^ Yes, I use the paid alternative VMWare Workstation as I am certified for VMWare VSPhere (ESX) a.o. and then you get a free license, and since I have a Server 2012R2 Datacenter ed (it basically registers any and all virtual Windows machines for free), I also use Microsoft Hyper-V
However, I use another one as well which I would like to recommend:
[B]VirtualBox[/B] - Cross platform VM host from Oracle.
[I]VirtualBox 5.0 for Windows. Within VirtualBox openSUSE 13.2 is running.[/I]
Supports even DOS, something VMWare does not any more (How hard can it be to support command-based OSes anyway?)
Not only is VirtualBox extremely feature rich, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software (GPL version 2).
Small efficient hypervisor, excellent for home use, testing out various alternative OSes with no strings attached. If Debian is not to taste, delete and test Ubuntu instead. That way, jumping the Windows world in favor of an open source alternative can be a process as slow as you want it. You may start by virtualizing Linux on Windows and end up by virtualizing Windows on Linux, just in case you need it
It does not stop there though, for the aspiring developer there are several pre-built development VMs ready to boot.