Which VMware is free?

VMware offers several free products for personal and non-commercial use, allowing users to virtualize applications and try out features available in paid VMware platforms. This article explores the free VMware options available and key differences compared to paid versions.

Which VMware is free?

VMware Workstation Player

VMware Workstation Player is a desktop virtualization app for Windows and Linux PCs. It allows users to run multiple operating systems as virtual machines on a single PC. Key features include:

  • Install and run over 200 OSes including Linux, Windows, etc.
  • Experience features like snapshots, cloning, encryption, etc.
  • Seamless app compatibility and high performance

Workstation Player is free for personal non-commercial use with no feature limitations.

VMware Fusion Player

Fusion Player brings the power of desktop virtualization to Mac users. Key capabilities include:

  • Virtualize over 200 OSes without rebooting
  • Run Windows apps seamlessly alongside Mac apps
  • Effortless switching between Mac and Windows
  • Share files and folders easily between virtual machine and host

Like Workstation Player, Fusion Player is free for personal use without restrictions.

VMware vSphere Hypervisor

vSphere Hypervisor, formerly called ESXi, is VMware’s enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor. It provides a robust, high-performance virtualization layer for data centers to consolidate applications on shared infrastructure.

Even though ESXi is enterprise-focused, a free version called vSphere Hypervisor is available. It supports all standard vSphere features but has some limitations when compared to paid versions:

  • Supports only 8 vCPUs per VM
  • Limited remote management capabilities
  • No advanced features like vMotion, High Availability, Distributed Resource Scheduler, etc.

So while less suitable for large environments, vSphere Hypervisor works well for smaller servers and labs.

How do the free and paid VMware platforms compare?

VMware offers both free personal-use editions and more advanced paid versions for commercial usage of its virtualization platforms:

Product Free Version Paid Version
Desktop Virtualization <ul><li>Workstation Player (Windows & Linux)</li><li>Fusion Player (Mac)</li></ul> <ul><li>Workstation Pro</li><li>Fusion Pro</li></ul>
Server Virtualization vSphere Hypervisor vSphere (Essentials, Standard, Enterprise Plus)

The paid editions are suitable for enterprise usage and come with additional capabilities like:

  • Support for larger number of vCPUs/VMs
  • Advanced management and automation
  • High availability and disaster recovery
  • Specialized features like GPU passthrough
  • Sophisticated security and access controls
  • 24/7 support services

So for commercial or complex deployments, VMware paid solutions are recommended. But the free versions serve smaller environments well.

Key Takeaway

  • VMware Workstation Player, Fusion Player, and vSphere Hypervisor are available free for personal non-commercial use.
  • Workstation Player and Fusion Player support all major OSes and offer full-features, while vSphere Hypervisor supports up to 8 vCPUs.
  • For larger environments, paid VMware platforms like vSphere, Workstation Pro, and Fusion Pro add advanced capabilities.


VMware enables users to experience the power of virtualization through their free editions of Workstation Player, Fusion Player, and vSphere Hypervisor. These serve smaller environments well at no cost.

For commercial requirements with higher scalability, management needs etc., VMware’s paid solutions deliver significantly enhanced capabilities. But in a nutshell, individuals and teams can leverage VMware’s seamless and secure virtualization for development, testing, and learning without needing to pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is VMware truly free for commercial use?
A: No, only non-commercial personal use of VMware Player, Fusion Player and vSphere Hypervisor is free. For commercial usage you need their paid solutions.

Q: What features are missing in the free vSphere Hypervisor?
A: It lacks high availability, live migration, backup, automated load balancing and other advanced features that come with paid vSphere versions.

Q: Does VMware provide technical support for free products?
A: No, only the paid editions come with technical support, upgrades and patches. The free versions have community support only.

Q: Can I configure more than 8 vCPUs VMs on vSphere Hypervisor
A: No, the free ESXi limits virtual machines to 8 vCPUs. For higher vCPU count you require the paid vSphere editions.

Q: Is there a limit on number of VMs with free VMware virtualization?
A: No, except for vCPU count per VM on ESXi, there is no limit on VMs or other resources for the free VMware platforms.

Q: Can I use VMs created with free VMware for commercial use?
A: No, the EULA for the free VMware products prohibits their use for any commercial, non-personal activities.

Q: Is VMware free for students and educational use?
A: Yes, VMware provides academic/educational licensing at massively reduced pricing for their paid products. The free products can also be used for learning.

Q: Does VMware Player work on Windows 11?
A: Yes, Workstation Player works seamlessly on Windows 11 to run virtual machines and is optimized for the latest Windows features.

Q: How do I download VMware free products?
A: You can download them from VMware’s website by simply providing your email ID and accepting the EULA terms during installation.

Q: Can I run Linux VMs on Fusion Player?
A: Yes, Fusion Player supports a wide range of Linux distributions among over 200 OSes that can be virtualized.

Q: Is VMware Player better than VirtualBox?
A: VMware Player offers better performance and compatibility. But VirtualBox is an excellent free alternative for non-production usage.

Q: What are the system requirements to run VMware Player?
A: Workstation Player requires a 64-bit x86 CPU with hardware virtualization support enabled in BIOS plus minimum 2GB RAM and 4GB disk space.

Q: Does VMware Player work on Mac M1/M2 based systems?
A: Yes, Fusion Player has excellent support for Apple Silicon M1 and M2 chips using its optimized ARM64 version.

Q: Is VMware ESXi free? What are the catches?
A: Yes, now called vSphere Hypervisor. It is fully-featured but capped at 8 vCPUs per VM. You need paid vSphere for advanced server capabilities.

Q: How does application compatibility compare between VMware and Hyper-V?
A: VMware generally offers better application compatibility, especially for Linux based apps and CAD/CAE software compared to Hyper-V.

Q: Can I run paid VMware licenses on vSphere Hypervisor?
A: No, paid vSphere editions require the vSphere server platform preinstalled by an OEM or VMware. vSphere Hypervisor has a different free license.

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