After discontinuation: VMware Player, Workstation and Fusion seems to remain

Stop - Pixabay[German]After VMware discontinued many of its products with purchase licenses on sale as of 15 January 2024 and switched to subscription solutions, the question was what the future holds for desktop virtualization. Here I can give a small all-clear for users of VMware desktop virtualization products. Currently, VMware Workstation, VMware Workstation Player and VMware Fusion for the Mac are to be retained (for the time being) and continue to be sold. What has remained unclear to me is how ESXi could continue.


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Discontinuation of perpetual licenses

Let's take a brief look back at the situation. Since the purchase of VMware by Broadcom (see Broadcom acquires VMware for 61 billion US-$), the company has been reorganizing. Broadcom is now focusing on subscription models and the cloud in the corporate business (see Broadcom plans to sell VMware end-user computing and carbon black businesses).

All VMware partners had been terminated by Broadcom as of February 2024 (see Contracts for all VMware partners terminated by Broadcom for 2024). Broadcom will only conclude new partner agreements there if the partners achieve significant sales in the new business segment. As part of this changeover, Broadcom has now also ended the sale of all products with purchase licenses (perpetual licenses) at VMware. The whole thing was already foreshadowed last week, as I outlined in the blog post VMware OEM portal offline, customers cannot activate VMware licenses.

On 15 January 2024, many VMware products for virtualization in the corporate environment were officially discontinued. I reported on this in detail in the blog post Broadcom ends perpetual licenses for VMware products – End of the free ESXi server? This is likely to affect many companies that are currently still using VMware ESXi (vSphere) for virtualization. My guess is that OEMs such as Lenovo and HP will also no longer be able to offer servers with ESXi purchase licenses.

VMware Workstation & Co. remains

The above information has caused an "earthquake" for many administrators and I have read from some that they are already switching to Proxmox as a virtualization solution. It was unclear what would happen with the VMware desktop virtualization products. The products VMware Workstation, VMware Workstation Player and VMware Fusion for the Mac are not included in the list of VMware products that are being discontinued.

German blog reader Rudolf H. contacted me, because he uses VMware Workstation Pro for desktop virtualization. He had gone searching and came across an article from December 2023 on the VMware blog. There, Michael Roy, product manager for desktop hypervisors such as VMware Fusion and Workstation, addresses the question of what will become of the Fusion and Workstation product groups after Broadcom announced a realignment towards subscription offerings and cloud.


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Michael Roy writes that VMware by Broadcom will continue to focus on the desktop hypervisor products and platform. Users will still be able to purchase and use the vendor's desktop hypervisor applications. The "Free for Personal Use" editions of Fusion Player and Workstation Player can also be downloaded and used as before.

Not clear what it means for ESXi

What remains unclear for me in Roy's VMware article, however, is the question of what the virtualization solution ESXi (and the free version) will look like. Michael Roy writes that the desktop hypervisor applications use the same code as ESXi. This would allow the products to improve each other and combine their strengths with the scope and reach of the community.

Workstation supports the development of ESXi in this scenario because it allows VMware to test new features, while ESXi helps to make Workstation the leading desktop hypervisor application, according to the blog post in question. The interesting question, however, is whether licenses for ESXi will continue to be available for purchase. In the blog post Broadcom ends perpetual licenses for VMware products – End of the free ESXi server? I mentioned the following products, among others:

  • VMware vSphere Desktop
  • VMware vSphere Essentials Kit
  • VMware vSphere Basic
  • VMware vSphere Hypervisor

for which VMware by Broadcom has announced the "end of availability (EOA) for all license options". vSphere Hypervisor, however, contains the ESXi Free version. We will probably have to wait and see whether something like a subscription solution for ESXi users will be offered (in which case the free ESXi virtualization solution could live on).

I have had recently a telephone conversation with a person from a distributor, which told me, that a new "subscription model" will take effect from February – the previous CPU license models for vSphere are dead. With the new license models, it doesn't really make sense anymore, to sell VMware products, was his the quintessence.

I am no longer really optimistic about the future of "VMware by Broadcom". They haven't had a "good run" in recent months and I read over a year ago that VMware product development was shaky or could die. Let's wait and see what new findings emerge over the next few days. If anyone (e.g. from the VMware partners) has more information, they can left a comment.

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One Response to After discontinuation: VMware Player, Workstation and Fusion seems to remain

  1. Tarhib says:

    Broadcom, the company that acquired VMware, is focusing on subscription models. This means you might need a subscription to use VMware Player in the future, even though the free version might still be available for the time being.

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