Features in the beta that I like include:
* Multiple snapshot and snapshot management capabilities--for capturing and managing multiple configurations
* Teams feature--for managing connected virtual machines and simulating "real world" multi-tier configurations
* Cloning functionality--for copying virtual machines and sharing them with colleagues. This includes the ability to convert a VPC VM into a VMware Workstation VM! * Improved USB support - just about everything's supported inside a guest. * Support for 32-bit and 64-bit hardware. * NX bit support - the VMware "hardware" now supports this bit, for OSs that can make use of it (e.g. XPSP2, Server2k3SP1).
The beta is a LOT quicker to save and restore VMs. I run (for better or worse) my mail server inside a VMware VM using VMware 5.0, and this VM is run from my main workstation (a nice dual proc Xeon box). Since I am regularly rebooting my workstation, I also have to save and then restore the mail server - which now takes just seconds. For a fuller set of details on what's in VMware Workstation 5.0, see the beta page on VMware's web site.
So does VMware 5.0 stack up against VPC 2004? The the current version of Vmware has more features than VPC already. VMware 5.0 adds many useful and important features that power users will appreciate, thus widening the feature gap. I've not seen pricing yet, so I can't comment on that yet!
So where does that leave VPC? Well, being a Microsoft product, it is less less expensive than the competition, and has fewer features. BUt, it is fully supported by Microsoft. VPC is aimed at corporate customers who do not want to have to deal with potential support issues arising from using MS OSs inside a VM, and customers not needing the extra features. VPC is ideal for desktop Windows XP user who needs to run applications that are only work in earlier versions of Windows. VPC is also a very valuable tool for Microsoft demo warriors and trainers (who get VPC VMs from Microsoft!).
At the end of the day, I'll end up using both products. I've got, for example, a set of fantastic ISA Server Enterprise Edition labs which will stay as VPC VMs, while my mail server will continue to run in VMware. As an MCT, most of training courses I run these days run either in part or in whole using VPC VMs. VMware is a much heavier duty product, with a higher spec - I think of it as the 'workstation' vs 'pc' type product. I'll continue to use it at home and in those cases whe the extra featues are needed.