Effective immediately, you can now download Virtual PC 2004 SP1 from www.microsoft.com/virtualpc. When we release Virtual PC 2007 early next year, this too will be free. This brings parity with the changes for Virtual Server 2005 R2 earlier this year. The main change Virtual PC 2007 will bring is the ability to support 64-bit Windows Vista hosts. Note, guests will still be 32-bit only, but Windows Vista will be supported as a guest.
There is also a licensing change for Windows Vista Enterprise customers where the license will now permit the installation of up to 4 copies of the OS into VMs – this is for a single user on a single device. The licensing change is specific in that it requires Windows Vista Enterprise to be deployed on the host machine itself. If you buy Windows Vista Enterprise but use XP for example on the host, a license for each copy of Windows Vista Enterprise installed in the VM is required – in other words, in this circumstance, the 4 VM change does not apply.
So a few important points to additionally note:
- Virtual PC Express is effectively superceeded by Virtual PC 2004 SP1 – functionally they are identical except that Virtual PC Express is limited to one VM running at a time.
- If you want to run Windows Vista Beta 2 in a VM today, to get the performance accelerations from the VM Additions, use Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 1. In theory you could install the VM under Virtual PC 2004 SP1 and install the additions from Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 1 to achieve the same, but this is an untested situation AFAIK. There will be additions available soon which will provide acceleration for later builds of Windows Vista (post Beta 2).
- If you want to run 64-bit VMs, support for this will come in Windows Server Virtualization – neither Virtual PC or Virtual Server are currently planned to have 64-bit guest support.