How I was able to get Virtual Server 2005 to work on Windows Vista

Recently, I needed to configure and use a virtual server image that was provided to me by another team here at Microsoft.  In order to do this, I had to install and configure Virtual Server 2005 to host this image on my desktop OS.  I am running Windows Vista Ultimate edition on this system, and I found that I had to perform a few configuration steps in order to get Virtual Server 2005 to install and run correctly on Windows Vista.  I found these steps through various conversations and web searches, so I decided to consolidate them in one place in case anyone runs into similar issues in the future (and to make sure I could find them and replicate them again myself if I need to....)

Here are the steps I had to take on my Windows Vista Ultimate system in order to install, configure and use Virtual Server 2005:

Add IIS features on an existing Windows Vista OS

IIS is not installed by default when installing Windows Vista, so in most cases you will need to add several IIS features before being able to install Virtual Server 2005 on Windows Vista.   I used the following steps to add IIS to my Windows Vista system that is running the Ultimate edition:

  1. Go to the Programs and Features control panel.  I typically do this by pressing the Windows key + R and typing appwiz.cpl in the run dialog
  2. Click the Turn Windows features on or off link in the Tasks list on the left side of the Programs and Features control panel, and click Continue to launch with administrator privileges
  3. In the Windows Features dialog, locate the item named Internet Information Services in the feature tree.  Check the root node to enable the default set of IIS features
  4. Expand the root node and check the following child nodes that do not end up getting checked by default (this is the list of items that I checked, but I don't know for sure if all of them are necessary in order to use Virtual Server 2005):  all of the IIS 6 management tools under the Web Management Tools node, all of the features in the Application Development Features, Common Http Features and Security nodes under the World Wide Web Services node
  5. Click OK to add all of the IIS features that you selected in the previous 2 steps
  6. Reboot after IIS feature installation completes

Install Virtual Server 2005

Once you have added the appropriate IIS features on your Windows Vista system, you can proceed to install Virtual Server 2005.  You should see a UI page during Virtual Server 2005 setup that allows you to configure the Virtual Server web site.  If you have not properly configured IIS, you will likely see an error message during this phase of Virtual Server setup.  If that is the case on your system, you should reboot and then return to the Windows Features control panel and verify the installation state of the IIS components on your system.

Add an IIS handler mapping so it will treat EXE files as CGI

After adding IIS features to your Windows Vista system and installing Virtual Server 2005, you will need to configure a new handler mapping for the VirtualServer web site.  To do this, I used the following steps (there may be other ways of doing this, but this is the way I found that worked for me):

  1. Go to the Windows start menu, choose All Programs, then Administrative Tools, then Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager
  2. Click Continue to launch the IIS Manager application with administrator privileges
  3. In the Connections tree control on the left side of the IIS Manager UI, expand Web Sites, then expand Default Web Site, find the VirtualServer web site and click on it
  4. In the main pane, you should see /VirtualServer Home.  Select Group by area if it is not currently selected in the Group by drop down.  Then find the IIS settings section and double-click on the item named Handler Mappings
  5. In the Handler Mappings pane, right-click and select Add Module Mapping...
  6. In the Request path text box, enter *.exe
  7. In the Module drop-down, select CgiModule.  If you do not see CgiModule listed in this drop-down, you will need to go back to the control panel and make sure that you add the CGI feature to IIS (located under Internet Information Services | World Wide Web Services | Application Development Features | CGI in the Windows Features control panel), then try these steps again
  8. In the Name text box, provide a friendly name for the module mapping.  I used EXE-to-CGI, but it doesn't matter what you type here
  9. Click OK to add the module mapping to the VirtualServer web site
  10. In the Connections tree control on the left side of the IIS Manager UI, expand Web Sites, then right-click on the Default Web Site and choose Restart to make sure that the changes made above will take effect

Create a shortcut to launch the Virtual Server administration Web site as an administrator

In order to be able to launch the Virtual Server administration Web site on Windows Vista, you have to start Internet Explorer 7 with administrator privileges.  It is possible to manually launch IE7 by right-clicking on it and choosing Run as administrator, then manually navigate to the Virtual Server administrator site.  However, that can get annoying if you find yourself needing to open this site frequently.  Fortunately, I found this blog post that describes how to create a shortcut that will automatically launch IE7 with elevated privileges and navigate to the Virtuan Server administration Web site after you grant it permission to launch.  To summarize those steps, you will need to do the following:

  1. Right-click on your Windows Vista desktop and choose New, then Shortcut
  2. In the Create Shortcut dialog, copy and paste the following into the text box for the location of the item (this assumes you have Windows Vista installed to the default location on the C drive, so you will need to adjust this path as appropriate if that is not the case on your system):

    "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" http://localhost/VirtualServer/vswebapp.exe?view=1

  3. Click Next, then provide a friendly name for the shortcut such as Virtual Server administration site
  4. Click Finish to create the shortcut on your desktop
  5. Find the newly created shortcut, right-click on it and choose Properties
  6. Click the Advanced button in the Properties dialog
  7. Check the box labeled Run as administrator and click OK
  8. Move the shortcut to whatever location you prefer (the Windows start menu, the Quick Launch bar, etc)

<update date="10/31/2007"> Added steps to the shortcut creation instructions that I missed initially to cause the shortcut to prompt for elevation every time it is double-clicked </update>


Comments (11)
  1. ntpro says:

    Why not just use Virtual PC 2007?

  2. Recently I tried running Virtual Server 2005 R2 on Vista Ultimate edition, the program installed ok but

  3. Recently I tried running Virtual Server 2005 R2 on Vista Ultimate edition, the program installed ok but

  4. Hi,

    Thanks for your excellent explanation. It got me past the first hurdle. Now I can see the admin page at least!

    As I am struggeling to get the next step done, I would like to ask you if you can help me past the second one.

    I now try to create a virtual machine, but then get the message: The virtual machine could not be created. The default virtual machine configuration directory could not be retrieved. User does not have sufficient access rights.

    I am logged in as an administrator (the only user is me) on my own laptop, but for some reason I cannot just do everything on my own laptop.

    I would appreciate your help very much!



  5. Hi Waltheed – Just to confirm, are you running the Virtual Server administrator site with elevated permissions when you are attempting this scenario?  If so, then I’m not sure what to suggest because I haven’t run into this kind of scenario yet.  You may want to try to search on some of the Virtual Server forums to see if anyone else has run into a similar issue and might have some workarounds to suggest.

    I’m sorry I’m not able to be more helpful in this scenario.

  6. says:

    I have Vista Ultimate 32 bit edition.  I need to run Virtual Server 2005 to install a 2000 server os and exchange 2000.  I have tried all of the steps to run virtual server yet I still get the message;

    Could not connect to Virtual Server. Access Denied.

    Is anyone aware of any more solutions?

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