Ask Slashdot: Which Virtual Machine Software For a Beginner?

An anonymous reader writes "I am getting ready to start learning the use of virtual machines. What VM software would you recommend? This is for personal use. It would be good to run both Windows VMs and Linux VMs. Early use would be maintaining multiple Windows installs using only one desktop computer with plenty of cores and memory. I would be starting with a Windows host, but probably later switching to a Linux host after I learn more about it. Free is good, but reliability and ease of use are better. What is your preferred choice for a VM beginner? VMware? Xen? VirtualBox? Something else?"
It may also be helpful if you can recommend particular VM software for particular uses, or provide some insight on different hosting options.

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