Virtual PC 2007 Released!

Great news!

Virtual PC 2007 has been finalized and been released to the web for download today.  You can read more about Virtual PC 2007 (and download it), from the new (and great looking!) Virtual PC website:

Features of Virtual PC 2007:

  • Support for x64 Windows as a host operating system
  • Support for hardware virtualization support
  • Support for Windows Vista as a guest and host operating system
  • Support for sound devices within a Windows Vista Guest operating system
  • Support for PXE network booting of virtual machines
  • Support for the use of fullscreen virtual machines on multi-monitor systems (VM still stays on just one monitor though)
  • Free. (Can't beat that!)

The Technical Overview White Paper is available, (you will need an XPS Viewer) if you want to read more about the inner workings and changes with Virtual PC 2007.

So can I run Exchange 2007 in a Virtual PC Environment then? Unfortunately, once people see "x64" support in the feature list, they stop reading at that point, and miss the note that x64 versions of Windows are supported as the HOST. Not the guest… There is a 32 bit version of Exchange available for testing purposes, but it is not supported in production. A pre-configured VPC of Exchange 2007 is available here, and it works great within VPC 2007. (You will receive a message that the hardware standard isn't recognized, but it will then boot up and run just fine…)

Support for 64 bit GUEST operating systems will come with Windows Server Virtualization within 180 days of the release of Longhorn. There are some AWESOME capabilities that will be introduced with WSV and System Center Virtual Machine Manager that should keep our friends at VMWare busy for a while. I'll try to post some more information once I take the time to figure out what is public and what is not 😉

While you're at it, Virtual PC Images of the following applications are available (perfect for testing them out, working on a certification, or to build another skill set to add to your resume)

Now, in order to set this post aside from some of the other "Virtual PC 2007 has been released!" postings, I thought I would share some best practices relating to the usage of Virtual PC that I have picked up from doing demos over the last year or so (as well as from an internal demo optimization doc that made its way into my inbox a few months ago):

  1. I'll start with the obvious… the more RAM the better. You need to have enough RAM to run your host operating system, your guest operating system(s), plus an additional 32MB of overhead for each guest OS that you will be running. From my personal experience, 2GB of RAM is a good starting point.
  2. A CLOSE second to RAM is your hard drive configuration. If you are running your Host OS and Virtual machines from the same hard drive, you are in for a painful experience. For good performance you will want to move the .vhd files off to the fastest secondary hard drive possible. For a secondary internal hard drive, SATA or SCSI is ideal, and for an external HD, pick up an eSATA drive. This advice is even more important if your computer is a laptop, as they often have slow 4200 RPM hard drives that will struggle with the concurrent I/O load.
  3. If your Antivirus allows you to exclude files or directories from realtime scans, exclude the directory that holds your images (and/or exclude the following extentions: .vhd .vud .vsv .vfd .vmc)
  4. Keep the host computer hard drives defragmented.
  5. The smaller (or less fragmented) the VHD files the faster. Steps to shrink/defragment:
    1. In the VM run defrag (a couple of times). It might take a while (up to hours) but it is worth waiting for
    2. Run the VM precompactor – this is an ISO image. Just attach it to the VM . The precompactor will zero all the unneeded space in the VHD
      1. Load the 'Virtual Disk Pre-Compactor.iso' from the Virtual Machine Additions Directory
      2. Answer 'Yes' to start the zeroing
      3. Shutdown the VPC when done
      4. Use Virtual PC Disk Wizard to edit and compact the pre-compacted .vhd
  6. Use a processor with Virtualization Technology (Intel Page, AMD Page). This is any reasonably recent processor. This will greatly speed up the OS boot time, OS installation time, and performance in non-Windows operating systems (as well as Windows installations that to not have the Virtual PC Additions loaded). On guest Windows installations that have the Virtual PC Additions loaded, performance is significantly enhanced), which brings us to:
  7. Load the Virtual PC Additions. These are included with Virtual PC, and will need to be loaded in the Guest operating system. This will load up drivers for the virtualized hardware, allow for folder sharing (with the host OS), drag-and-drop functionality (from the host OS), synchronize time with the host OS, and generally turn on "Teh Snappy"
  8. Start up Virtual PC with the following option (Best way is to create a shortcut on your desktop): -usehostdiskcache From the command line reference:

    Turns on host-side disk caching, which can improve performance of virtual machines running operating systems other than Windows. This parameter can be useful for resolving poor performance problems with disk intensive tasks. This parameter can be used only when starting Virtual PC.

  9. Do NOT use the /3GB switch on your Host machine. That switch increases the user memory space at the expense of Kernel space. Virtual machines use more kernel memory than user memory – so enabling this switch on the host will decrease the amount of virtual machines that you can launch
  10. I'll leave you with a tip that would seem to defy logic (and which I have not tried myself), but the word on the street is that you can increase performance by enabling NTFS compression on the directory that holds your Virtual PC image files (.vmc, .vud and .vhd). It seems that writing a big chunk to disk is slower than first compressing the chunk and then write it to disk.

I'll finish with some links to useful Virtualization reading:

Virtual PC Guy's WebLog
Tips to speed up Virtual PC for Microsoft CRM
Virtual Server Community

Post any virtualization questions (relating to Microsoft virtualization solutions) in the comments, and I'll answer to the best of my ability! I am really excited about both what we have as well as what is coming, and I'd love to answer any questions in the tech community at large.

Comments (12)
  1. Anonymous says:

    This site is more than just the ordinary VPC 2007 is released, it offers a couple of nice tips and tricks

  2. Anonymous says:

    As we have just announced over 1 MILLION downloads of Virtual PC 2007 (since its release on February

  3. Anonymous says:

    In a previous post , I alluded to the fact that there were some awesome things in the pipeline in regards

  4. Anonymous says:

    The product groups have been going buck-wild releasing preconfigured Virtual PC/Virtual Server images

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have been using Virtual PC 2007 for the last few months as it worked its way through Beta, and have

  6. Anonymous says:

    OverviewOk, so the scenario goes like thisOur hero, the Sys Admin, finds out that a whole new microlab is due online in 4 weeks. He has two weeks leave booked before then.Physical PCs have a delivery time of 6 weeks after ordering (the Uni deal, no wa

  7. Anonymous says:

    There are a million different resources out there, from MSLearning to Exam Cram books, to MSPress books

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m really sorry to say but I don’t think VMWare is that worried.  x64 machines have been out now for at least 2-3 years, various groups at MS (SQL Server, Exchange, AD infrastructure) have touted the power of x64 for so long that Enterprises are well on their way to migrating to x64 hardware.  Without the ability to test the x64 stack on their virtual equipment there will be very people who continue to use Virtual Server but instead will use the free VMWare server product that is avaliable.  You guys are really behind the curve on this one & it’s going to hurt the continued adoption of your virtualization technologies.

  9. The Sean Blog says:

    It turns out that Window Home Server installs into (and works fine on) Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.

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