View Full Version : MS Virtual PC

5th Apr 2004, 18:21
Quote from the Langalist Newsletter.
1) Virtual Excellence

Late last year, Microsoft quietly rolled out its entry into the "virtual
PC" arena---Microsoft Virtual PC 2004--- and delivered its software at
about half the price of competing commercial products. What's more,
Microsoft even offers a 100% free 45-day trial of the software.

I've recently experimented with Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and think it
deserves a close look by anyone seeking an alternative to dual-booting
(say, to run Linux on a Windows PC); as well as by those involved in the
traditional uses of virtual PCs, including software testing, evaluation
and support. Even a casual user who likes to download new software to
try, or who likes to tinker with system settings, can benefit from a
virtual PC.

A "virtual PC" lets you experiment with software and system settings in
a nearly 100% safe way, without affecting your current setup--- and
without even having to reboot or leave your main OS. Everything about
your current setup--- your OS, your apps, everything--- stays up and
running normally while the virtual PC is in operation.

You see, a virtual PC is a standard desktop computer completely emulated
in software. You can install an operating system, applications, or
utilities on a virtual PC and use it exactly the same way you do on a
standard PC. The installed software thinks it's running on a normal,
stand-alone physical system, but it's not: Instead, it's running inside
a protected memory space on a host system, with special emulation
software masquerading as a separate and standalone BIOS, motherboard,
hard drive, floppy, CD drive, display adapter, network card, and so on.
A virtual PC provides all the normal hardware of a standard PC, created
entirely in software.

It's almost like a Matrioshka--- those Russian nesting dolls, one
inside another: Your PC runs its OS, which runs the virtual PC software,
which creates a secondary, entirely emulated PC inside the main OS,
which in turn separately runs whatever software you choose!

As far as the emulated PC is concerned, it's alone. Its OS and
applications are normally prevented from seeing the host OS, or the host
OS's files. That means the secondary OS normally can't affect or crash
the host OS. Whatever happens inside the virtual space stays there.

But even though the VPC is safely isolated, all the normal PC functions
are emulated, so the secondary OS can use the network, can access
printers, can go online, and so on: It's a fully functional PC in
essentially every way--- but safely isolated inside your main OS!

Obviously, a VPC is a wonderful testing tool because any OS, application
or utility crashes that occur in the VPC will be safely contained, and
won't affect the main OS. You can even reboot the VPC and watch it go
through what appears to be a complete "hardware" shutdown and restart
while you continue to use the real, physical PC and its main OS,

There are other benefits, too--- too many to spell out here. So, I've
put together a feature-length article that explores the concepts of
virtual PCs; takes a close look at Microsoft Virtual PC; and also points
you to other VPC software--- some free! (And remember: Even the
Microsoft software is free to try for 45 days. This gives you a way to
explore a polished, commercial offering at zero cost!)

If you have an interest in running more than one OS on your system; or
if you need a safe way to test and explore new software, or if you need
to run multiple OSes, or multiple copies of the same OS, for testing,
support, or evaluation purposes, a virtual PC solution deserves a look.
It just might change the way you use your PC!

Click on over to
for the full story!

Thought you techies might find this of interest.

6th Apr 2004, 08:37
A couple problems with Virtual PC:

- "Microsoft quietly rolled out its entry into the "virtual
PC". Yeah, they bought it! They did NOT develop it. See http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2003/feb03/02-19PartitionPR.asp and http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,894813,00.asp. As I recall, it was originally written for the Mac and then later ported for Windows. Obviously not a big money maker if Connectix decided to dump it. Although their still registered domain (connectix.com) expires in 2008, their web site disappeared after selling off Virtual PC.

- Virtual PC tries to share the same hardware resource across all the VMs. VMware creates a new hardware resource under each VM or passes it straight through when there's no conflict. VMware is far more realistic in configuring networking between the guest VM hosts.

I'm still wavering on which to get. Cheap is nice but not if it isn't as robust and stable as "competing commercial products" (i.e., VMware). VMware is pricey but maybe it'll feel the pinch, especially with free downloads for MSDN subscribers, so I'm hoping they'll drop the price within the year. There are some comparisons to be found by Googling, like:


I don't know how much value a VM would be when running concurrently with other VMs (or even the host OS on which the VM runs). You'd be trying to run the game in a guest Windows 98 using a VM running atop of, say, Windows XP - and be very disappointed in how slow was your gaming experience. It would be smarter to use multibooting (not Microsoft's stupid dual-booting) using BootMagic or BING as the boot manager and simply boot into Windows 98 running in its own separate primary partition. Or to define a hardware profile in Windows XP that disables almost all services and select it when booting along with a "gamer" account that has nothing in its Startup folder and little in its HK_USER Run key.