Friday, August 07, 2009

What’s your Windows 7 “Virtual Machine” Strategy?

I ask because it’s something I almost overlooked completely.

There are many Virtual PC style options on the market but up until now I have been using VPC 2007 SP1 because Its’ a Microsoft product and it’s free. Perhaps not the best strategy, but it worked … And I assumed that it was going to continue to work.

I was wrong.

I run several VMs under VPC at work and I need them to all continue to work.

But when I tried to run VPC2007 SP1 under Windows 7 (admittedly the RC) I was greeted with a dialog which suggested that VPC was not compatible with Win7.

“Ok” I thought, so where’s the version that is compatible. 

I found this … which is the Windows Virtual PC RC install. ( also the XP Mode RC install)

On the surface it looks good, but Microsoft seem to have player the same confusing trick they did with Messenger back in the day.

This is “Windows Virtual PC” (Win 7 Version) which is not the same as “Microsoft Virtual PC” (VPC 2007 SP1).

This *requires* AMD or Intel Chip level support (called VT Support on the Intel side) this is non- negotiable.

So it’s worth checking your chip to see if it provides VT support. The Intel side can use this utility.

However my work machine does not support this.

I am apparently stuck between the MVPC which runs on Vista and WVPC which runs on Windows 7 but only if you have VT support. At first looks this seems to mean No VM Support on Windows 7. This is not workable.

It seems that, at least for the moment, if you have an older (in some cases not that old) machine, and you require the ability to use a VM, that you’re up a certain creek without a paddle.

In my particular case I was lucky enough to have been introduced to VirtualBox (Yes I know you could use VMware, but AFAIK that’s not free and VirtualBox is just as free as Virtual PC. As indicated in the comments, VMWare Server is apparently Free.)

This is a wonderful app produced by Sun which seems to have little to no issues running VHDs created for use with VPC.

The one issue I encountered, was that I had to change the default network adapter from "PCnet-Fast III" to "PCnet-PCI II" before my guest OS would recognise the External network and the internet beyond.

That done though, everything seems fine, and the last of my Win7 worries have evaporated.

I will be installing Win7 RTM on both my home and work machines over the weekend :)


Steve said...

VmWare Server is free mate ;). Been using at home for some time now.

Miha Markic said...

And IMO VMWare Workstation's snapshot manager is worth the price.