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Virtual PC 2007

Virtual PC 2007

Microsoft Virtual PC is a virtualization suite for Microsoft Windows operating systems. The software was originally written by Connectix, and subsequently purchased and updated by Microsoft.

Virtual PC lets you create one or more virtual machines, each running its own operating system, on a single physical computer. The virtual machine emulates a standard x86-based computer, including all the basic hardware components except the processor. By using emulated hardware and the processor in the physical computer, each virtual machine works like a separate physical computer. As each virtual machine has its own operating system, you can run several different operating systems at the same time on a single computer.

Virtual PC virtualizes a standard PC and its associated hardware. Supported Windows operating systems can run inside Virtual PC. However, whilst other operating systems including Linux can be installed as guests, they are not officially supported by Microsoft.

Although installing a Linux-based environment is possible, it is not seamless. For some 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. We chose to install a couple of distros, one of which was Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) as the guest operating system. As an unusal quirk, Ubuntu had to be installed in Safe graphics mode, but the rest of the installation was painless, except a few tweaks were needed to get networking and sound working.

We also installed Virtual Machine Additions, which is a similar tool to VMware's VMtools package. Virtual Machine Additions provides enhanced performance and integration features on guest operating systems, including pointer integration, folder sharing, optimised video drivers, clipboard sharing, and time synchronization.

Even with Virtual Machine Additions installed, performance was not stellar, and felt sluggish compared with the other virtualization software. However, what was more disconcerting was during intensive testing of the software there were a couple of Blue Screen of Deaths, which appeared to be solely due to Virtual PC. As Microsoft does not officially support running Linux under Virtual PC, there is probably little to be gained by supplying Microsoft with crash logs. There is no support for 64 bit guest operating systems.

The screenshots above shows a variety of Linux software in action including Sound Recorder, GIMP, Dictionary, Brasero, Chess, GNOME Terminal and Firefox.

 Virtual PC

Free to download



Microsoft Corporation


Support Sites:
FAQ, Installing Ubuntu 8.10 under Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Selected Reviews:, 4sysops, eWEEK

Features include:

  • Easy to install
  • Simple to use, with a Graphical User Interface for both the program window and the virtual machine console
  • Configurability - control how the product interacts with the physical computer, allocate resources
  • CD and DVD ISO image files can be mounted by a virtual machine directly
  • True color graphics board emulated inside the virtual machine
  • Configure and test upgrades and installations on virtual machines
  • Support for assisted hardware virtualization
  • Copy, paste, drag, and drop between guest and host
  • Resizable view of the virtual machine console either into full screen or through manual resizing using your mouse
  • Snapshots
  • Virtual floppy disks
  • Undo function
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