In the VMware ESX/ESXi architecture, the operating system of the virtual machine (the guest operating system) interacts only with the standard, x86-compatible virtual hardware that the virtualization layer presents. This architecture allows VMware products to support any x86-compatible operating system.

Most applications interact only with the guest operating system, not with the underlying hardware. As a result, you can run applications on the hardware of your choice if you install a virtual machine with the operating system that the application requires.