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Thoughts on Windows Virtual PC (aka Virtual PC 2009) Release Candidate

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Well, I got my primary development laptop up and running with Windows 7 RTM.  (yay!)  As you may have heard, there’s a mode in Win7 that lets you run Windows XP in a virtual machine.  This is enabled by a new version of Virtual PC called Windows Virtual PC (aka. Virtual PC 2009).  I do LOTS with virtualization and decided to give the release candidate of Windows Virtual PC a try.

Two big changes:

  • Windows Virtual PC requires a processor that has Intel Virtualization Technology or AMD-V.  This is a good thing.  If you do a lot of work with virtual machines, you’ll definitely want this feature.  Huge performance difference.
  • It has USB support.

Smaller change: “Virtual Machine Additions” are now called “Integration Components.” 

Here are some findings on the Windows Virtual PC release candidate (RC):

  • The Integration Components don’t completely support Windows 2008 Server yet.  The integration components only officially support Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 as virtual machines.  You can install the integration components on Win2003 and Win2008 though.  On Win2008, mouse integration works and the processor integration works well enough that the VM isn’t burning up your host processor.  Folder and drive sharing, and host-to-virtual drag-and-drop doesn’t work yet.  (Big bummer.) 
  • Virtual Win2003 appears to be backwards compatible to Virtual PC 2007: VMs running Windows 2003 with the Windows Virtual PC Integration Components installed are runnable in Virtual PC 2007.  This backwards compatibility is nice. Unfortunately, folder/drive sharing and host-to-virtual drag-and-drop doesn’t work yet.  (Big bummer.)
  • Virtual Win2008 isn’t all that backwards compatible to Virtual PC 2007: VMs running Windows 2008 with the Windows Virtual PC Integration Components installed crash Virtual PC 2007.  (oops.)  The reason that I say “isn’t all that backwards compatible” is that I was able to get a Win2008 VM that I created with Windows VPC running in Virtual PC 2007.  Start the Win2008 VM in Safe Mode and then go in to Services and disable the integration component services. 

    BTW, I tried “Safe Mode with Networking” and it still crashed Virtual PC 2007.  When it crashed, the Safe Mode trace was showing me *.sys files related to disk operations.  Initially this made me think that Virtual PC 2007 was unhappy because of how the Virtual PC 2009 VMs did disk access but since Win2008 runs in “Safe Mode” but doesn’t run in “Safe Mode with Networking”, maybe it’s a problem with networking. 

So.  I’m very excited about the new version of Virtual PC but for now, I’m going to roll back to Virtual PC 2007. 

Anyone else have anything they’ve found with Windows Virtual PC?

-Ben

— Update (8/16/2009): Windows Virtual PC now has a blog.  http://blogs.technet.com/windows_vpc/


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