11 BEST Virtual Machine Software For Windows [PAID and FREE]

This in-depth review and comparison talk about the top Virtual Machine Software to create a secure virtualized environment using a paid or free VM software:

Virtual Machine app, or VM app, is a program that simulates the virtual computing environment. The virtual machine is created on a host operating system of a computer. The VM app creates virtual CPU, storage, memory, network interface, and other devices.

The adoption of virtual machine applications is increasing due to simplicity and flexibility in testing apps in a secure environment. In this tutorial, we will review the best Virtual Machine software for Windows.

Virtual Machine (VM) Software

Best Virtual Machine (VM) Software for Windows

Fact Check: Virtual Machines (VM) demand among corporations is increasing globally. Over 33 percent of large enterprises in America and Europe use Citrix Virtual Desktop, while 22 percent use VMWare VM app, according to a survey report.

The following chart shows the virtual machine market adoption among businesses in America and Europe:

Business Adaptation of VM Software

[image source]

Pro-Tip: Look at the supported host and guest OS when selecting a virtual machine app. These apps support specific versions of the OS. You should make sure that the VM app meets your requirements of creating a virtualized environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What is virtual machine software?

Answer: A virtual machine application allows for the testing of new applications in a secure virtualized environment for free. The VM app simulates a computer environment that mimics computer architecture and provides the same functionality as computer hardware. You can find both commercial and free VM software.

Also Read =>> VirtualBox Vs VMware tutorial

Q #2) Are virtual machines legal?

Answer: Using a virtual machine is legal if you own a licensed operating system. You must also have the license for the software that you want to test in a virtual environment.

Q #3) What are the uses of a virtual machine tool?

Answer: Virtual machine apps have different uses. Developers use the application to test new software in a controlled environment. They can change the variables to test the app in different virtual environments.

In addition, network security personnel test software in a virtual environment before deployment. VMs also result in reduced overheads as it allows companies to use different operating systems without having to purchase additional hardware.

Q #4) How does a virtual machine work?

Answer: A virtual machine application runs in an isolated environment with its isolated power, CPU, memory, operating system, and other resources.

Q #5) Are virtual machines slower than native systems?

Answer: Virtual machine apps create a virtualized environment on top of an existing operating system. The virtual environment uses more CPU load and physical memory due to which VM apps can be 5 to 100 percent slower than native systems.

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List Of The Top Virtual Machine Software

Here is the list of popular paid and free VM Software:

  1. VirtualBox
  2. Oracle VM
  3. Hyper-V
  4. Microsoft Free Account Virtual Machine
  5. QEMU
  6. Citrix Hypervisor
  7. Red Hat Virtualization
  8. VMware Fusion
  9. Xen Project
  10. Google Cloud Compute Engine
  11. KVM

Comparison Table Of Best Online Virtual Machine

Tool NameHost/Guest CPULicenseRatings *****
VirtualBox x86, x86-64 with AMD-V or Intel VTGNU General Public License (GPL)Star_rating_5_of_5
Oracle VM x86, x86-64Oracle VM Server, GPLv2Star_rating_5_of_5
Hyper-V x86, x86-64 with AMD-V or Intel VT-x (up to 64 physical CPUs)ProprietaryStar_rating_5_of_5
Microsoft Free Account Virtual Machine x86-64ProprietaryStar_rating_4_of_5
QEMU x86, MIPS, 32-bit ARMv7, ARMv8, ETRAX CRIS, SPARC, PowerPC, and MicroBlazeOpen SourceStar_rating_4_of_5

Review of VM software:

#1) VirtualBox

Best for virtualization for enterprise and home use for free.

virtualbox

Virtual Box is a free VM app that supports high-performance virtualization. It is a free virtual machine app that app developers can use for testing apps on multiple operating systems.

Features:

  • Support Windows, Linux, Solaris, and Mac host OS
  • Legacy and latest guest OS including Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, Server 2003, XP, 2000, NT 4.0, 3.x), Linux (4.x, 3.x, 2.6, 2.4), Solaris, OpenSolaris, OpenBSD, OS/2, Novel Netware 6.5, QNX Neutrino 6.32, Haiku, Visopsys, ReactOS, SkyOS, Syllable
  • Open-source GPL license

Verdict: Virtual Box is the only free VM software that meets the requirements of professionals. The app supports all major operating systems including Windows, Linux, Solaris, and Mac.

Price: Free Virtual Machine

Website: Virtual Box


#2) Oracle VM

Best for developing and deploying virtual environments on Windows, Solaris, and Linux for free.

Oracle VM Website

Oracle VM boasts advanced functionalities such as DOMO kernel usage, fiber channel storage, and custom virtual CPU. It supports a hypervisor featuring symmetric multi-processing on guest OS.

Features:

  • Support Windows, Linux, and Solaris host OS
  • Microsoft Windows, Linux, Red Hat Enterprise, Linus, and Solaris guest OS
  • Symmetric multiprocessing
  • Secure live migration
  • VM templates

Verdict: Oracle VM is one of the best virtual machine software that supports advanced functionalities. The VM app can run on most hardware configurations without any difficulties.

Price: Free

Website: Oracle VM


#3) Hyper-V

Best for creating virtual environments on Windows 10 and Windows Server for free.

Hyper-V Website

Hyper-V is a free virtual machine app that is popular among IT professionals. The software runs on 64-bit Windows Server and Windows 10 Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions. Previously known as Windows Servicer Virtualization, the free VM app supports different operating systems including FreeBSD, Windows, and Linux.

Features:

  • Live migration from one host to another including Windows Server 2012 (R2) and Windows 10 Pro, Education, and Enterprise
  • Supports Windows (Vista SP2, 7, 8, 8.1, 10), FreeBSD, Linux, CentOS, Red Hat Linux, SUSE, Oracle Linux, Ubuntu, and Debian guest OS
  • Virtual fiber channel
  • Default NAT switch, SR-IOV networking, and Hyper-V replica

Verdict: Hyper-V is a simple VM app that allows creating a virtual environment on server and host PC. But the high precision and latency-sensitive app requiring less than 10ms may not work with the free hypervisor software.

Price: Free

Website: Hyper-V


#4) Microsoft Free Account Virtual Machine

Best for Microsoft Azure users.

Microsoft Free Account Virtual Machine Website

Microsoft Free Account Virtual Machine is an online VM application that supports advanced functionalities. Professionals can use the free account to test the capabilities of the VM app.

Features:

  • Windows Server 2012+, Ubuntu 16.04 LTs, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS host OS
  • Supports multiple guest OS including Windows Server 2008, 2021, 2016; Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, CentOS 4,5,6,7; CentOS/RHEL 5.1-5.11, 6.1-6.66, 7.0-7.1; Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10, 13.04, 13.10, 14.04, 14.10; Red Hat Linux 5,6, 7; Debian Linux 7.
  • 750 hours of B1 Standard Linux virtual machine
  • 750 hours of B1 Standard Windows virtual machine
  • 2 P6 (64GiB) managed disks

Verdict: Azure free account users can get 12 months free access to 1500 virtual machine hours each month. You also get $200 credit when you create a free account that is valid for up to 30 days.

Price:

Website: Microsoft Free Account Virtual Machine


#5) QEMU

Best for creating a virtual environment on multiple architectures and OS for free.

QEMU

QEMU is an open-source virtual emulator that supports fast virtualization. The VM app can run apps for BSD, Linux, Windows, and others on supported architecture. It supports full system emulation on supported platforms.

Features:

  • Linux, Windows, Mac, Open BSD, FreeBSD, and Solaris host OS
  • Guest OS: Windows, Solaris, Linux, DOS, and BSD; it supports emulating several instruction sets
  • Generic and open source virtualizer
  • User mode emulation
  • Support KVM and Xen at native performance

Verdict: QEMU is a versatile VM app that supports multiple architectures. If you want to run a VM app on Power PC or other legacy architecture, the app will meet your expectations.

Price: Free

Website: QEMU


#6) Citrix Hypervisor

Best for testing intensive workloads in a virtualized environment for Citrix Virtual App users.

Citrix Hypervisor Website

Citrix Hypervisor provides virtualization across different setups. It simplifies the management of multiple operational environments. The system is suitable for intensive apps in a virtual environment.

Features:

  • Desktop virtualization
  • Robust security
  • Server virtualization
  • Centralize VM management
  • Cloud optimization

Verdict: Citrix Hypervisor is a free app for Citrix Virtual app users. It is one of the most popular apps used by medium and large organizations.

Price:

  • Free for Citrix Virtual Apps users only
  • Citrix Virtual app: $10 per user per month

Website: Citrix Hypervisor


#7) Red Hat Virtualization

Best for enterprise-level virtualization for a containerized or cloud-native environment.

Red Hat Virtualization Website

Red Hat Virtualization is a paid VM software that boasts advanced functionalities. The VM app allows creating a new virtual environment or clones an existing one. It is a community-powered open source solution that delivers high-performing Kubernetes, Linux, and cloud environments.

Features:

  • Cloud-native virtualization
  • Containerized environment
  • Supports resource-intensive apps
  • Red Hat OpenShift support

Verdict: Red Hat Virtualization is professional virtualization software. You can create a virtualized environment on Windows and Linux OS.

Price:

  • Contact sales for a quote
  • Trial: Yes | 60 days

Website: Red Hat Virtualization


#8) VMware Fusion

Best for creating a virtual environment on macOS 10.15+.

VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion is a dedicated macOS virtualization software that allows you to run Windows on your Mac device. The VM app is suitable for individuals, app developers, and IT professionals.

Features:

  • Simulates Windows 32-bit (Server 2003, XP, 2000, NT, Me, 98, 95, 3.11, 3.1), MS Dos6.x, Red Hat Linux (9,8,7.3,7.2,7.1,7.0), Red Hat Enterprise (3.0,2.1), Red Hat Server 2.1, Mandrake Linux (10, 9.2, 9.0, 8.2), SUSE Linux (9.0-9.2, 8.1-8.2, 7.3), SUSE Enterprise Server 7, Turbolinux (Enterprise 8, Workstation 8, 7), Novell Linux 9, Sun JDS 2, Novell Netware (5.1, 6.0 , 6.5), FreeBSD (4.x-5.0), Sun Solaris (9,10)
  • Unity view
  • Supports 200+ Windows instances.
  • Support DX 11 games
  • eGPU support to boost game performance

Verdict: VMware Fusion is suitable for testing the most demanding apps in a virtualized environment on Mac devices. The app is suitable for power users, app developers, and IT security admins.

Price:

  • $149 – $241
  • Trial: Yes | 30 days

VMWare Fusion Pricing

Website: VMware Fusion


#9) Xen Project

Best for server virtualization, Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS), and desktop virtualization for free.

Xen Project Website

Xen Project is a free virtualization tool that supports advanced functionalities. The free VM app allows automated embedded security features. It also boasts advanced security and cloud virtualization options. The VM app is the only type-1 hypervisor that is available as open-source software.

Features:

  • Automated
  • Customizable architecture
  • Fault tolerance
  • Real-time support for SUSE Linux and Oracle Unbreakable Linux

Verdict: Xen Project is a free virtual VM application that boasts advanced virtualization and security features. It is best for the virtualization of different commercial and open-source applications on the Windows platform.

Price: Free

Website: Xen Project


#10) Google Cloud Compute Engine

Best for secure and customizable virtualization on multiple platforms.

Google Cloud Compute Engine Website

Google Cloud Compute Engine is advanced virtualization software. The VM app is suitable for professional app and web development firms to test online apps in customized environments. The online cloud app allows running virtualized in a native environment. It offers a container-optimized OS that allows a secure virtual testing environment.

Features:

  • High memory support of up to 12TB
  • Compute intensive workloads
  • Pre-emptible machines
  • Confidential computing

Verdict: New Google Cloud users get $200 credit to test the VM software app. Paid members get free f-1 micro instance that is not charged. The application lets you run apps on Google environment only. Website developers can use the VM app to deploy sites in a secure virtualized environment.

Price:

  • Contact sales for price
  • Trial: Yes | 90 days

Website: Google Cloud Computer Engine


#11) KVM

Best for full virtualization of apps on x86 computers running Linux OS.

KVM Website

Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is an open-source VM app that is suitable for the virtualization of x86-64 Linux environments. The app consists of a core virtualization infrastructure for different modules. You can run unmodified Windows and Linux images on the free virtual machine app.

Features:

  • Runs on Linux, Illumos, and FreeBSD
  • Supports Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, Linux, React OS, Plan 9, and OS X

Verdict: KVM supports x86 architectures that can be ported with different processors. The VM app features live migration, host-guest communication, and hotplug support. It is the recommended app for creating virtualized environments on Linux operating systems.

Price: Free

Website: KVM


Conclusion

We have reviewed commercial, open-source, and free virtual machine apps. VirtualBox and Oracle VM are recommended free apps for creating virtualized environments. If you want more flexibility, you can try the open-source VM apps include QEMU and Xen Projects.

Large firms can opt for paid virtualization apps such as VMware Fusion and Red Hat Virtualization.

Recommended Reading =>> Review top Virtual desktop solutions

Research Process:

  • Time taken to research this article: Writing and researching the article on the best free virtual machine software took about 8 hours so that you can make an informed decision in selecting a free VM software.
  • Total tools researched: 25
  • Top tools shortlisted: 11
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