Virtualisation software vendor VMware made two announcements today: the release of its VMware Player and a partnering deal with Mozilla on another free product, Browser Appliance, a virtual machine powered by Mozilla's Firefox web browser.

VMware Player enables users to run, assess and share software in a virtual machine on a PC running Microsoft's Windows OS or Linux.

Both moves are part of VMware's ongoing efforts to increase the use of its software, as well as building more of a user and third-party vendor community around its virtualisation offerings.

VMware defines a virtual machine as a virtualised x86 PC environment where a guest 32bit or 64bit opera OS and its related applications can run separately from the user's other desktop software. Multiple virtual machines can run on the same host machine simultaneously.

Users may choose to run software within a virtual machine for a variety of reasons – notably for security. For instance, by isolating web browsing, users can protect against possible malware intrusions as well as safeguard their personal information, including passwords and account numbers, according to a VMware release. With Browser Appliance, users can choose to configure the software so it automatically resets itself after every web browsing session so that personal data is never permanently stored online.

Focused on x86 server virtualisation, VMware is an independent subsidiary of storage vendor EMC. A spin-off of the open-source Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla watches over the development and release of Firefox and the Mozilla email client Thunderbird.

VMware plans to release a more extensible and customisable version of its VMware Player aimed at developers early next year. Google has been working with VMware on integrating its search capabilities into VMware Player so that users can search the web inside a virtual machine. VMware will allow some third-party companies to redistribute its Player, the release stated.

VMware first made VMware Player available as a beta download at the end of October.

VMware will shortly make both VMware Player and Browser Appliance available for download here. Currently, only beta versions of those products are available.