Microsoft Virtual PC

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Microsoft Virtual PC
Developed by Microsoft Corporation
Latest release 2007 SP1 ( (Windows), 7.0.3 (Mac) / Feb 20, 2009 (Windows), August 14, 2007 (Mac)
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X (deprecated), Mac OS (deprecated)
Type Emulator, Virtual machine
License Proprietary, but free to download and use
Website for Windows
for Mac

Microsoft Virtual PC is a virtualization suite for Microsoft Windows operating systems, and an emulation suite for Mac OS X on PowerPC-based systems. The software was originally written by Connectix, and was subsequently acquired by Microsoft. In July 2006 Microsoft released the Windows-hosted version as a free product. In August 2006 Microsoft announced the Macintosh-hosted version would not be ported to Intel-based Macintoshes, effectively discontinuing the product as PowerPC-based Macintoshes are no longer manufactured.

Virtual PC virtualizes a standard PC and its associated hardware. Supported Windows operating systems can run inside Virtual PC. However, other operating systems like Linux may run, but are not officially supported.


[edit] Emulated environment

Virtual PC emulates the following.

USB is not supported, although standard peripherals that make use of USB on the host OS are recognized as otherwise. Programs which use undocumented features of hardware, exotic timings, or unsupported opcodes may not work, although overall compatibility can be considered satisfactory.

It also uses some guest call traps (especially when using the guest extensions) to accelerate emulation or offer additional features, such as integration with the host environment.

Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) is the file format used by Virtual PC and Virtual Server, for which Microsoft has made available all documentation under the Open Specification Promise.

[edit] Virtual Machine Additions

To facilitate exchange and sharing of files, folders and data between the host operating system and the guest operating system, Virtual PC supports installing Virtual Machine Additions. These are installed in the guest operating system and provide the following functionality across the host and guest operating systems:

  • Better performance of the guest OS
  • Integrated use of the mouse
  • Optimized video drivers
  • Dynamic Screen Resolution (the ability to use any screen resolution in the guest by resizing the Virtual Machine window)
  • Time synchronization with the host
  • Clipboard sharing
  • Drag-and-drop capabilities
  • Possibility to share files and folders between the host system and the guest system

[edit] Supported host and guest operating systems

[edit] Host operating systems

Virtual PC 2007 officially supports the following host operating systems:

  • Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista Business (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista Business N (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP Home (Support added with Feb 20, 2009 hotfix rollup)
  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition (32-bit)
  • Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
  • Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Windows Vista Home Basic (32-bit and 64-bit)

Virtual PC 2007 does not support the following host operating systems, and hence automatically cancels installation on the PC.

  • Windows Vista Starter
  • Windows Vista Home Premium N (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N (32-bit and 64-bit)

Virtual PC 2007 does not officially support the following operating systems, however it is possible to install and use Virtual PC on these operating systems as hosts, despite a warning message that may appear.[1]

  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004
  • Windows XP Home Edition

Virtual PC 2004 was the last version to support Windows 2000 as the host OS.

[edit] Guest operating systems

Virtual PC 2007 supports virtualizing the following operating systems:[1]

Support for Windows 95, the Windows 98 original release, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and MS-DOS 6.22 as guests has been discontinued in Virtual PC 2007 but they may run regardless, although Virtual PC Additions are not available on early operating systems such as Windows 95 or MS-DOS 6.22.[1] It is, however, possible to use Virtual PC 2004 additions with Windows 95 and MS-DOS. [2] When using Windows Vista in Virtual PC 2007, the option for enabling Windows Aero is unavailable.

Linux guests are officially not supported by Virtual PC 2004 and 2007 although Virtual Machine Additions support for Linux was available in Connectix's version of Virtual PC before it was acquired by Microsoft. Microsoft supports VM Additions for Linux only in their Virtual Server product, but they work also with Virtual PC. Both the OS/2 and Linux VM additions were developed by German company innotek GmbH for Connectix/Microsoft.[3]

[edit] Emulating Linux-based environments

Although installing a Linux-based environment is possible, it is not seamless. For some supported Linux distributions the guest operating system must be installed in text mode, as Microsoft Virtual PC only emulates graphics at 16-bit or 32-bit color depth, not 24-bit. In order to run an X Window user interface, the guest operating system will need to have xorg.conf edited to 16-bit in order to comply with this limitation.[4] Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) must be installed in SafeMode, but does not require any other changes.

Some websites specialize in listing operating systems that work over Virtual PC, including Linux distributions, so the user can avoid issues when testing those unsupported OSes over Virtual PC.[5]

[edit] Version history

Connectix Virtual PC version 3 in Mac OS 9, running a Brazilian Portuguese edition of Windows 95
Virtual PC 6.1 for Macintosh

Virtual PC was originally developed by Connectix for the Macintosh and was released in June 1997. In June 2001 the first version of Virtual PC for Windows, version 4.0, was released. Connectix sold versions of Virtual PC bundled with a variety of operating systems, including many versions of Windows, OS/2, and Red Hat Linux. As it became clear that virtualization was important to the enterprise, Microsoft became interested in the sector and acquired Virtual PC and an (at the time) unreleased product called "Virtual Server" from Connectix in February 2003.

Version 5.0 was ported by innotek GmbH (makers of VirtualBox and now part of Sun Microsystems) to run with OS/2 as host.[6] For this version, innotek also developed guest extensions for OS/2 guest, that can be used with Windows, OS/2 or Mac OS X hosts using Virtual PC versions 5, 6 or 7. A new version of the guest extensions was included with Virtual PC 2004.

On July 12, 2006, Microsoft released Virtual PC 2004 for Windows as a free product but the Mac version was not made free. The Windows version may be downloaded from here. The equivalent version for Mac, version 7, was the final version of Virtual PC for Mac.

Microsoft made the first public beta release of Virtual PC 2007 available to testers on October 11, 2006, and released the final version on February 19, 2007. As expected, Virtual PC 2007 is only available for the Windows platform. The main improvements over Virtual PC 2004 are support for hardware virtualization, viewing virtual machines on multiple monitors and support for Windows Vista as both host and guest (although Windows Vista guests currently cannot make use of Aero Glass due to the limitations of the emulated video hardware unless the guest Vista OS utilizes a Remote Desktop Connection to the host Vista OS). On May 15, 2008, Microsoft released Virtual PC 2007 Service Pack 1.[7]

The hotfix rollup [8] for Virtual PC 2007 SP1 on February 20, 2009 solved networking issues and enhanced the maximum screen resolution to 2048 x 1920 (32 bit) which includes 16:9 resolutions as 1920 x 1080.

Virtual Machine Additions for Linux are available on the Microsoft Download Center, but are officially supported only in Virtual Server.[9]

[edit] Intel-based Mac support

Microsoft announced on August 7, 2006 that Virtual PC for Mac would not be ported to the Intel Mac platform. Microsoft stated “alternative solutions offered by Apple such as Boot Camp and by other vendors, combined with a fully packaged retail copy of Windows, will satisfy this need.”[10]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

Use your Windows XP license from Virtual PC v.7 [1]

[edit] External links

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005

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