VMware Workstation is a line of Desktop Hypervisor products which lets users run virtual machines, containers and Kubernetes clusters.
The VMware Workstation product line consists of two products: Workstation Pro and Workstation Player. Collectively they are referred to as ‘VMware Workstation’, and when there are differences, they are called out.
VMware Workstation products work by using special functions in modern 64-bit x86 CPUs to create fully isolated, secure virtual machines that encapsulate an operating system and its applications. The VMware virtualization layer maps physical hardware resources to a virtual machine's virtual resources, so each virtual machine has its own CPU, memory, disks, and I/O devices, as well as the full equivalent of a standard x86 machine. VMware Workstation installs onto the host operating system and provides broad hardware support by inheriting device support from the host.
No. VMware Workstation uses your computer's file system and creates files that map to a virtual machine's disk drives, so there is no need to create a partition for each operating system. If you already have another operating system with dual boot installed on your computer, you can use VMware Workstation to run the other operating system in a virtual machine on your host operating system. Instead of dual booting, you can run both operating systems simultaneously and seamlessly switch from one operating system to another with a click of your mouse.
Virtual disks are the disk partitions of virtual machines. They are stored as files on the file system of your host operating system. One of the key features of VMware Workstation Pro is encapsulation. This means that complete environments are contained in a set of files, which can be copied, moved, and accessed quickly and easily. Since an entire disk partition is saved as a file, virtual disks are easy to back up, move, and copy. You can create virtual SCSI, IDE, and SATA disks as large as 8 TB.
Yes. In addition to virtual machines, both Workstation Pro and Workstation Player include the CLI tool ‘vctl’ which is used to push, pull, build and run OCI containers. ‘vctl’ also lets users run local Kubernetes clusters without requiring Docker for Windows.
Fundamentally, Workstation Pro and Workstation Player share the same hypervisor technology, but with unique user interfaces for different types of use.
Workstation Player is designed for a single graphical VM operation, or for command line operation with ‘vmrun’ or ‘ making it great for running a different operating system in a secure isolated sandbox on a consumer PC. Workstation Player is also widely used in education for learning more about the world of information technology and computer systems.
Workstation Pro is designed for IT professionals and developers, and provides a more fully featured interface with capabilities for running multiple virtual machines at the same time. Workstation Pro can provide and configure virtual networking, create clones, connect to vSphere, show multiple VMs at the same time in a tabbed UI and more.
For a more detailed comparison, please visit our Compare Table.
VMware offers several licensing models with a variety of differences, each defined in our Product Guide.
Workstation Pro requires a paid licensed for use which can be purchased from store.vmware.com or from our channel partners. Workstation Pro licenses are available for personal use on up to 3 devices that you own or control. Workstation Pro can be licensed for corporate use and requires one license per device.
Any application that will run on a standard PC will run inside a virtual machine on VMware Workstation. VMware Workstation is the equivalent of a full PC, with full networking and devices — each virtual machine has its own CPU, memory, disks, I/O devices, etc. This allows you to run any application that runs on the supported guest operating systems, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Apache Web Server, Microsoft Visual Studio, Kernel debuggers, Firewalls, VPN software and much more.
Once you have installed VMware Workstation, you "configure" a virtual machine by assigning it memory, disk, ports, and networking. You then power on that virtual machine with the operating system installation CD or ISO image. The virtual machine will boot, and the operating system will start its normal install procedure.
The virtual machine can use bridged networking to receive its own IP address (when available from a DHCP server), or it can use NAT and share the host's IP address. Also, host-only networking can be set to create an isolated virtual network. Lastly, network connections can be entirely disabled for complete virtual machine isolation.
Workstation Pro software and documentation is available in English and Japanese (Windows only)
VMware Workstation runs on standard x86-based hardware with 64-bit Intel and AMD processors, and on 64-bit Windows or Linux host operating systems. For more detail, see our
No. When you uninstall the Technology Preview version and install the final released version of VMware Workstation, virtual machines created using the Technology Preview will remain intact. It is recommended to update VMware Tools in your guest to remain aligned with the newer version of Workstation.
No. Workstation 17 requires a 64-bit operating system on the host PC. You can still run 32-bit Windows and Linux guest operating systems inside a virtual machine on Workstation 17.
Yes. For Windows, you should first uninstall the Technology Preview version using the included Remove VMware Workstation function from the ‘modify installation’ menu from 'Add / Remove Programs’ utility in Windows before upgrading to the final released version.
Technology Guarantee Program
Customers who purchased VMware Workstation 16 Pro or Player beginning October 15th, 2022 are covered by the Technology Guarantee Program for VMware Workstation, and are eligible for a complimentary electronic upgrade to VMware Workstation 17 Pro or Player (depending on the upgrading license), when they become generally available:
- If you purchased VMware Workstation 16 Pro or Player from the VMware online store or an authorized VMware partner on or after October 15th, 2022, you will automatically receive your new VMware Workstation 17 Pro or Player license key(s) via email after the General Availability of Workstation 17 Pro. No further action is required to receive your upgrade.
Customers who purchased VMware Workstation 16 Pro or Player before October 15th, 2022 without an SnS contract are not eligible for a complimentary upgrade to VMware Workstation 17 and would need to purchase an upgrade to Workstation 17 Pro or Player to enjoy the benefits of the latest version of the product.
Currently Licensed Product
Eligible for Paid Upgrade to Workstation 17 Pro
Eligible for Free Upgrade to Workstation 17 Pro
Eligible for Paid upgrade to Workstation 17 Player (Commercial License)?
Eligible for Free Upgrade to Workstation 17 Player (Commercial License)?
Workstation 15 and 16 Pro without active SnS Contract
Workstation 15 and 16 Pro with active SnS Contract
Workstation 15 or 16 Player without active SnS Contract
Workstation 15 or 16 Player with active SnS Contract
VMware Workstation 17 upgrades are available for purchase on the VMware online store or through VMware resellers.
IMPORTANT: When you install a new version of Workstation Pro, the previous version will be uninstalled from your system. Therefore, we recommend that you proceed with the upgrade only if you have a new license key.Your existing virtual machines will not be affected.
Customers with older VMware Workstation versions (3.x through 15.x) will need to purchase a “New” license.
Yes. The price of VMware Workstation Pro includes an update service that entitles you to product updates and patches, which are new releases of Workstation Pro within a given product version (e.g. x.1, and x.1.1, and so forth). VMware Workstation Pro will automatically download updates or you may download updates by visiting the Workstation Pro Download Page.
Yes. VMware Workstation Licenses are portable across platforms, and your upgraded key will function on both Windows and Linux editions of VMware Workstation 17 Pro or Player.
No, it is not possible to upgrade a Workstation academic license to a Workstation commercial license. If you are not associated with an education institution anymore and wish to continue using Workstation, you must purchase a full commercial license.
NOTE: Workstation offers a Support and Subscription add-on which will entitle users to additional support requests and free major version upgrades for the duration of the subscription term (1-3 years)
Licensing and Registration
VMware Workstation has multiple licensing options depending on your use case.
Workstation Player is available free for personal, non-commercial use, but requires a license for commercial use. A valid Commercial license will remove the ‘Non-commercial use only’ banner placed within the product.
VMware Workstation Pro requires a paid license for personal and commercial uses, with different terms for each as defined by the VMware Product Guide
Yes. You can switch between Windows and Linux versions of VMware Workstation Pro using the same license key. If you decide to switch host operating systems, you must uninstall Workstation Pro from the host operating system you no longer plan to use. If you plan to run VMware Workstation Pro on a Linux host and a Windows host, you need to purchase two licenses.
Yes. Students and professors can purchase VMware Workstation products at our standard academic pricing by ordering directly from VMware Academic Store.
If you purchased the product from the VMware Online store, your license key is automatically registered. If you purchased from a reseller, you may need to manually register your license key in your VMware Customer Connect account. Please consult this KB article for detailed instructions on license key registration.
While Workstation Pro and Player do not run on macOS, the licenses are compatible with VMware Fusion Pro and Fusion Player for Mac, respectively. VMware allows you to use your personal Workstation Pro or Player license to run virtual machines, containers and Kubernetes clusters on up to 3 devices that you personally own, including Apple devices. To facilitate this, a Workstation 17 Pro license can be used to license VMware Fusion 13 Pro, and a Workstation 17 Player license can be used to license VMware Fusion 13 Player as 1 of the total 3 devices entitled.
Corporate accounts must purchase 1 commercial license for each unique device.
Yes. Workstation Pro and Player both include license keys for trial operation. Workstation Pro includes Workstation Player, and provides 30 days of free evaluation, after which time a license must be purchased for continued use of Workstation Pro or continued commercial use of Workstation Player. The product is 100% full featured for the duration of the trial period, with no other restrictions applied, but will prevent launch once the trial period has expired.
After the evaluation period has expired, you will be prompted to enter a license key. If you have purchased the product you will have received a new license key. Enter the purchased license key when prompted to unlock the full "unlimited" version of the software. To take advantage of complimentary email support for up to 30 days, your license key must be registered. If you purchased the product from the VMware Online store, your license key is automatically registered. If you purchased from a reseller, you need to manually register your license key in My VMware. Please consult this KB article for detailed instructions on license key registration.
VMware Workstation Pro will prompt you for updates automatically. To manually check for updates, click on the "VMware Workstation Pro" drop down menu in VMware Workstation Pro and choose "Check for Updates." Alternatively, each version is available for download within your VMware Customer Connect portal.
No. You simply need to update your license key in VMware Workstation Pro or Player. For more detailed information, please refer to our documentation
Create a Support Request
To create a new support request or check on the status of an existing request please sign on to your account through the VMware Customer Connect portal.
Email installation support for VMware Workstation Pro is valid for 30 days from product registration. Submit support requests either online or via phone; responses are targeted within one business day.
Per Incident Support
Purchase support as you need it for VMware Workstation Pro or Player. Individual per incident support is conveniently sold in 1, 3 or 5 incident packs. Submit support requests either online or via phone; responses are targeted within one business day.
VMware Basic Support can be purchased when buying your Workstation licenses, even if you’re only buying 1 product license. Basic Support provides access to our global support centers, 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, including unlimited support requests and subscription services for 1 or 3-year periods.
VMware Production Support can be purchased when buying your Workstation licenses, even if you’re only buying 1product license. VMware Production Support provides access to our global support centers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Severity 1 issues, including unlimited support requests and subscription services for 1 or 3-year periods.
Complimentary support starts when your paid VMware Workstation license is registered. Registration takes place automatically if you purchased your product from the VMware Online store. If you purchased from a reseller, you may need to register your license in your VMware Customer Connect portal. Please consult this KB article for detailed instructions on license key registration
Yes, you can purchase support incidents and open a support request for any product version that is still officially supported by VMware.
Complimentary support for VMware Workstation paid licenses is valid for 30 days from product registration.
VMware provides several self-help and community supported resources including:
- Workstation Pro Documentation — product documentation and manuals
- Workstation Player Documentation – product documentation and manuals
- Knowledge Base — troubleshooting information
- Community Forum — users can share their information and experiences with others (registration required)
- User Groups (VMUGs) — live, local gatherings of VMware users
- Customers are also eligible for complimentary installation support for the first 30 days following product registration.