Probably like most of my readers, I’ve always been an early adopter. New version of Windows? Yeah, I’m running it. Latest version of an application? I was on the beta team. I think IT people instinctively want to be on the cutting edge of technology and crave change.
From a professional standpoint, it’s imperative that we stand where users fear to tread. In many cases, it’s the only way we can verify operability of our required software to make sure that, if we choose to adopt this new technology, its transition is smooth and without any career-tainting repercussions.
Using virtual machines can be a great way to try out things in a protected environment. It can also be an interesting way to expand the use of a single machine to being a multi-use device. Allow me to share a story with you…
Once upon a time, I was happily running Windows 7 on a 17″ HP laptop (desktop replacement). Everything was fine and Windows 8 came out. (Ssshhh, quiet down with all that noise). I made the jump and did an upgrade to Windows 8 (fun thing to do over the Christmas holiday, right?).
It all ran pretty groovy for a few weeks but then one day it just wouldn’t boot. That fancy little spinning, dotted circle I thought was so cool I now hated. I couldn’t get past it. I spent hours a day for three days on the phone with Microsoft before I got to the point I didn’t want to get to – starting over.
Okay, sh*t happens and I decided I would bite the bullet, do a fresh install from scratch and all would be well. It was – for a few weeks. Then… the same thing. All spinning circle, no boot. I was pissed.
Every since I worked with this bunch Georgia Tech guys who all had Macs, I’d wanted a MacBook of my very own. That was it. I’d made the decision. The pain was bad enough to try something different and I wanted to do it.
PROBLEM: I need a Microsoft Development environment (aka Visual Studio). Not to mention tools like SQL Management Studio and other legacy apps that are Windows only.
SOLUTION: VMWare to the rescue with VMWare Fusion for the Mac! In over two years, I can honesty say that the most reliable Windows PC I’ve ever owned has been on my Mac.
It’s also a blast to test drive different Linux distros (it can install them right from an ISO file) and I’ve had some great experiences doing so. I also have access to Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 by just turning on a VM.
That being said, get ready to ramp up on disk space and memory. Remember if you’re allocating 20-100G per install and you want to run 4G of RAM, plus your Mac, plus your Mac apps (think Photoshop) you’d better invest in a beefy 16G to make it all work without pulling your hair out (like I have any left).
VMWare certainly isn’t the only game in town. There’s plenty of others to choose from, some are even free and work well. I’ve just had a really great experience with VMWare and found it’s cost to be very reasonable ($50).
No matter what virtual machine solution you choose, it’s something that is a really neat thing to have and use. It can save you TONS of hassle, hardware and money by using VMs. I think you’ll like it.