I came across this new feature in the release notes, so I had to try it myself. And, no need to have support for VMDirectPath! The virtual machine I am testing is a Windows 7 x64. I tested the same procedure on multiple Windows operating systems with no issues.
The process is pretty simple, First add a USB controller to your virtual machine.
Now, add the USB device. Edit the virtual machine after you have added the controller, select “USB device”
Now, select a USB device
I went bananas and used 3 different USB sticks to see if it would be hit or miss. I had no problems with all 3. Although, you may want to check the compatibility matrix for an official list from VMware.
In the device manager, everything shows up perfect and the Windows auto launch executes.
I open the explorer and the test folder I created before I plugged in the USB device shows up just fine.
Make sure to check the VMware KB Article 1022290 for special considerations. What are the use cases for this? For one, if you require software and a USB dongle for licenses. You could use a USB device as a backup media until it is replicated somewhere else. This could save a little on SAN costs. But when it comes down to it, large enterprises may not want to manage a plethora of USB devices hanging off of a host.
I did notice that there are a few posts out there that mention vCenter is a requirement for this new feature. I have not found that to be the case. I poured through the admin guide and it does walk you through the setup process via vCenter, but I had no problems adding a USB device directly from the host. Of course if you want to leverage the vMotion feature with this USB passthru device, you will need vCenter.