VMware is the maker of one of the leading computer virtualization products on the market today. The company makes a broad range of products that power data centers and PCs by creating virtual machines that run as separate machines on a computer. At the enterprise level, VMware products power multiple servers on each physical machine; saving space and money while presenting powerful flexibility to scale to user demands.
The VMware Player is a low-end consumer grade virtualization product that allows users to load virtual machines as appliances within the VMware environment. This allows ordinary users to operate PC's within their computer that can function as firewalls, or run alternate operating systems. Some virtual machines that run under VMware player are available for sale, while others are available as free online downloads.
The power of virtual machines can be further enhanced by placing them on bootable read-only media such as CD-ROM. This allows a computer to boot into an environment that is independent of any installed operating system to perform roles such as kiosks in retail environments, routers and firewalls in IT departments, and a plethora of other specialized roles. By creating this so-called "live" CD, vendors can update PC's and their roles simply by distributing a new version to users, meaning that an entire machine can change as easily and as often as necessary simply by replacing the CD in the drive and rebooting the machine.
VMware live CDs will start a VMware virtual machine from a CD, making it possible to run operating system-specific applications independently from the host machine's operating system.
(Image Credits: Screen shot taken by Bruce Tyson)