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Using VMware Workstation Pro as the perfect demo tool

Matthew Evans

Matthew Evans

By Matt Evans.

An EUC Senior Specialist SE based in the UK. Matt has been with VMware for 9 months and has been working in the Server based Computing\EUC space for 20 years. Outside of work he is interested in music and running, having completed the London Marathon in April.

As a member of the End User Compute Specialist Sales Engineer team, I use VMware’s cloud hosted demo environment 99% of the time. However, we have all been in the situation where we need to demonstrate the solution but there is no network connection available. That’s one of the reasons I built a VMware Horizon environment in Workstation Pro. The other reason is that the ‘techie’ in me wants to have an environment that I have free rein in. As well as my Horizon environment, I built a Windows 10 virtual machine so that I had a Windows 10 device to manage from my AirWatch demo lab.

The core virtual machines in my demo lab that runs in Workstation Pro is:

  • Windows 2012 R2 – Vmware Horizon Server
  • Windows 2008 R2 – Active Directory, DNS and DHCP
  • Windows 2012 R2 – Workspace ONE components
  • Windows 2012 R2 – RDS Host
  • Windows 10 – VDI desktop
  • Windows 8 – VDI desktop
  • Windows 10 – Managed endpoint by AirWatch (Saas)

As I said I am techie at heart and I like to use three 3rd party tools with my demo lab to enable me too deep dive, create screenshots and shadow my iPhone, now let me explain.

Apowersoft Phone Manager

VMware Workstation Pro supports USB devices which is critical to this tool. I can connect USB devices, such as my iPhone, to my laptop and map them through to the Virtual Machine. As part of my Horizon demo I always like to show the user experience from an iPhone connecting to a VDI or RDSH application as well as what the Workspace ONE portal looks like and what the user experience looks like.

Apowersoft Phone Manager is similar to iTunes, in the way it helps you manage your device. The one feature that it offers that iTunes does not, is the ability to shadow the device, you can see the Workspace ONE app running on my phone below. You can also switch to full screen mode. Being able to shadow the device means that can deliver a demo from my iPhone or iPad and display it through Workstation Pro and onto a larger screen, typically a projector.

I tend to make screenshots of this type of demo as well as documenting the setup and configuration of Horizon, for example. This leads me on nicely to the next tool.

Apowersoft Phone Manager

Apowersoft Phone Manager


Typically I deliver my product demonstrations out of VMware Test Drive, which is managed cloud environment, therefore software updates are managed centrally and not done by me. That’s one of the reasons I use Workstation Pro to run my own demo lab, so I can go through the experience of updating and managing the environment as I would like. When I go through the update I tend to take screenshots that I can then use for custom presentations or share with customers and partners so they know what to expect when they go through the updates themselves. It also helps to take screenshots to help articulate a configuration or specific feature with a customer when a real time screen-sharing tool is not an option. As Workstation Pro allows clipboard redirection between my host OS (laptop) and virtual machine it is very easy for me to take screenshots and then copy them out of the Virtual Machine into One Drive.

Within Lightscreen I configure a hotkey to take the screenshot, a directory to store the image in and also whether I want to capture the whole screen or just the active window – I tend to use the active window. Then I just run through my sequence, click the hotkey when required and finally when I have finished, copy the images out of the Virtual Machine and paste them to my local drive.

Apowersoft Phone Manager

Apowersoft Phone Manager

ASIDE: The one feature that could improve Lightscreen would be if you could also capture short video files, even if that was limited to say 10 seconds.

Apowersoft Phone Manager

Apowersoft Phone Manager


In my opinion, I have saved the best until last. Glasswire offers Network Monitoring, Threat Monitoring and a Firewall. Because my Virtual Machines are pretty isolated in Workstation Pro I am not really using the software for its main intended purpose. However, I love the Network Monitoring aspect. Being able to monitor the network gives me the visibility of what processes are running, what they are doing and what bandwidth they are using. A good example of its use case for me would be to look at the different protocols we support in Horizon and how they perform.

As you may know we support Blast, PCoIP and RDP within Horizon, and Glasswire enables me to monitor exactly what they are doing – sorry but I did warn you I was a techie at heart. The screenshot below shows all my active processes and their bandwidth usage over a 5 minute period, the time period can be adjusted as you can see in the top right corner.



Let me give you an example of a customer scenario. I was involved in a project where we planned to leverage the customer’s internal Java based VPN client to secure a connection for remote workers and then automatically trigger a connection to a cloud based Virtual Desktop. To be able to configure this process we needed to know which processes were active when a connection was established, if they only used HTTPS and what the differences would be if we connected using the HTML5 client rather than the standard Windows Client. Firstly I logged into my Windows client machine in Workstation Pro and launched the Horizon Client, I then made a connection to a hosted Windows 10 machine and checked Glasswire. From the image below you can see that the Horizon client has two processes running, both of which are making an HTTPS connection to the same host.



Secondly, I wanted to see how the Horizon connection varied when using the HTML5 client rather than the Windows client. The HTML5 client is represented by Chrome, as that was the browser I was using. It is still using HTTPS but in this instance it is a single connection to hv6emea.vmwdemo.com



With the help of this information we were able to configure the VPN client to pass these connections through giving the customer end users and simple and familiar use case.

Running Glasswire in a clean virtual machine in Workstation Pro is ideal as it allows me to remove many of the other processes that could dilute the information I am trying to gather,

Your Go

Without Workstation Pro I would have had to install my demo lab on my native endpoint, which just wouldn’t be viable due to requirements of AD, DHCP, DNS and in some case multiple versions of the same software. Another option would have been to pay for cloud resource to run the virtual machines. This generally is a good option but I want access to all the components, for example the Hypervisor or AD Controller, which is not always an option with Cloud based environments and I wanted to guarantee 100% control.

Try Workstation Pro for Windows, or Workstation Pro for Linux, for free, today.

Workstation 12.5.6 Now Available with Windows 10 Creators Update Support

We’re happy to announce some new updates to VMware Workstation 12.5, both Pro and Player editions.

In this release, versioned 12.5.6, we’ve improved support for the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update as both Host and Guest, as well as several bug, and security fixes.

You can grab the update by using the Check for Updates function in Workstation, or by visiting:


Check out the release notes here: http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/workstation/12/workstation-1256-release-notes.html

VMware Workstation 12.5.6


Hypervisor Security Matters



As I’m sure you noticed, we’ve delivered a flurry of patch-releases for Fusion and Workstation in the last few weeks. Want to know why? Because security matters.

More visibility

The Pwn2Own competition at the CanSecWest conference put a huge bounty on ‘vmescape‘. They’re not the first to do this, and they won’t be the last. And I want to be clear up front, we’re delighted that they helped us make our products more robust, and more secure.

For those not following this closely, ‘vmescape’ is the challenge of executing code on a host machine, that originated on a virtual machine. In other words, you have to execute something on a virtual computer, that tricks the hypervisor, such as Fusion, Workstation, ESXi, etc, in to passing that code through to the host computer, effectively breaking out of the guest with the intent of controlling or damaging the host.

While the successful exploits themselves are interesting to note, the likelihood of this causing actual damage to you, in the real world is pretty small. Partly because of the nature and complexity of the technology involved, and partly because of the bevy of unknowables of a real production system. Mike Foley, one of our foremost security gurus, notes:

“VM Escape is not the threat your security guy thinks it is. It’s really, really hard to do.”

Hard to do, but still imperative that we fix.  And so we have. With an abundance of gratitude to our incredibly talented security team, working directly with our multi-discipline engineering teams, we think we’ve been on top of things.

Platform security is critically important

Virtualization technology today is used more widely, and in more critical systems than ever. With VMware having such a prominent footprint both on the desktop and in the data center, we take our role and responsibility in this very seriously.

While many of our Fusion & Workstation customers are considered ‘consumers’,  (i.e. they have a single copy installed on their own personal machine), the majority of our customers are business, both small and large. Security for the end-user is important, but when we’re talking about corporate systems and virtual desktops that connect to those systems, the need for an air-tight virtualization stack becomes an imperative.

To that end, we’ve delivered 3 critical patches for both Fusion and Workstation (both Pro and Player), each addressing different security issues documented in our Security Advisory announcements (which can be found here), all within the past 3 weeks.

We understand that this makes it tricky for you. Updating software is never fun – even if it’s fully automated – and we appreciate the anxiety we may have caused you, but I hope you agree, it was worth it

Collaboration is Key

We’re very proud of our engineering teams. Cross collaboration between them is critical when addressing complex issues, made more difficult by the need for rapid delivery. And of course while patching is critical, maintaining a high level of product quality is something we refuse to compromise on.

We work directly with security researchers who demonstrate some pretty slick exploits at several security shows, and we’re keen to see that trend continue. In this day-and-age, when breaches and data privacy issues are making mainstream headlines, we couldn’t do this without the collaboration we get from the community. We are immensely grateful to you.

Now, Secure yourself

It’s always important to stay up to date with security patches for all software you own/use/control. If your software hasn’t auto-updated already, get the latest patches [here]. And while we have your security attention, we recently came up with a nice little way to use Fusion and Workstation to help increase both your own security and privacy when dealing with online threats.

For this use case, we have a nice summary infographic and video, with more detailed writeups for safely surfing the Internet with Fusion and Workstation [linked respectively].

Workstation now a part of the VMUG Advantage Program


Hi folks!

Here on the Personal Desktop team (which is the product group containing our Fusion and Workstation products), we love our users. We bend over backwards to make sure the products are secure, and work in a way that our users expect with regular new features and the stability we’ve all come to depend on.

In this vein, the VMware User Group, or VMUG, members are our most passionate and advanced users. These are the kind of users who rely on Fusion or Workstation to test  applications and operating systems locally before pushing to their bigger vSphere platform. They know virtualization inside and out, are our earliest adopters, and dedicate time to testing the latest and greatest from any vendor that wishes to have a footprint in their data center.

Which is why we’re very excited to announce that VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation are now included in the VMUG Advantage program!

The VMUG Advantage program includes the ‘VMUG EvalExperience’ subscription which provides exclusive access to 1-year evaluation licenses of VMware’s flagship products and solutions, for use as a learning tool in your home lab. In addition, you get:

  • EVALExperience
  • 20% Discount on VMware Training Classes
  • 20% Discount on VMware Certification Exams
  • $500 IBM SoftLayer Cloud Credit
  • 35% Discount on VMware Lab Connect
  • $100 Discount on VMworld Attendance

The full list of products in the EVALExperience program includes:

  • VMware Workstation Pro 12.5
  • VMware Fusion Pro 8.5
  • VMware vCenter Server Standard for vSphere 6
  • VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus
  • VMware vCloud Suite Standard
  • VMware vRealize Operations
  • VMware vRealize Log Insight
  • VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon
  • VMware Horizon Advanced Edition
  • VMware vSAN

If you’re an admin who works with VMware’s products, there’s never been a better time or reason to join the VMUG Advantage program!

Using Workstation to Browse the Web More Safely

Did you know you can use VMware Workstation or Fusion to safely browse the web? Check out our video and learn more below!


A quick History Lesson

During the Internet’s infancy, ‘Surfing’ the World Wide Web was an exhilarating experience. (complete with a soundtrack!)  It wasn’t called ‘Web Surfing’ without good reason, although we don’t really refer to it that way anymore.

The Internet was great, but in addition to being a place to share ideas it needed to be a place for consumer commercial activity in order to gain the resources (i.e. corporate sponsorship and investment) needed to grow.

Online retail had overtaken buying things from brick-and-morter stores as far back as 2013, and the statistics only show Internet usage growing.

With bring the most connected generation in the history of the world, we are also now gathering more information than ever.

Things start to go Wrong

We now live in a world where a simple transparent 1×1 pixel .gif can be used to follow and track our online behaviour an endless number of sites across all of your devices. Social media hooks are built into every page for shareability, allowing groups like Facebook, Twitter and Google to learn more about what you click than ever before.

On the darker side of that equation, you have lots of potential for misuse and abuse of this new distributed digital landscape. Ad networks can unknowingly distribute malware, pages can ‘click-bait’ you into accidentally opening a barrage of popups or worse, and mobile devices have not had the same maturity as desktop devices so their ability to block unknown threats is minimal at best.

A Potential Solution

So, what does this have to do with VMware or VMware Workstation?

Workstation can be used to isolate all of this behaviour away from the computer that you are using, keeping you safe and protected.

Because of the isolation provided by the VMware hypervisor technology, using a virtual machine in Workstation effectively creates a sandbox for a second (or third, or fourth…) Operating System on the same computer you’re running.

It runs it the new OS in an isolated way with respect to Memory, CPU, and physical hardware devices. To be cliche about it: “What happens in the VM stays in the VM.”

So when something attacks a browser that’s running in a Virtual Machine sandbox, it has no way of impacting the main computer where you might have more sensitive information stored, like credit card or account numbers or access to otherwise protected networks that are available to the host computer.

And because it’s a virtual machine, you can do other interesting things as well, such as having a ‘snapshot’ for a roll back point, put it on a different network than the physical computer itself, or even bring that same VM to different computers to avoid having to use someone else’s browser.

Kid Friendly Internet-ing

It also makes sense if you have kids. I helped my sister out by having my nephew use a virtual machine. He double-clicks the ‘Kids Internet’ button on the desktop, it fires up a Linux virtual machine, and everything that he and his little brother click on can be easily undone by rolling back to a snapshot taken earlier.

It’s an interesting use case, and makes a lot of sense, especially for the privacy-conscious. There are OS’s out there designed specifically for anonymity such as Tails, Discreete Linux, Whonix, or Qubes OS.

We really think that our users would get a lot of benefit from this sort of a setup, so we put together a short Infographic and Video to share the story.

Have a look!


Every Day Is Thanksgiving

Yes, I know that’s a cheesy title, but in the office where we control Workstation and Fusion every day starts with a conversation about you. We talk about things that are trending on Twitter & Facebook, what’s happening on our community forums, and what people are asking us in our inboxes.

Some days it’s all good news, others it bad. Often it’s a mixture, but every day we’re grateful that you’re engaged with us, so that together we can build a better product.

Back in the summer we ran a competition to see what you’d say about us on YouTube. The results surprised us. I can honestly say that we were not expecting the volume of entries that our little give-away generated.

We are truly thankful that you are our customer.

Please stay engaged. Negative or positive, we want to hear your thoughts on the current product, and where you think it should go next.

In the meanwhile, in no order, here’s my favorite top 10 videos from the competition

The one with the cute kid

The one about a zoo

The product demo we should have made ourselves

The one about a whole career

The one that scared us a bit

The other one with cute kids

The one with the gamer

The one with the dog

And finally, the third one with a cute kid

Thank you

Black Friday sale is now live!



It’s that time of year again! Our biggest sale of the year is now live on store.vmware.com!


VMware Workstation target at the PwnFest hacking competition

VMware Workstation is among the targets of the PwnFest hacking competition. At this event, which is organized along the Power of Community security conference in Seoul, security researchers are demonstrating their attack capabilities. The event is modeled after the well-known Pwn2Own competition.

Earlier today at the event, the 360 Marvel Team and security researcher Lokihardt (JungHoon Lee) used the same issue to demonstrate that they could execute code on the VMware Workstation host from the guest. We have received details on this issue directly from the researchers and we are now working on a solution. We have confirmed that the issue is limited to VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion and that ESXi is not affected.

We would like to thank the organizers of the event, the 360 Marvel Team, and Lokihardt for working with us to address the issue.

November 13 update
Today, we’ve published VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2016-0019 which documents the release of VMware Workstation 12.5.2 and VMware Fusion 8.5.2. These new Workstation and Fusion versions address the issue that was demonstrated at the PwnFest event. The issue has been assigned CVE identifier CVE-2016-7461.

– VMware Security Response Center and VMware Workstation Team

VMware Workstation for Businesses

Did you know that VMware Workstation Pro makes it easy to manage a fleet of “Bring Your Own Device” users?

By managing local desktop virtualization endpoints and users with VMware Horizon FLEX, businesses have more control than ever before. Use Workstation Pro to create your ‘Gold Master’ templates and then share those with end users to run using Workstation Player. The templates can be restricted and even encrypted, and managed from the central Horizon FLEX console.

Even when used un-namaged, Workstation Pro and Workstation Player allows BYOD PC’s to live in the enterprise like never before. Users can run the corporate desktop, complete with custom windows-only applications developed in-house, right from their personal Windows or Linux PC.

Want to learn more? Check out our video and then come visit our VMware Workstation and Horizon FLEX product pages!


VMware Workstation for Developers

Did you know that VMware Workstation is a key tool when developing and testing applications?

Learn more in this new video!