The Finest Digital Machines for 2020

Virtual machines have become an integral part of computing. They are particularly important for companies that run cloud applications and for home users. The most important function of a virtual machine is that users can run multiple operating systems.

Why is it important to run different operating systems? Because you can run a wide variety of apps without worrying about system requirements. Of course, it's the right virtual machine that makes the difference.

Daniel Martin / screenshot

VMware has been in the game of the virtual machine since 1998 and offers three different virtualization software: VMware Workstation Pro, VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Player.

The Workstation Pro package is ideal for professional users who want a powerful virtual machine that can run applications on multiple guest operating systems at the same time. VMware & # 39; s Fusion is a simpler application for home users who want to run Windows on their Mac. It supports iMac displays.

On the flip side, VMware Workstation Player, which until recently was known as VMware Player, is an attractive entry-level option: if you're using it for personal (non-commercial, non-profit) use, you can download a free version. It is an excellent solution for a single home computer and is widely used by people who want to familiarize themselves with a different operating system or who want to add extra security to their computing activities – available for both Windows and Linux. The professional version starts at $ 150 and is activated by a license key, though discounts are available for college faculties, staff, students, and even parents.

In terms of pricing, VMware has a unique pricing model with different options for all virtual products. There is a tier of support levels and conditions that businesses can choose from, as well as a discounted option when upgrading from an older version of the software to the latest model. Neither option is easy to use, but installation is quick, integration between operating systems is seamless, and the guest software runs at near native speeds. Best of all, they remain the most stable, reliable options out there. Note that a 64-bit operating system is required for the downloads.


When it comes to bringing the Windows experience to Mac users, Parallels Desktop 15 is unparalleled. The latest version of the software is compatible with the latest version of macOS so you can emulate Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10 as the guest operating system (although you may wish to since support for Windows XP and 7 has ended, be careful what you get with it do). You can also conveniently run Mac and Windows applications side-by-side without rebooting, while providing tools to quickly move files between operating systems, launch programs right from your Mac dock, and access cloud storage.

The latest version includes several more tricks such as: B. the ability to send email attachments directly from the Finder, exchange screenshots between operating systems, compatibility with Sidecar and Apple Pencil and many other welcome new functions.

The software has a simple setup wizard for beginners and supports retina displays and advanced 3D graphics with DirectX 9 to 11. Parallels can also emulate the Linux and Solaris operating systems. However, the closest integration is when it is coupled with the latest version of Windows. In addition to the basic software, there is also a professional version with better integration, support and network options, as well as a business version for management at company level. New licenses are available for $ 80 and an upgrade to the latest version costs $ 40.


VirtualBox is powerful, packed with great features, and most importantly, free. It is a slimmed-down software that requires little more than a current Intel or AMD processor and offers seamless integration and switching functions on the host desktop. It is also available on all major platforms and offers plain text XML files for easy navigation. It remains coupled with special software packages designed to help users share folders and drives between guest and host operating systems.

The software works almost identically regardless of the host platform and even offers 3D virtualization, resolutions for several screens and commendable hardware support, among other things. The latest updates include new virtual machine compatibility for Oracle Cloud (VirtualBox is managed by Oracle, so this type of compatibility is essential for the software), support for nested hardware virtualized on Intel CPUs, Linux host / guest functions , GUI fixes and additional 3D support. It's not the fastest or most dynamic when compared to similar offerings, but quality often comes with a high price. Fortunately, both support and updates are excellent – although you may need some technical knowledge to make everything work the way you want it to.

Gnome boxes

Gnome's Boxes is a virtualization creation and management tool developed for Linux that can help you customize all kinds of virtualization tools – from specific workstation setups to activating operating systems. The simple, elegant user interface allows you to easily see at any time which virtualization systems you have and how they work. If you're looking for an easy-to-use virtualization solution for Linux, give Gnome Boxes a try: it works great with QEMU and Virt Manager, which are ideal tools for more back-end work.

Note that boxes automatically assign resources for virtualization based on manufacturer recommendations. If Boxes cannot find any recommendations or virtualization information from the processor, it will automatically allocate 20 GB of memory and 500 MB of RAM. So be prepared for it.

Apple's Boot Camp is literally not a virtual machine, but it's worth a mention as people looking for virtual machines are often curious about them. The software included on all Macs allows users to dual boot both MacOS and Windows. Rather than emulating an operating system, Boot Camp lets you set up a partition on the hard drive so you can install the Windows operating system of your choice. Since it runs directly from the hard drive, running Windows through Boot Camp results in a far better experience than any virtual machine.

However, your storage space will be split in half and you won't be able to run the best Mac apps and Windows apps side by side. The software requires hard drive partitioning. You must also restart your computer every time you want to change operating systems.

It's worth noting that while Boot Camp is not itself a virtual machine, you can run your Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine using Parallels 14 (see above). This utility gives you quick access to Windows when you want it on macOS and full power when you have enough time to restart your computer and start Windows right away.

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