VMware Workstation 7, Unity

XP VM Screenshot

For anyone that hasn’t downloaded the RC for VMware Workstation 7, you’ve got to give it a try, and since it’s free right now, you have no excuse.  Worst case scenario is you have to reinstall Workstation 6.  Like Nike, Just Do It!

Anyway, one of the coolest features in VMware Workstation 7 is Unity.  If you don’t know what that is, you can have a VM running in the background, but you’re able to access applications that are running on it without having to enter the VM itself.

Keep reading…

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XP VM VI Client

Inside my XP VM, I’m running the Windows VPN client, the VI / vSphere Client, and notepad.

Click on the View menu of VMware Workstation 7, then click Unity. In a few seconds, Unity will engage, minimizing VMware Workstation and bringing the running applications from that virtual machine into your host environment, in my case, Windows 7.


As you can see, VMware Workstation is running in the background and in a minimized window.


The VI / vSphere Client that is running, is running in an XP VM that is VPN’d into my network.  Notepad is also running in the VM.  That explains part of the functionality, but it doesn’t seem to be as useful if you have to open up the VM to access its start menu and start a new application.  You don’t have to. 😉

VM start menu

Nested into your host OS, is the XP VM start menu.  All you have to do is hover over the start menu and you’ll see the virtual machine’s name.  You can see it in the screenshot above in red.  Click on red label and the VM’s start menu will appear.  You can now start any application that lives in the VM’s start menu and it will appear in the host OS.

To exit Unity mode, simply open workstation to the tab of your VM and click the Exit Unity button.  Everything is back to the way it was.  This has to be some of the coolest functionality that VMware has added, besides running ESX in VM being supported. 😉

exit unity

Just for the record, closing Workstation will end Unity even though Workstation will still be running in the background.  There are some options to look at when setting up Unity.

The preferences are specific to each Virtual Machine so you’ll access them under the VM > Settings menu.  You can assign colors to each of your running VMs.

Unity Preferences


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