5 Best Virtual Machine Software in 2023

One of the most important aspects of any computer is its virtualization software. A virtual machine (VM) is a software program that allows you to run an operating system and its applications inside another operating system.

There are different virtual machine software programs on the market, but not all of them are created equal. This makes it important to choose the right one for your needs.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss four of the best virtual machine software programs in 2023 and what makes them great. We’ll take a look at features, pricing, and ease of use to help you decide which program is right for you. 

What is Virtual Machine Software?

Virtual machine software is a computer program that creates a virtual machine, which is an isolated environment that acts like a physical computer. Virtual machine software allows you to run multiple operating systems on one physical computer and various applications within each operating system. 

Virtual machine software provides several benefits, including the ability to test new software and operating systems in a safe and isolated environment, run multiple operating systems simultaneously on one computer, and consolidate multiple physical computers into a single virtual machine.

In addition, virtual machine software can be used to create backups of physical computers or to recover data from physical computers that have failed.

Types of Virtual Machine

There are two main types of virtual machines: System virtual machines and Process virtual machines.

System Virtual Machines

A system virtual machine is also known as a full virtual machine. This machine provides a complete system environment in which an operating system can be installed and run, just as if it were running on physical hardware.

System virtual machines are typically used to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on one computer. For example, you could use a system virtual machine to run Windows and Linux on the same computer.

The way companies virtualize their business depends on a hypervisor, such as VMware ESXi. This software can operate with an operating system or without one (bare hardware).

Advantages

System virtual machines have a number of advantages, including the following:

  • They provide complete isolation between guest operating systems, allowing you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on one computer without conflicts.
  • They allow you to consolidate multiple physical computers into a single virtual machine, which can be more efficient and cost-effective.
  • They can be used to create backups of physical computers or to recover data from physical computers that have failed.

Disadvantages

System virtual machines have a few disadvantages, as well, including the following:

  • They require more resources than process virtual machines, so they may not be suitable for use on lower-end hardware.
  • They can be more difficult to set up and use than process virtual machines.

Process Virtual Machines

A process virtual machine is also known as an application virtual machine or a managed runtime environment. It is designed to run a single process, such as an application, inside an operating system.

A process virtual machine has its own memory and process management. It can be used to run multiple processes inside an operating system, but each process is isolated from the others.

High-level abstractions are provided by interpreters that implement process virtual machines. They find widespread applications with the Java programming language, for which Java virtual machines are required for program execution. 

The Parrot VM, which is based on the Common Language Runtime VM, and the.NET Framework are two other processes that can be thought of as VMs. They also serve as an abstraction layer above the underlying programming language.

Advantages

Process virtual machines are portable, meaning they can be moved from one platform to another with minimal effort. They are also more secure than traditional virtual machines, as each process is isolated from the others.

Disadvantages

Process virtual machines can be slower than traditional virtual machines, as they need to create a separate memory space for each process. Additionally, process virtual machines are not well suited for running complex applications, as each process is isolated from the others.

What Can You Do With Virtual Machine Software?

There are a number of different things that you can do with a virtual machine software program. Some of the most popular use cases include:

Testing Out a New Operating System

 If you want to test a new operating system, you can install it on a virtual machine instead of your computer. This way, if something goes wrong, you can delete the virtual machine and start over. You can also use a virtual machine to run software incompatible with your current operating system. This can be useful for work or school projects. 

Running Multiple Operating Systems

Virtual machine software allows you to run multiple operating systems on one computer. This can be useful if you need to use different operating systems for different tasks. For example, you could have a virtual machine for work that runs Windows and another virtual machine for personal use that runs Linux. 

Cloning a System

Cloning a system means creating an identical copy of the system on your virtual machine, including its OS, applications, and settings. Cloning can be useful for creating backups or duplicates of existing systems. When cloning a system, it is important to use the same hypervisor as the VM; otherwise, the clone may need to be fixed. 

Isolating Systems

If you’re worried about security, you can use a virtual machine to isolate a sensitive system from the rest of your network. Your other systems will be safe even if the virtual machine is compromised.

Create a Malware Analysis Lab

A malware analysis lab is a safe environment where malware can be studied and analyzed without harming network systems. In the past, setting up a malware analysis lab required dedicated hardware and software, but with the advent of virtual machines, it is now possible to create a lab on a single computer. 

By running multiple virtual machines, each with its operating system, analysts can isolate individual pieces of malware and study them without the worry of contamination. In addition, by using snapshots, analysts can quickly revert to a known good state if something goes wrong.

Ultimately, virtual machines offer a flexible and cost-effective way to create a safe environment for malware analysis.

Create Apps For Various Platforms

Developing apps for multiple platforms can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition. But with virtual machines, you can develop apps for different platforms using the same code base. 

You can save time and money by developing once and deploying multiple platforms. And because virtual machines are portable, you can easily move your development environment from one machine to another.

Run Out-of-date Software

It can be tough to keep up with the latest software releases in today’s ever-changing world. Companies are constantly coming out with new versions of their products, and users are expected to upgrade on a regular basis. 

However, this isn’t always possible – sometimes older software is incompatible with newer hardware or doesn’t work as well on the latest operating system. In these cases, virtual machines can be a lifesaver. 

Users can keep using their favorite software without worrying about compatibility issues by running an older program version on a virtual machine. Virtual machines also offer a degree of safety, as they isolate the old software from the rest of the system. This means that if something goes wrong, it’s much less likely to cause serious damage to the host machine. As a result, virtual machines can be a great way to keep using out-of-date software.

Top 5 Virtual Machine Software in 2023

1. Microsoft Hyper-V Manager

This software provides a centralized management console for virtual machines running on a Windows Server. With Hyper-V Manager, you can create and configure virtual machines and manage their storage and networking. 

Additionally, Hyper-V Manager integrates with other Microsoft products, such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager, to provide a comprehensive virtualization solution.

Price:  $24.95 to $199

Notable Features

  • Hardware Virtualization
  • Computing environment
  • Optimization
  • Remote Connectivity
  • PowerShell Direct
  • Storage Replica
  • Host Resources Protection
  • Nano Server
  • Containers
  • ADFS v4
  • Discrete Device Assignment (DDA)
  • Hyper-V Hot-Add Virtual Hardware

Summary

Microsoft’s engineering team has worked hard on the most recent Hyper-V versions to improve stability and security and give administrators more options for performing daily tasks. 

These characteristics are critical in today’s virtualization landscape, where VMware is the dominant player. Microsoft is playing catch-up with VMware regarding features and functionality, but with each new Hyper-V release, they are making progress in narrowing the gap.

Watch Out For: The primary operating system must be installed before using Hyper-V.

2. VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion is a virtualization software that allows you to run Windows on a Mac. This can be helpful if you need to use certain Windows-only applications but want to avoid dual-booting your computer or using a virtual machine. Fusion uses a “virtual machine” to run Windows, which is essentially an emulation of a PC. 

This means you can install Windows and all your applications just as you would on a regular PC. You can also choose to have Fusion automatically integrate your Windows applications with macOS, so they look and feel like native Mac apps. 

This makes it easy to switch back and forth between operating systems without having to restart your computer. Overall, VMware Fusion is a great way to run Windows on a Mac, and it’s especially helpful if you need to use specific Windows applications.

Price: $149 to $241

Notable Features

  • Allows you to run Windows applications and Mac applications
  • DirectX 11 graphics enhancements and eGPU support
  • In-built snapshot functionality
  • Using the graphical user interface, you can connect to remote vSphere and ESXi servers.
  • OCI containers
  • Kubernetes cluster creation

Summary

VMware Fusion is a virtualization product that enables the end user to run multiple virtual machines on a single computer. It comes in two flavors: desktop and server. Desktop versions allow the end user to run Windows and Linux as guest operating systems without rebooting or switching the primary OS. 

Server versions allow the end user to run VMware virtual machines, Open Container Initiative (OCI) containers, and Kubernetes clusters. Both versions require a Mac with an Intel processor and macOS 10.13 or later. 

In addition, both versions support hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, multiple monitor support, Optimized for Mojave dark mode, and 4K monitor resolutions. Finally, both versions come with a free trial that allows the end user to try out all the features before purchasing a license.

Watch out for: The main downside of VMware Fusion is that it’s a bit pricey

3. KVM

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a full virtualization solution for Linux on x86 hardware. With proper support from your processor, KVM can run multiple virtual machines effectively with acceptable performance. 

KVM can perform comparably or better in some workloads than other type-2 hypervisors, such as VMware ESX Server or Citrix XenServer.  

The Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is a virtualization technology embedded in the Linux kernel. The purpose of KVM is to transform the kernel into a hypervisor, a platform on which multiple virtual machines can run.

 KVM supports both Linux and Windows virtual machines and can be used on PowerPC, ARM, and x86 hardware. If available, Intel’s VT-x or AMD-V can be used to improve virtual machine performance at the processor level. 

While KVM is a basic virtualization technology, it is also very efficient and easy to use. As a result, it has become a popular choice for many organizations that need to run multiple virtual machines on a single server.

Price: Free

Notable Features

  • Live virtual machine backup
  • Live Management console
  • Network and graphics adapters
  • Mass Storage

Summary

KVM requires a processor with hardware virtualization extensions, such as Intel VT or AMD-V. On an Intel processor, these extensions are sometimes disabled by default in the BIOS settings; on AMD processors, they are always enabled by default.

One key advantage that KVM has over other Type-2 hypervisors is that since it runs as part of the kernel, CPU hotplug operations do not require a reboot of the guest operating system as it does with other systems such as XenServer or VMware Workstation/ESX Server CPU hot add a feature where the guest operating system must be rebooted to detect the newly added processor(s). 

Another advantage that KVM has over some Type-2 hypervisors is that many guests can run unmodified since they are not required to have special drivers to run under KVM as would be necessary if using Xen para-virtualized drivers in a Xen-based system, for example.

Watch Out For: It is incompatible with most operating systems except FreeBSD and illumos because KVM is a Linux kernel module.

4. Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle’s “VirtualBox” is the father of all virtualization software. Even if the user interface appears a little dusty now, the VM software convinces through usability. 

Furthermore, VirtualBox is distributed as “Free and Open Source Software” (FOSS), a unique feature among commercial VM programs.

VirtualBox is the foundation for running virtual machines on a host system and is frequently used in conjunction with other specialized software. For example, the popular tool “Vagrant,” automates the creation of reproducible development environments. 

Vagrant bridges virtualization tools like VirtualBox, VMware, Hyper-V, and Docker and provisioning tools like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible.

Price:  Free

Notable Features

  • API
  • Data Synchronization
  • Authentication
  • Desktop Virtualization
  • Configuration Management
  • Remote Access/Control
  • DaaS
  • Graphical User Interface
  • Remote Monitoring & Management
  • VDI
  • Multi-Device Support
  • Remote Update / Installation

Summary

VirtualBox is an extremely feature-rich, high-performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2.

VirtualBox is a community effort backed by a dedicated company: everyone is encouraged to contribute, while Oracle ensures the product always meets professional quality criteria. 

Watch Out For: It is a bit difficult to set up.

5. Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop is a virtual machine program that enables users to run multiple operating systems on a Mac computer. The software creates a virtual environment where different operating systems can be installed and run side by side. This allows users to work with macOS and Windows applications without needing a dual boot setup. 

In addition, Parallels Desktop allows for seamless content sharing between Mac and Windows. Windows applications can be used like Mac applications by enabling “Coherence Mode.” This feature removes the need for frequent reboots, making it an essential tool for any Mac user who needs to use both macOS and Windows.

Price: $99.99 to $149.99

Notable Features

  • Seamless Navigation
  • Lock’n’Go Magnifying Glass 
  • Full-Screen Applications
  • App Launcher
  • iPad Multitasking
  • Optimized Screen Resolution
  • iOS pointer support

Summary

Parallels Desktop allows users to run Windows and macOS applications side by side. Users can drag and drop files between operating systems and access Windows applications from the macOS Dock.

In addition, users can connect their Windows 10 devices to their Macs using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. They can use Microsoft Cortana, the digital assistant, to manage their files and schedule appointments. 

Parallels Desktop is a versatile tool that makes it easy to switch between operating systems. It also supports Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS cloud services. 

Watch Out For:  Only supported by macs

Factors to Consider When Buying a Virtual Machine Software

Type of Business 

The first factor to consider when choosing virtual machine software is the type of business. If the business is a small or medium-sized business, then it might not need all the features that are offered by the enterprise-level virtual machine software.

For example, a small business might not need support for multiple processors or large amounts of memory.

Number of Employees

If the business has a large number of employees, then it will need virtual machine software that can support a large number of virtual machines. If the business has a small number of employees, then it might not need as many features and can get by with a less expensive virtual machine

memory. 

Type of Operating System

Another factor to consider is the type of operating system that the business uses. If the business uses a Windows server, it will need virtual machine software to run on a Windows server. If the business uses a Linux server, it will need virtual machine software to run on a Linux server. 

Ease of Use

The software should be easy to use and have a user-friendly interface. The software should be easy to install and should be compatible with the business’s existing IT infrastructure.

Budget

Virtual machine software can be expensive, so it is important to consider the cost before making a purchase.

In addition, many virtual machine software programs offer subscription-based pricing, so the business will need to factor in the cost of the subscription when making its decision.

Customer Support

The software should have good customer support in case there are any problems with the software. The company should offer live chat, email, and phone support. Customer support should be able to help the business resolve any issues the users have.

Why Use Virtual Machine Software?

If you’ve ever needed to test software or run multiple operating systems side-by-side, you know the importance of virtual machine software. 

A virtual machine allows you to create a “virtual” computer inside your actual computer. This virtual computer can run its operating system, and you can use it just like any other computer. 

Virtual machine software is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether testing new software or running multiple operating systems, it’s essential to any power user’s toolkit.

Conclusion

Our top pick for the best virtual machine software in 2023 is VMware Fusion. It is the most compatible virtual machine software for running Windows on a Mac. It is also very easy to use and has many features that make it a great choice for both home and business users.

If you are looking for free virtual machine software, then we recommend VirtualBox. It is open-source and cross-platform, making it a great choice for those who want to use it on multiple operating systems.

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