Getting Started on Virtualization with Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, Part 1: Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Getting Started with Virtual PC 2007

Hello, this post is the first part of the series that I’ll give you an introduction to the Virtualization Technology which is an interesting topic and becoming interested to many organizations in these days. This series I’ll focus on using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 which is a free virtualization software from Microsoft.
Note: In this series, I focus about virtualization software for Workstation only, not for Server or Enterprise.


What’s Virtualization

Nowadays, a computer have much higher performance than before, it can do more tasks at the time. It has dual or quad cores, large memory size, huge storage disk, etc. With a high performance PC like this, it is suitable to run more than a system on a single PC. So it comes to virtualization term.

Virtualization software is software which virtualizes processor, memory, storage and networking resources of a single PC into multiple virtual machines. So you can run multiple operating systems and multiple applications on a single physical PC at the same time.
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Why implements Virtualization Technology

With Virtualization Technology, you can

  1. Improve the utilization of PCs or servers. You can have multiple operating systems and multiple applications.
  2. Increase flexibility of hardware. Virtual machine is independent hardware since it simulate hardware resources so that you can move your virtual machine between PCs or Servers really faster and simpler.
  3. Save money and energy. Services and applications can be run simultaneously on each virtual machines in a single servers or PCs so you can reduce the number of Servers or PCs.
  4. Increase services and applications availability. You can recover virtual machines faster and easier.

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Virtualization Software

The popular virtualization software for personal use are Microsoft Virtual PC (Free), VMWare Workstation (Not Free) and Sun VirtualBox (Free).
Note: VMWare also has VMWare Player which is free but you can only run virtual machines but not be able to create or modify virtual machines.

If you are a Windows user, I would recommend you to try Microsoft Virtual PC because it’s free and easiest to use. Therefore, I’ll use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 as a demonstration software throughout this series.

If you are a corporate staff and consider to implementing virtualization technology, you should try software from VMWare which has many products for enterprise business. For example, VMWare Server, VMWare ESX, etc.
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Microsoft Virtual PC

(This section was quoted and slightly rearranged from Microsoft Virtual PC, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

  1. Emulated environment

    Virtual PC emulates the following.

    • 32-bit Intel Pentium II processor (but virtualizes the host processor on Windows versions) with an Intel 440BX chipset.
    • Standard SVGA VESA graphics card (S3 Trio 32 PCI with 4 MB Video RAM, adjustable in later versions up to 16 MB).
    • System BIOS from American Megatrends (AMI)
    • Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 ISA PnP (when Vista is installed as both the host (main) and guest (virtual) Operating systems, then the need to set audio configuration is removed, as the guest (Virtual) OS automatically synchronizes the settings with the host (main) Operating System.)
    • DEC 21041 (DEC 21140 in newer versions) Ethernet network card.

    USB is not supported. Programs which use undocumented features of hardware, exotic timings, or unsupported opcodes may not work, although overall compatibility can be considered satisfactory.

    • The Macintosh version of Virtual PC uses dynamic recompilation to translate the x86 code used by a standard PC into equivalent PowerPC code used by a Mac.
    • The Windows version of Virtual PC also uses dynamic recompilation, but only to translate kernel mode and real mode x86 code into x86 user mode code, while original user mode and virtual 8086 mode code run natively.
    • 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.

  2. 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.
  3. Supported host operating systems

    • Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise, Business editions and European Business only, not Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Home Basic or Home Premium or European Vista Home editions)
    • Windows XP Professional and Tablet PC Edition (32-bit) and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, not Windows XP Home Edition or Windows XP Media Center Edition)
    • Windows Server 2003
    • Windows Server 2008
  4. Supported Guest operating systems

    • Windows Vista (All 32-bit editions)
    • Windows XP (All 32-bit only)
    • Windows Server 2008 (Virtual PC 2007 SP1 onwards)
    • Windows 2000 Professional and Server
    • Windows 98 Second Edition
    • Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition
    • Windows NT 4.0 Server
    • Certain editions of IBM OS/2

    Note: 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.

    Other operating systems like Linux may run, but are not officially supported (for example, Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, can only get past the boot screen of the Live CD when using Safe Graphics Mode).

Reference: Virtual PC 2007 Release Notes
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Let’s start!

By the time that I writing this part, the latest version is Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1. You can download at Microsoft website.

To begin installation, continue on Part II: Installation.
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Series NavigationGetting Started on Virtualization with Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, Part 2: Installation >>

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