization software for Windows can run on all editions of Windows 7, but users of the Home edition will have to create their own virtual machines from an original Windows installation disk or from old Windows installation.
VMware Server is a free virtualization software for Windows from VMWare. Although its support has ended, it can still be downloaded and used for free. It supports almost all the operating systems as guests or hosts but it’s worth noting that the 64-bit guest OS cannot be installed on a 32-bit host. VMWare Server has support for USB devices and also supports bridged, NAT, and host-only network interfaces.
VMware Server is a cross-platform application that is designed as a technology demonstrator for the much more expensive ESX. It has two versions – 1.x.x, which runs with local console and 2.x.x, which runs with a Web console.
VMWare Server comes with administrative tools package which can be installed from the File menu. The administrative tools make it easier to communicate between the guest OS and the host.
The older version of Windows Virtual PC, Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, is a free virtualization product from Microsoft that allows XP and Vista users to easily run virtual machines on their systems. It can run on any system running Windows XP or newer and does not require a processor that supports hardware virtualization. This makes it useful for Windows 7 users who want to use the XP mode but does not have a processor with hardware virtualization. It is quite fast especially if you want to install any version of Windows as a guest operating system.
Although Microsoft Virtual PC does everything which a standard virtualization software can do, it has certain limitations. It does not have USB device support and it cannot save multiple snapshots of the Virtual machine. Other than these limitations, Virtual PC is quite fast especially if you want to install any version of Windows as a guest Operating System.
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Launched in 2005 as a free solution to run pre-built virtual machines, VMware Player is now a complete basic desktop virtualization software for Windows allowing you to create, manage, and run virtual machines.
VMware Player supports virtual machines from all VMware products, Windows Virtual PC and Virtual Server, as well as Symantec backup and recovery images. Moreover, it offers a Unity mode that helps you run programs from a virtual machine along with the programs running on your main operating system. You can launch programs in the virtual machine using a program menu that appears above your standard Windows Start menu.
VMware Player supports all USB, parallel, and serial port devices connected to the host system. It runs on Windows XP and newer, and most current editions of Linux. It supports 64-bit guests and offers fully integrated support for Windows and Linux guests. The supported guest operating systems are – DOS, Solaris, FreeBSD, and most current editions of Linux.
VMLite Workstation is a virtualization product based on open source VirtualBox. One of the most remarkable features of VMLite Workstation is that it supports running a 64-bit guest OS on a 32-bit host OS. So, if you’re running 32-bit Windows 7, you will be able to run 64-bit Windows XP with the help of VMLite Workstation.
Talking about its advantages, VMLite supports most of the virtualization formats used in the industry such as VMDK (VMWare), VDI (Sun), VHD (Microsoft), and HDD (Parallel).
VMLite comes with its own version of Windows XP mode for Windows 7. It gives the same functionality as the original Windows XP mode and does not require any hardware virtualization.
Important note: Registration is required to download the setup file.
MobaXterm is a simple yet powerful virtualization software for Windows that gives a complete set of network tools perfectly arranged in a single portable EXE file. The utility was specially developed to assist IT professionals and network administrators who want to work on remote systems by providing them all essential tools on one single platform.
The application offers support to SSH, Telnet, RDP, VNC, FTP, SFTP, XDMCP, rlogin, and serial connections. MobaXterm manages to attract many people with its built-in X11 server and neatly arranged multi-tabbed interface that helps its users perform multiple tasks on more than one remote device. There is an advanced integrated terminal that is capable of running UNIX commands through the shell script.
KOPLAYER is a great Android emulator for Windows that brings the functionality of the Android operating system on your Windows PC. With the help of this application, you can enjoy unlimited Android apps or games on your computer. This way you can take full advantage of the mobile operating system’s abilities directly on your desktop.
KOPLAYER is especially recommended for Android gamers or content creators, who need to review apps and games. This will help them to analyze the apps better. What sets this application apart from other Android emulators is that the program deploys cutting-edge Kernel technology on x86 architecture. This results in more stability, better performance, and compatibility. This way you can make better use of the Android OS on the bigger screen.
BlueStacks App Player is yet another Android emulator developed by BlueStacks. The application allows you to run Android apps on a Windows PC. It is optimized to work with mouse and keyboard-based input.
BlueStacks App Player is also used by a number of developers along with other trusted Android developer tools to develop Android apps and games. It makes use of trademarked Layercake technology that allows it smoothly render even the most graphics-intense Android games on the PC. You can use Google Play Store to get access to all your favorite games and apps. It also lets you add icons of your favorite Android apps straight to your desktop.
The virtualization software for Windows comes with a lot of pre-installed games and apps. You are free to change the screen size of the emulator to either resemble your device or use it in the fullscreen mode.
Andy is an effective mobile operating system that offers seamless synchronization between desktop and mobile devices. The program helps you run your favorite Android apps directly from Windows PC. You can customize the software in a number of ways as per your need. You can copy files directly from desktop to emulator as well as add and remove widgets on home screen.
The application provides you unlimited storage capacity, PC, and Mac compatibility, and freedom to play all mobile games right on your desktop. You can download games and apps from Google Play Store or side-load APKs and run them through Andy OS.
The virtualization software for Windows grants you the full access to your local file system. Apart from this, application data syncing, camera and microphone integration, notifications, and developer support is also available.
Sandboxie is a useful virtualization software for Windows that runs programs in a protected environment. It is a sandbox-based isolated operating environment that allows you to run or install applications without modifying data stored on your computer. It can seamlessly maintain your privacy by ensuring that your browser cache, cookies, and browsing history stay within the sandbox.
Whether you browse the Web or download and run applications, it needs a lot of protection to prevent malware from spreading into your Windows system. You can use the software to view and manage programs, start the web browser, email reader or other Windows apps. Moreover, it helps you remove traces of your Internet or computer activities. The software supports almost all Windows versions, including Windows XP and Windows 7.
That’s all we have in our list of 11 free virtualization software for Windows.