Virtual PC 2007 on Vista … a test!

Microsoft just released a new version of their hosted virtualization product called Virtual PC 2007. One of the big bullet points is that it is designed to perform best on Windows Vista. Luckily, I have Windows Vista installed on my laptop at work, and I figured I would try to prove just how well it does perform.

Initially, I was going to perform a head-to-head comparison with VPC 2007 and VMWare Server on Vista, but alas, VMS is not compatible with Vista. I’ve read that one should expect Vista-compatibility in the next version of VMS.

First off, here’s where you can download Virtual PC 2007.

Now, I’m running VPC on my Windows Vista laptop, which is a Dell Latitude D820, with a 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo, dual-core processor, with 2GB of RAM, a 7200-RPM 100GB Hard Drive, and an on-board Intel 945 Graphics chipset. I freshly defragmented my laptop’s hard drive, before installing VPC, just to make sure the HDD would perform as fast as possible.

Installing VPC was a snap. Simply launch the setup.exe as an administrator (in order to avoid the annoying User Account Control prompts). Less than five minutes later, it’s up and running, without requiring a restart.

Setting up a Virtual Machine (VM) couldn’t be easier. Click on New… follow the wizard through creating a virtual machine, choosing the “guest” OS. You can choose nearly every flavor of Windows Desktop and Server Operating Systems, OS/2, and the invariably enigmatic “Other” OS (which probably means some variant of Linux).

One cool thing is that the wizard chooses the minimum recommended RAM for the OS you chose. One odd thing is that the default size for the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) that you attach to the VM is 100% of the free space left on your local hard drive; be careful to change this! Filling up your hard drive is a good way to force you to rebuild your computer.

Once you’ve configured your VM, click Start on the VPC Console dialog, and the VM powers on and begins to boot. There isn’t actually an OS installed on the VM, so you’ll need to attach a bootable CD or image file to the VM and go through the full OS installation steps, easy enough via the CD… menu option.

VPC Console

I went with Windows XP for my initial VM, with 256MB of RAM, and a 4GB Virtual Hard Drive. I figured that going through an installation of XP along with all 80 or so of the critical and optional updates that are required for a fresh build, would put VPC through its paces.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well it performed! Installing and patching XP didn’t take perceptibly any longer than when I’ve installed XP on full-physical hardware in the past (even on this same laptop). I was doing everything I would normally do on my laptop, while the XP VM was installing and patching, without any perceptible loss in performance. Launching Outlook 2007 and reading my email, browsing the web, working in Excel, all seemed as zippy as ever. In fact, I was able to rip (ahem…backup) two audio CD’s to Windows Media Audio Lossless format without a hiccup! That last is remarkable since a lossless compression of an audio file is extremely calculation-heavy.

Startup and Shutdown of the VM, too, didn’t seem to affect my normal activities. Also, these operations executed very quickly.

I did a little digging into the task manager and performance monitor on my laptop while running this VM. At startup, the CPU Utilization rarely rose higher than 50%, similarly at Shutdown. If the VM was just sitting there on the login screen, the CPU usage base-lined around 5-10%, which means there is a slight overhead for running the VM, but not terrible. The memory utilization on my laptop expanded to include the 256MB VM, but didn’t go beyond that, which is what I expected.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the ease of use and performance of Virtual PC 2007 on Windows Vista. And best of all, it’s completely free!

When a Vista-compatible version of VMWare Server is released, I’m looking forward to comparing this experience with that platform. Stay tuned!

VPC Running while I'm blogging about VPC


4 Responses to “Virtual PC 2007 on Vista … a test!”

  1. 1 Terrence Ryan February 22, 2007 at 19:33 pm

    Great review, Joe. I was eager to give it a shot but was wary because of my experiences with it last time.

    I’m giving it a shot now.

  2. 2 Mike June 25, 2007 at 16:29 pm

    I installed windows vista and was not happy with several issues with vista. So i made an image file (i have vista business), formated the harddrive, and reinstalled windows xp. Im using Virtual PC and was wondering how I can take my image file from the Vista backup and use it in Virtual Vista. Any ideas?

  3. 3 Basil August 5, 2013 at 22:42 pm

    Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and
    I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  4. 4 July 20, 2016 at 21:37 pm

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my subscribers would value your work.

    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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