Installing Virtual PC
Virtual PC (and Virtual Server) allow you to run other operating systems within Windows. It can be
downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx .
The guest operating system is stored in two files, a vhd file and a vmc file. The vhd file (for more
information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VHD_(file_format) )contains both the operating system
and any programs installed within it. Microsoft provides many of its products in this format for
evaluation purposes: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/bb738372.aspx , and it is also very handy as a
backup format. Vista backup uses this format, which means that if you have the disk space to do so, you
can back up your system and then test it using Virtual PC or Virtual Server! The VMC file is the
configuration file for the Virtual PC and contains hardcoded information such as the NIC card address.
System requirements (from the Microsoft site)
The Virtual PC application requires a 400 MHz Pentium-compatible processor (1.0 GHz or faster
recommended), and requires approximately 35 MB of disk space. It runs on Windows Vista Business,
Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows XP Professional, or Windows XP Tablet PC
Edition, Windows Vista SP1 (Enterprise, Business, Ultimate), Windows XP SP3.
The real requirements for running Virtual PC are those necessary to support the guest operating systems
that you will run. Add the disk requirements for every guest OS you’ll install and add the memory
requirements for every guest OS you will run simultaneously, plus memory for the host OS. Below are
the requirements for some of the operating systems that can be run as a guest operating system. Virtual
PC can run most x86 operating systems, not just the operating systems listed below, in a virtual machine
Guest Operating System
Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition 64 MB 500 MB
Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) 96 MB 2 GB
Windows 2000 Professional 96 MB 2 GB
Windows XP Home Edition 128 MB 2 GB
Windows XP Professional 128 MB 2 GB
Guest Operating System
Windows Vista Enterprise 512 MB 15 GB
Windows Vista Business 512 MB 15 GB
Windows Vista Ultimate 512 MB 15 GB
Windows Vista SP1 (Business, Enterprise, Ultimate) 512 MB 15 GB
Windows XP SP3 256 MB 3 GB
Windows Server 2008 512 MB 20 GB
OS/2 Warp Version 4 Fix Pack 15, OS/2 Warp 64 MB 500 MB
Convenience Pack 1, OS/2 Warp Convenience Pack 2
* Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements. Installing applications in a guest OS increases
requirements. Increasing memory beyond the minimum can result in significant performance increases.
** Includes OS/2 Warp 4 Fixpack 15, OS/2 Warp Convenience Pack 1, and OS/2 Warp Convenience Pack 2.
1. After verifying that your system meets the requirements, download the latest version of Virtual
PC from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx .
2. Install the Virtual PC program.
3. Start the Virtual PC program and select the New button. This will start a wizard, shown below:
4. Hit the next button, which will bring up the following screen. Choose create a virtual machine,
then hit next.
5. Give your virtual machine a name, and choose its location by using the browse button, then hit
6. Select the operating system you are going to install; here I chose XP, then hit next.
7. If desired, adjust the RAM the machine will use, or just hit next.
8. On the next screen, select using a new hard disk, then hit next:
9. Tell it the location for the new virtual hard disk, and also how big it should be (note that
whatever you put here will be all the virtual operating system sees for hard disk space, and that
the space will be allocated as “used” by your existing operating system.) Then hit next.
10. This should complete the wizard and generate the following screen. Just hit Finish:
11. Now make sure the new virtual machine has the correct settings by clicking on it and hitting the
settings button. The following screenshot gives an example of modifying which network
adapter the guest operating system will use:
12. Go back to the main screen, make sure you have the desired Virtual Machine selected, and hit
13. Since there is no operating system installed, it will come up with a request to insert boot media
(see screenshot below).
14. Use CD menu to select CD drive
15. Insert Windows XP disk
16. Hit enter
17. Windows setup will start.
18. Accept the license agreement
19. Allow it to use the full partition (should match what you allocated in the virtual machine)
20. Allow it to format the partition using the NTFS file system
21. Follow the prompts to complete the install.
Once you have completed the install, whenever you wish to use your “system within a system”, simply
start Virtual PC and then start the desired operating system. Enjoy!