VMware Workstation and Fusion Pro desktop hypervisors are now free for personal use

What just happened? IT giant Broadcom is increasing its efforts to turn the majority of its business into a subscription-only model. After acquiring virtualization specialist VMware, the sprawling multinational conglomerate is now giving away VMware desktop applications to end customers and lone professionals.

While the company was still busy assimilating VMware’s virtualization business, Broadcom confirmed in 2023 that the line of Workstation desktop virtualization software wasn’t going anywhere. Workstation will be part of VMware even after the Broadcom acquisition, although license conditions will change.

As announced by VMware product manager Michael Roy, the “Pro” editions of the Workstation desktop hypervisors are now free for personal use for owners of Windows, Linux, and Mac systems. Workstation Pro and Workstation Fusion Pro for Mac will essentially replace the previously available free editions of VMware desktop hypervisors for PC (Workstation Player) and Mac (Fusion Player).

Workstation and Fusion provide an easy way to create and manage virtual machines from a desktop PC for testing different operating systems and applications with potential security risks. Roy said that the desktop hypervisors are the first VMware products that many professionals have ever used, and they remain important tools for practicing virtualization as well as learning the fundamentals of the vSphere platform.

While end users will be able to employ the unrestricted Workstation Pro applications to create and manage virtualized operating systems, professional users will still need to pay their fair share to get the same results. Broadcom is now offering a single, subscription-based option for using the hypervisors in a commercial environment. This eliminates the more than 40 Workstation products that were previously available through VMware resellers, Roy said.

The new subscription can be purchased from any Broadcom Advantage partner. A new reseller, Digital River, has been brought to support customers that don’t have a pre-existing commercial account. Workstation Pro subscriptions will cost $120 per year; previously available perpetual licenses cost $195. Downloads for free editions of Workstation hypervisors are available through Broadcom’s new support portal, which requires user registration.

Workstation and Fusion brought an “immeasurable value” to the virtualization community over the past 25 years, VMware said, and they will keep providing one of the most powerful VM platform out there for the foreseeable future. Workstation heritage can be dated back to the very first product VMware ever shipped, which was simply called “VMware 1.0” back in 1999.

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