Virtual machines emulate other operating systems in individual windows on a computer. VM software allows you to run Windows instances on macOS and vice versa. It also supports other OS combinations such as Chrome OS, Linux, Solaris, and Solaris. These are the top virtual machine software programs that will be available in 2021.
Commonly, the host is the computer’s operating program. The guest is the secondary operating system that runs on the VM interface.
Best Virtual Machine Software
1. VMware Workstation
VMware Workstation has been on the market for almost 20 years and is widely regarded as the industry standard in virtual machine applications. The robust features of VMware Workstation cover many virtualization requirements.
Advanced 3D solutions are possible by using DirectX 11, and OpenGL 4.1. This allows for image and video degradation to be eliminated even in VMs that use graphics-intensive programs. It supports virtual machine open standards and allows you to create and manage VMs from other vendors within the VMware product.
You can set up and manage complex virtual networks for VMs with its advanced networking features. VMware can integrate with other tools to create and implement complete data centers. This allows you to emulate an entire enterprise DC.
VMware snapshots can be used to establish rollback points for testing. The cloning system makes it easy to deploy multiple instances of the same VM. Multiple VMs let you choose between fully isolated duplicates or linked clones. This allows you to save space and still have the original. It is the best virtual machine software.
The application is available in two versions: Workstation Player or Workstation Pro.
Workstation Player is completely free to use. You can create new VMs with it and support over 200 guests operating systems. It supports file-sharing between host and guest, has the graphical benefits listed above, supports 4K displays, and supports file sharing.
VMware’s advanced functionality is not available in the free version, including access to cloning, snapshots, and complex networking.
Workstation Player cannot be used commercially. To use Workstation software by businesses, you must purchase one or more Pro licenses.
VMware Workstation Pro is available to you for these features and the ability to create and manage encrypted virtual machines. Unity Mode for Mac users is included in the Pro version. This hides Windows‘ interface and allows you to use the Dock to launch Windows apps.
VMware Station can be used with these host platforms:
- Most 64-bit Linux distributions.
- Windows 7 and higher (64-bit only).
- Windows Server 2008 R2 or higher
- A free virtual machine evaluation version is available.
- Once it’s set up, it’s easy to use.
- It is widely used and highly regarded.
- Use it for your personal use.
- Consumes a lot.
- Some programs do not work in the emulator.
- You may need to modify the default configuration.
2. VMware Fusion
Fusion was created by the same people that created VMware Workstation for Linux or Windows. It offers the exact same experience as Workstation on the Mac platform.
Fusion Player can be used for personal purposes, just like VMware Workstation. Fusion Pro is available for purchase by businesses or individuals who need access to more advanced features.
Some Mac-specific features are available, including support for 5K iMacs, mixed retina, and non-retina configurations. Fusion also includes Unity Mode. This hides the Windows desktop interface and allows you to launch Windows apps from the Dock like regular apps to macOS.
Fusion, both the paid and free versions, can run Windows from a Bootcamp partition as a guest VM instance. This eliminates the need to reboot every time you switch between VM instances.
VMware Fusion is compatible with the following host platforms
- macOS/OS X 10.13 or higher
- Allows macOS to use VMware Emulation.
- Fusion Player, the basic version, is available for free.
- It supports a variety of macOS displays.
- It uses the same virtual machine programs as non-Mac VMware products.
- Parallels are not as feature-rich as Parallels.
- It can be slow.
3. Oracle VM VirtualBox
VirtualBox supports many guest operating systems including Windows XP, Windows NT, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2010. VirtualBox can run VMs running Linux 2.4 or higher, Solaris and OpenSolaris as well as OpenBSD. It can also turn back time and run OS/2/Windows 3.1. This is useful for nostalgic purposes, or to play classics like Wasteland and Pool of Radiance within their natural environments. This is the best virtual machine software for windows.
VirtualBox allows you to run macOS in a VM. This feature is only available if the host operating system is on a Mac.
VirtualBox can run multiple guest windows at once and offers a high level of portability. VirtualBox allows you to transfer VMs created on one host to another host running a different operating system.
It can be used on older hardware and recognizes most USB devices. There is also a list of guest additions that are easy and free to install. You can transfer files and clipboard content between the host operating system and the guest, as well as 3D virtualization and video support. It supports the best virtualization software.
The website contains several tutorials as well as a collection of virtual machines in a canned form that can be customized to suit specific development needs.
Oracle VM VirtualBox hosts a growing developer community that publishes new releases often and has a user forum with almost 100,000 Users. VirtualBox’s track record is proof that it will continue to improve its capabilities and be a long-term VM solution.
VirtualBox can be used with these host platforms:
- Most Linux distributions.
- macOS/OS X 10.13 or higher
- Solaris 11 and higher
- Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2, Server 2016 and 2019.
- The base version of the software is completely free.
- A simple interface and operation.
- It’s stable.
- For efficient performance, you will need a strong hardware setup and plenty of RAM.
- You will need to download Guest-addition software for additional features.
- This open-source hypervisor was first released in 2007. It is free for personal and business use.
4. Parallels Desktop
Parallels is a long-standing favorite among Mac enthusiasts who sometimes need to run Windows. It seamlessly runs Windows applications and Mac apps side-by-side.
Parallels optimize your Windows system and hardware resources based on what you use Windows for the most. This makes Windows feel more like a real PC. this is the best VM for windows.
Parallels have many of the same features as a paid VM product but also features that are specific to Macs such as opening websites in IE and Edge from a Safari browser. Also, Windows alerts will display in the Mac Notification Center. You can drag files between the two operating systems as well as clipboard contents. Parallels include a dedicated cloud storage space that can be shared between macOS and Windows.
Parallels are available in three different versions, each one suited to a specific audience. If you’re switching from a PC or Mac to Windows, the standard edition is best. The basic toolset is included, along with 8GB of VRAM and four vCPUs per guest VM. The one-time cost is $79.99
The Pro Edition is for software developers, testers, or other power users. It integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio, well-known developer tools like Jenkins, as well as well-known QA and development tools like Jenkins. You can access business cloud services, email and phone support round the clock, advanced networking tools, and advanced email and phone support. Each VM has 128 GB and 32 vCPUs. Parallels Desktop Pro Edition costs $99.99 per annum.
The Business Edition offers all the above and more, as well as central administration and management tools. You can also use the volume license key to allow you to distribute Parallels instances within your organization. Parallels Desktop Business Edition is $99.99 per year.
Parallels can be used with these host platforms:
- macOS/OS X 10.13 or higher
- It runs Windows, Chrome OS, and Linux as well as a second instance macOS.
- Three versions for different applications.
- You can monitor and adjust your memory usage.
- This allows the MacBook Pro Touch Bar in Windows to function.
- Considerable resource consumption.
- Sometimes adjustments are not intuitive.
- Subscription pricing means that users must upgrade annually.
Also read: Top 10 Open Source Software for 2022
5. Hyper-V Manager
Microsoft offers Hyper-V Manager to support Windows 10 in professional, enterprise and academic editions. It supports deep linking within Windows 10, as well as a variety of guest OSes such as Linux and older systems like MS-DOS.
Microsoft provides a fully licensed, free developer edition of Windows 10 for HyperV Manager.
This powerful hypervisor is available for Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education. This is the best free virtual machine for windows 10.
- Supported versions of Windows 10 are free and can be installed for no charge
- Strong performance and deep hooks into host OS.
- Windows 10 Home is not compatible with this feature.
- Deep hooks can prevent other VM solutions from running simultaneously.
QEMU is a popular hypervisor among Linux users because of its low cost and ease-of-use full-system emulator tools. Open-source emulator emulates hardware peripherals by using dynamic translation to attain optimal performance.
When using QEMU to virtualize KVM virtual machines can deliver near-parity performance with the right hardware. You may almost forget you are using a VM.
Only certain situations with QEMU require administrative privileges, such as when you need access to USB devices within a guest VM. This type of best virtual machine software is very flexible, so it is not common.
QEMU can be used with these host platforms:
- Most Linux distributions.
- MacOS 10.5 or higher (10.7 recommended) via the Homebrew package manager.
- 32-bit Windows, 64-bit Windows (newer versions do not work with Windows XP).
- It’s free.
- It acts as both a virtual machine host and a machine emulator.
- Simulates a variety of machines
- The interface is outdated and confusing.