Windows Virtual PC: Create and Configure New Virtual Machines

In my last post, I taught you how to install Windows Virtual PC and use a default install of Windows XP. Today we will continue by installing and configuring new virtual machines in Windows Virtual PC.


Opening Windows Virtual PC

Let’s begin by selecting Start | All Programs | Windows Virtual PC | Windows Virtual PC . A Windows Explorer snap-in appears with the ability to create new virtual machines.


The Windows Virtual PC Snap-in is where you create virtual machines.

Figure A: The Windows Virtual PC Snap-in is where you create virtual machines.


Creating a New Virtual Machine

Click “Create virtual machine” button and the “Create a Virtual Machine Wizard” appears as shown in Figure B.


Figure B: Specify the name of your virtual machine.


Type a name for the virtual machine you want to create. The virtual machine is automatically stored in the following default path: “C:UsersStevenAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindows Virtual PCVirtual Machines.” Click  “Browse…” if you want to save the virtual machine to a different path. Click “Next” and type the amount of memory you want to use (Figure C). In this example, I am configuring the memory to 1000 MB.


Type the amount memory your virtual machine consumes.

Figure C: Type the amount memory your virtual machine consumes.


Additionally, leave the default checkbox selected if you want to connect your virtual machine to an external network. If you want it disconnected from your network, deselect the check box. Click Next and you are ready to add a virtual disk as shown in Figure D.


Adding a virtual disk (vhd)

Figure D: Adding a virtual disk (vhd)


You have the option of creating different kinds of virtual disks. They are: dynamically expanding virtual hard disk, fixed virtual hard disk, and differencing disk.

A dynamic disk requires 8 MB of free space and will grow until you use all the hard drive space on your disk. A fixed virtual disk allows you to specify a size and grows the disk to that particular sized. Finally, a differencing disk stores changes in a separate disk so that you are able to isolate your virtual disk changes while leaving the original virtual disk untouched. If you do not select a disk option, the default value is to create a dynamic disk.

You also have the options of selecting to enable “Undo Disks.” The Undo Disk will store all the changes you have made to a virtual machine from when you turn on the feature. When you shut down the virtual machines, you have the ability to snap the changes back to the baseline. The baseline is what is configured before you enable Undo Disks. When you are done making your selections, click the “Create Button.”


Configuring the Setting on  a Virtual Machine

Now that you have learned how to create a new virtual machine, let’s move forward and configure the setting of the virtual machine. Our next step is to highlight the virtual machine we created and select the “Settings” button as shown in Figure E.



Figure E: Configuring your settings.


For example, you can change the memory by selecting “Memory” and changing the value (Figure F).


Figure E: Adjusting your virtual machine memory settings.

Figure F: Adjusting your virtual machine memory settings.


Adding virtual disks in Windows Virtual PC is as simple as highlighting Hard Disk 2 and clicking on the “Create” button and specifying the appropriate location.

Additionally, you can also switch back and forth from using ISO images and physical DVD media by choosing the following: “Open an ISO image” or “Access Physical Drive (Figure G).”

NOTE: ISO images are handy when your laptop or desktop doesn’t have a DVD drive installed.


Figure G: Changing your media.

Figure G: Changing your media.


When you are satisfied with your settings, click close. You can always power off a virtual machine and revisit this section when you choose to make changes.

Note: It is recommended that you spend some time on this page and explore all of the settings that are available to come up with your “sweet spot” virtual machine configuration.


Starting a New Windows Virtual PC Virtual Machine

Highlight the virtual machine you want to start and click the “Open” button. Additionally, you can right-click on the virtual machine and select “Open.” Once your virtual machine is running, you will notice how SLOWLY it runs–almost painful. At this point, I would like to introduce you to a feature called  Windows Virtual PC Integration Components. This is similar to what VMware Workstation calls VMware Tools. Installing Windows Virtual PC Integration components improves how your virtual machine will interact with your physical computer.

Note: Integration Components are supported only on the following Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista SP 1, and Windows XP SP 3

When you install the the Integration Components, you get the following enhancements:

  • Mouse Integration – This feature allows you to move your mouse seamlessly between your virtual machine and your physical machine without lag.
  • Time Synchronization – This feature synchronized your virtual machine (guest OS) to your physical machine.
  • Clipboard Integration – This feature allows you to copy and paste between your guest OS and your physical OS.
  • Disk Integration – This feature allows you to access physical disks within your virtual machine.
  • Audio Integration – This feature allows you to direct your audio from your physical machine to your virtual machine.
  • Printer Integration -This feature allows you to share  printers with your guest and physical machines.
  • USB Integration – This feature allow you to use all physical USB devices within your virtual machine (VM).


Installing Windows Virtual PC Integration Components

Once you have your virtual machine powered on,  click Tools | Install Integration Components and a message appears that you are about to install the Windows Virtual PC Integration Components. Click “Continue.” Next, run the setup.exe and click “Next” when the Welcome screen appears.Once the installation is complete, you are prompted to reboot your computer. After your computer boots up and you login with your credentials, click Tools | Enable Integration Features.

Note: You may be prompted to reboot your computer again.

Once the Integration Components are installed, you can review your settings or make changes by selecting Tools|Settings. Highlight Integration Features and you can modify your settings as shown in Figure H.

Note: A reboot is required if you make any changes to your integration features.


Off to the Races

You now have all the tools necessary to begin working with Windows Virtual PC. Download the product today and begin your exploration of the world of virtualization.


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