I already reviewed Virtual PC 2007 beta sometime ago. My overall impression was not so positive at that time. Virtual PC 2007 RTM is available for download now. Today, I installed it again on a Vista machine.
Whenever I open Virtual PC 2007, I always think that I accidently started the wrong application. Its GUI is a tiny window with only a few menus offering a handful of options. It is hard to believe that this is the main competitor of VMware Workstation. Anyway, it is free and it is from Microsoft so it deserves a closer look.
The first thing, I found strange, is that I wasn’t able to find a function that allows me to import a virtual VMware machine. How can you compete with the market leader this way?
Creating a new virtual machine is easy, since the wizard doesn’t offer many settings, anyway. I wanted to change the amount of RAM to 1GB for my VM, but Virtual PC informed me that my host doesn’t have enough free memory. My PC has 3 GB RAM, 1 GB was being used by a VMware Workstation VM, so I had 2 GB RAM left for my host and the new Virtual PC VM. Strange!
So I installed Vista with only 512 MB RAM using the DVD. Installing a new operating in a VM always means heavy hard disk usage. This usually impairs the performance on the host machine, significantly. However, this didn’t happen with Virtual PC 2007. I think that VMware Workstation 6 Beta3 (with disabled debug mode) didn’t perform so well when I installed a Vista in a new VM. This, however, is just my impression.
Vista was working without any problems in my Virtual PC VM. I only played a little with it, though. Even with only 512 MB, my VM’s performance was OK. However, my hard disk was kept quite busy.
The most important new feature certainly is the Vista support as host and guest. The Virtual PC guy listed all new key features:
- 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 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)
Well, in my view, there are no new revolutionary features. I am still missing snapshot management, linked clones and the virtual network settings that I’ve known from VMware Workstation. Maybe the main rival product is not VMware Workstation, but VMware Server because it also for free. I would still prefer VMware Server.
The only reason, I can think of, for using Virtual PC 2007 is that it fully supports Vista. VMware Workstation 6 also supports Vista, but it is only in beta now. However, it makes a stable impression to me. If you disable the debug mode, the performance is OK, too. I somehow think that the final will be released very soon. So at the moment I don’t see any reason to use Virtual PC 2007. If you don’t want to spend money for virtualization software, you better work with VMware Server. If you often test software in a virtual environment, I recommend VMware Workstation. It is certainly worth your money.