Microsoft has just released Virtual PC 2007 and it’s available for free. You can download it here.
The first problem I ran into is the default virtual machine tried to boot the machine using secondary controller which doesn’t exist on my test machine. To use the main CD/DVD drive, click on CD menu and select Use Physical Drive D: . You then need to reset the virtual machine. Do this by clicking on Action menu and select Reset .
This version of Virtual PC supports hardware virtualization. It’s a great performance improvement over the old Virtual PC. However, if you install it on an older machine without hardware virtualization, there is no noticeable performance boost. I first installed Virtual PC 2007 on my Ferrari 3400 which has no virtualization support. The installation process is painfully slow. It took over 4 hours to install Windows XP. I then try it on my MacBook and it took only 40 minutes to install Windows XP.
During installation, virtual machine has control of mouse and keyboard, I cannot use my computer for other purpose. I googled quite a bit trying to find a way to escape the mouse and keyboard. I was not succesful finding the right key combination. I do find something about host key, but what is a host key? Finally, I was able to use good old Ctrl+Alt+Del and click Cancel to return the control of mouse and keyboard to the host system. I later learned from the online help that the default host key is right Alt key. You can change that by clicking on File menu on Virtual PC Console and select Options. This is helpful, because there is no right Alt key for MacBook. If you run your virtual machine in windowed mode, you can use host key + left or right arrow to switch between the virtual machines and host system. Host key is also useful when you run the guest OS in full screen mode because the menu is hidden. Here is a short list of important keyboard combinations.
- Host key+Enter Full-screen mode
- Host key+Del Ctrl+Alt+Del for guest OS
- Host key+E Change settings
- Host key+I Install Virtual Machine Additions
If you create a default virtual machine, after installation the networking does not work. Virtual PC offers you different ways for virtual machine to connect to the network. I use NAT which is easy to setup and secured. To use NAT, click on Edit menu and select Settings. Click on Networking and change Adapter 1 to Shared networking (NAT) .
Virtual Machine Additions
Don’t forget to install Virtual Machine Additions after installation of the guest OS. It is a set of features that improve integration of the host and the guest OSs. It also provides features like drag and drop between host and guest OSs. To install Virtual Machine Additions, click on Action menu and select Install or Update Virtual Machine Additions . Follow the installation wizard to finish it.
Drag and drop is good for occasional file sharing. However, if you have a lot of file to share, you’ll have to setup share folder. To do this, right click on the folder icon on the lower right corner of the guest OS and select Share Folder… .