Workstation 8 promises to be a major release.

Besides upgrading the virtual hardware to level 8 (in line with vSphere 5), which brings 3D and vSMP optimizations, as well as expanded support for nested hardware virtualization, 64GB vRAM and HD Audio, the GUI has had a major upgrade. We finally have a ‘summary’ window for a VM, displaying the status of the VM like we’re used to in vSphere. The navigation pane has been replaced with a much cleaner, faster and searchable inventory view, there are live thumbnails everywhere (literally!), the power controls have been simplified, they’ve added a fully functional toolbar when in fullscreen mode (which makes the fullscreen mode less cripled and on par with the normal mode).

Also, the only reason anyone ever used VMware Server was the headless mode. This has now been re-introduced in Workstation with ‘VM Sharing’. Just drag a VM to the  sharing wizard, and the VM will start/stop with the host, regardless of logged in users. You don’t even need to run Workstation. From a remote Workstation console, you can access this VM. Using hostd’s permissions and roles, Workstation has implemented a granular and familiar way to control access to the shared VMs.

Probably the coolest gimmick in Workstation 8 is the connectivity to a vSphere or vCenter host. You can manage VMs running on vSphere directly from the Workstation Console. While you’re at it, just migrate those Workstation VMs to vSphere; you can do that, too. Or, alternatively, create a new VM on vSphere from within Workstation.

The ‘Teams’ concept has been replaced with folders (where the team functionality like network segments and bandwith throttling are now available to all VM’s).