newbie question on VMWare for software testing

I am considering using VMWARE for testing an app of mine across other OS's, but am not yet ready to install it and try it out.

My development machine is XP, with 1.5gb of memory and 140gb of hard disk space, so I should meet the requirements. I intend to use XP as the host, put the guest OS's in virtual disk files rather than physical partitions (I already have a partition scheme C:..F: that I do not want to alter). Guest OSs will be 95,98,2000, NT4

What I am not sure about is the visibility of files from one OS to another.

a) first of all, if I am logged in under say 95 or 98 will that OS see all my files on all my partitions?

b) I have some FAT32 and some NTFS partitions .. as I recall 98 did not support NTFS, or even large hard disks .. will that cause a problem?

c) what about defragging. Assuming I only defrag from the host, is that going to mess with the virtual machines? I ask this because I have a recollection of some software (I think maybe it was Acronis backup) that 'reserved' a PHYSICAL area of the hard disk for its stuff

d) what about attached devices? I'd be fairly sure that I have some devices on the machine which earlier OS's would not support , and there probably are not even drivers for them.  Possibly even a wireless mouse and keyboard could give problems.

I would be grateful for some clarification

Mutley2003Asked:
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Alan Huseyin KayahanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
 Some general info:
        VMware allocates the amount of HDD you specified for guest OS. This space can not be used once it is allocated. You can see the vmware (was vmx file I think) as large as the amount you specified. So the answer of c) is "No defrag wont affect guest os"
        The allocation you made is a new HDD for your guest OS, so it can not see or effect the files in your host OS. But you can do file transfers between them if you install VMware tools
        a) Win 95 or 98 OSes can not see NTFS partitions even in real
        b)As I mentioned earlier, the allocation you made is a totally new HDD for guest OS, and you can format it as FAT32 and install 98. Wont cause any problem.
        d)Dont worry. VMware creates VMware specific drivers for devices. Also you can decide which hardware to connect, which to not, including CD-ROM, floppy drive.

Regards
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Mutley2003Author Commented:
Thanks for the clarification.

A supplementary question if I may .. I have just been looking at Microsoft's Virtual PC. It seems to be free, which is good, and since I am only interested in Microsoft OS's and just for testing purposes maybe that would be OK for me.

Do you have an opinion on that?


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Mutley2003Author Commented:
For anyone else listening, I had a closer look and Microsoft seems to be promoting Virtual PC as a way of running legacy (as in XP) apps that won't work under Vista in their own VM.. that is, the host is Vista and the guests are XP etc. Maybe it will work with XP as the host, but I would not like to bet on it.

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Alan Huseyin KayahanCommented:
   Sure thing. Virtual PC is as effective as VMware.
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