Windows Vista Performance in VMware Workstation 6.0

One of the great new features in VMware Workstation 6.0 is its Windows Vista support. Vista can be used as the host operating system (HOS) and the guest operating system (GOS) for VMware Virtual Machines (VM). The question to us is how well Vista performs in VMware Workstation 6.0. This actually contains two sub-questions. (1) What is the performance of Vista as the HOS? (2) What is the performance of Vista as the GOS? To answer these two questions, we did a comparison of Windows Vista and Windows XP performance.

To answer Question (1), we ran experiments using the same virtual machine on the two different HOS’s (Vista and XP) and compared the results. We ran a set of workloads to measure the CPU, memory, disk and network performance of the VM. Vista host performance is on par with XP, except that Vista itself consumes more memory than XP. This means that Vista leaves less memory for the use of VM’s than XP.

To answer Question (2), we compared a Vista VM against an XP VM both on an XP host. We ran the same set of workloads as for the Vista host experiments described above. While Vista guest performance is on par with XP in most of our workloads, we did find a few cases that perform worse on the Vista VM than on the XP VM. To understand why Vista was slower in those particular cases, we conducted the same measurements on native physical systems, rather than on virtual machines. We found that Vista is slower than XP on native hardware almost to the same degree as on virtual hardware. This made it clear that VMware Workstation 6.0 wasn’t introducing any Vista-specific overheads, and that the relative performance on Vista is as good as on XP.

The chart below shows some representative results from our experiments. The bars represent the ratio of Vista to XP performance when comparing the Host OS, the Guest OS and native. The benchmarks shown are: gzip from the SPEC CPU2000 suite, PassMark PerformanceTest, Iometer disk workloads, Netperf networking send/receive, and boot/halt (time taken to boot and immediately halt the OS). The workloads had minimal variations from run to run, e.g. around 3% in performance.


In conclusion, Windows Vista works great with VMware Workstation 6.0! Go ahead and have fun with our cool virtualization technology!

VMware Workstation 6.0 supports both 32-bit and 64-bit Vista. Our conclusion here holds for both 32-bit and 64-bit.

Please refer to "Performance Tuning and Benchmarking Guidelines for VMware Workstation 6" for more information about Workstation 6.0 performance.


47 comments have been added so far

  1. When I try to Import Vista (Local or Remote) into VMware 6, I get the following error:
    “Unable to determine guest operating system”
    What can I do to succeed ?

  2. Regarding Hornung’s question, VMware Workstation 6.0 does not support importing Vista into a VM.

  3. How can you say Vista is on a par with XP as the guest. I cannot get Vista to run without 100% cpu utilization, and I noticed many other people are having the same problem. I have a bare bones trial implementation with only Vista and Office 2007 and the performance is horrid without a clear indication of where the problem lies.

  4. Performance depends on the workload you run. It is possible that some workload favors XP over Vista. For most of our tested workloads, Vista guest performance is on par with XP. We would like to hear from you about the kind of workload that creates trouble to virtual machine performance, so that we can improve our product.
    On the other hand, we tried to reproduce Mike’s measurement using the same configuration as his environment. We did not find any problem. If you do face some performance issue, please use VMTN at http://www.vmware.com/vmtn/. We would like to answer your questions there.

  5. I created a Vista VM using VMWare Workstation 6.0 (Host Win XP Pro). Moved the just created Vista VM to another machine with different hardware configuration and running VMWare Workstation 6.0 (Host Win Server 2003). Now VMWare fails to convert the configuration of the machine. How to overcome this issue?

  6. I’m using Vista 32-bit as the Host OS with VMW6 running Win2k3 as the Guest OS. It works well. However I’m wondering how Vista’s SuperFetch feature affects VMW. SuperFetch keeps RAM utilization high by pre-caching pages based upon application usage history and heuristics. With a VM, the file Vista sees being used a lot will be one large virtual HDD representing the Guest OS and I doubt that Vista can superfetch the entire file into memory since the virtual HDD file will be several GB in size (depending on the config of the guest oS system). Superfetch is smarter because it makes use of the host system RAM, whereas in XP and earlier OS’, a lot memory remains “free” and unutilized efficiently from a cache perspective. Any ideas on how VMW and Vista superfetch play with each other and any tweaks that can help boost VM performance?

  7. Vista SuperFetch does not necessarily prefetch the entire virtual disk into memory. As you have said, Vista prefetches pages, not the entire file. SuperFetch gathers page usage histories from Vista Memory Manager and decides what to preload. If a large portion of the virtual disk is inactive, those data shall not be SuperFetched.

  8. i just installed VMware 6.0 on my vista platform and all i get on trying to run the VM is Application failure hr=0x80004003:(null)
    could someone eel me sort this out.I need the VM so badly.cant do without it.

  9. Hi,
    I am trying to figure out if it is possible to install VMWare Workstation 5.5 on Windows Vista Business (Host OS). My company has a license for 5.5 but not for VMWare W 6.0. 🙁

  10. Looking at the graph, it appears that a Vista VM has similar performance to Native (ie. physical hardware) Vista machine? Or am I reading this wrong? how much slower is a Vista VM than a physical machine?
    Thank you for any help!

  11. The graph does not show the VM-to-native performance ratio. Typically, virtualization overhead varies for different workloads. For most of the benchmarks we show here, the overhead is very small. But, it is also possible to create a benchmark showing higher overhead.

  12. Don’t bother with workstation 6 (WS6) or MS virtual PC/Server products.
    WS6 has not installed after 4 attempts and many registry hacks.
    MS VPC is just poor.
    I’m now trying virtualbox, hoping for a better rest.

  13. Peter,
    Would you kindly provide more details on your WS6 installation process? I will ask other VMware fellows for a solution, if I can’t resolve it.
    1. What kind of host operating system you are using?
    2. What is your machine model, processor type, memory size, etc?
    3. What error messages you have got?
    4. Why do you need to do some registry hacks?

  14. I have Vista SP1 as the HOS & am trying to get an XP SP3 guest working with VMWare Workstation 6. The problem is that the mouse does not work properly. You can click in the VM & it registers, but clicking on a button does not work. The keyboard works fine. Have installed the VM Additions & checked hardware acceleration, all as should be. This VM works perfectly on XP HOS

  15. I’ve installed VMware 6 on Vista as HOS with XP as GOS – no issue at all even the 3D support – now will try vista as GOS

  16. people pls help me in resolving the “Application failure. hr = 0x80004003: (null)” problem….
    the rapidshare downloaded file also does not work..
    ny one has any better ideas to solve it???
    pls help me. i am in desperate need of vm ware work station guest operating sys…..

  17. Hi, I have the same problem…
    Application failure. hr = 0x80004003: (null)
    You know a solution?

  18. I have a vista home system, and am hoping that it will support
    an XP pro image from another box, with no other software necessary to be installed, than vmware workstationv.6 (installed on both boxes)…is this true, in general…? I assume that it’s not necessary to partition the hose host vista beforehand etc…. I simply have a hi8ge investment in XP software, that I hope to preserve in my vista environment (that I foolishly purchsed without more
    many thanks for nay perspectives….

  19. Sorry for the typos above.
    Of course, I will have a “player” on the host.
    I have a “high” investment in the XP software, and am not fond of vista (a euphemism.)
    Is VMWARE 6 for Windows likely to work for my situation?

  20. VMware Workstation 6 shall work fine for your purpose. You don’t need to partition your disk. Install VMware Workstation first. Then create a Virtual Machine, which generates a few files on your Vista file system. At last, install your XP on the Virtual Machine.

  21. Thank you MBERKAN, the download worked! I just ran the batch file, it fixed my registry files for vmware, and now i do not get that pesky 80004003 error!
    Thanks man 😀

  22. the download didnt work for me, the error still exists, im running Vista Hoem Premium SP1, on AMD Athlon 62 X2 Dual core 5000+, with 2 gigs of ram… but still the dodgy 0x80004003 error…

  23. I am using vista and when I installed VMWare 6.0 it stopped my peripherals from working on boot so I couldn’t log into my computer. I had to system restore which didn’t work then I had to go into boot options (F8) and select Last known good configuration and that fixed it but then when I tried to run VMWare again the error “Access violation read at address 0x00(some other numbers)” appeared. I guess this just isn’t made for vista which is a shame cause everything was perfect on XP.

  24. I was also getting the application failure . hr = 0x80004003:(null) error. Thanks MBERKAN, that fix worked perfectly.

  25. I have a Vista 64-Bit Desktop, and I am trying to run 6.5 VMWare Workstation. I set up a VM and when I power it on I get the following message. (This message occurs no matter what VM I create):
    VMWare Workstation cannot connect to the virtual machine. Make sure you have rights to run the program to access all directories it uses and rights to access all directories for temporary files.
    I tried Run As Administrator, I activited the Admin account in Vista, and ran program under the context of that account with same results.
    Can anyone help? Thank you in advance.

  26. I am usign vmware server on my vista. i am going to make virtual machine of xp or 2003 in vm. but i play the virtual machine for installing os it takes alot of time then it gives blue screen and restart my laptop. kindly tell me why this problem occur.

  27. I was well incorporated with this fact that Windows has a cookie cleaner and a defrag facility installed as default. However, those features are not so powerful and the registry software must be able to perform those tasks in a professional way. Harmful ActiveX components might be installed on your computer if you are not using this solution. A toolkit that you could find useful is the file recovery so you can repair any damage to your important files. Look for a file splitter if you want to break your big files into smaller archives.

  28. VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 (Desktop and Mobility Deployment) – The industry-recognized VCAP6-DTM Deploy certification validates that you know how to deploy and optimize VMware Horizon 6 (with View) environments. It proves that you have the knowledge and abilities essential to leverage best practices to provide a scalable and reliable Business Mobility platform for your company. Some of the topics include: Configuring and managing Horizon View components, configuring cloud pod archituecture, configuring Group Policy settings related to Horizon View, Configuring and optimizing desktop images for Horizon View & Mirage, Configuring and managing App Volumes AppStacks, Configuring desktop pools, Configuring and deploying ThinApp packaged applications, Configuring VMWare Identity Manager, etc.Sebastian’s take on the VCAP6 examination: “In my personal thoughts and opinions VCAP6 exam is way better experience as compared with VCAP5, the newest exam looks exactly like VMware HOL. The user interface is effortless, questions are prepared on the right area of the display, and can be concealed aside or restored when needed. My advise on the questions window: if you wish to make it floating, you better know how to restore it back. I ended up shifting it around for the reason that I forget how to restore it back. The 2 arrows that seemed like buttons on the top were designed to dock the window to right of left. Fonts could be resized, which i believe was considerably better than scrolling up and down the question. The reaction speed of the entire interface was so faster in comparison with VCAP5.5, and there wasn’t any lagging time experienced when transitioning from window to window. One thing to keep in mind: BACKSPACE key is not working! I think it is beneficial because you don’t reload your examination window by mistake, nonetheless, it can be bothersome sometimes whenever you type some thing erroneously and you have to select and press Del to remove. The Desktop and shortcuts were organized quite nicely, and all important applications like web browser or Mirage console can be launched. You will find a superb user interface for Remote Desktop Manager where you’ll discover all essential RDP connection to servers or desktops with no need to type username and password. The web browser had all the links in the Favorite Bar. Right at that moment I’m writing this, there’s no extra Thirty minute extension for Non-Native English speaker at No-Native English country, which is a bummer. You will find 39 question to fill out within the three hours period, and this can be actually quite hard for non-native English speakers like me. Quite a few questions take time to complete, so it is a good idea to avoid the questions that you can’t respond to, and finish those you are able to. By the end of the 39 questions, you could visit the uncompleted questions if you have time. Don’t waste a long time on one single question! The exam blue print are available on my site at Szumigalski.com. It is well-organized and following it for the exam preparation can help a great deal. Of course, the best is if you’ll have a lot of hands on experience! I’m actually very happy with the examination experience, despite the fact that I passed this time around by small margin, however i really know what I missed for the exam, study from the mistakes and practice harder to familiarise myself with the environment. This qualification is going to open up your job prospects!”

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