My Experience running Windows Vista Beta 2 in a Virtual PC

Great to see you all at the Adelaide Innovation 2006 Windows Vista and Office 2007 event last week, that plus 2 User Groups and 1 ACS meeting then I think I handed out some 300 copies of Windows Vista and Office last week:-)

Hmmm, now I'm sure you wouldn't leave your copies of Vista to languish unloved on a shelf somewhere would you!!  But I also appreciated having a spare machine that you can flatten to load Vista may be a big ask (though you can dual boot XP and Vista).  If this is the case and your main machine is reasonably well speced then how about loading Vista up i
n to a Virtual PC!!  It now works surprisingly well!!

Yup, up till now running Windows Vista in a Virtual PC has been a painful experience and not really worth the effort.  But we've now released Windows Vista Beta 2 Optimized Virtual PC Additions and the experience is on par with running Windows XP or Server 2003 in a Virtual PC. 

It's obviously not as good as the real thing, you don’t get to see the sexed up desktop in all its glassy glory but hopefully by now you'll have figured that the enhancements in Windows Vista are more than just skin deep and there are a stack of things for you to explore, test and give feedback on!!

Two things happened with Virtual PC over the last month or so

  1. Virtual PC is now freely (no charge) available – click here for more info and to download
  2. Windows Vista B2 Virtual PC Additions were released on to  Get yourself logged in to the site, select "Available Connections", scroll to the bottom on the page, click on "Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta" and off that link you will find the Windows Vista Beta 2 Virtual PC/Server Additions.

To get Windows Vista up and running in a Virtual PC you'll need the following

  1. 512 MB of memory that you can allocate to a Virtual PC - obviously the more the better!!
  2. Approx 8 gig of free disk space - but more to install Office 2007 and Visual Studio 2005, Windows SDK, Expression etc...
  3. a CPU with a reasonable amount of grunt, I'm running my Vista Virtual PC happily on a 3gig P4 laptop

To create your Virtual PC do the following

  1. Create your Virtual PC from the Virtual PC Manager ensuring you allocate a minimum of 512MB of memory to the image.
  2. Load up your Vista DVD (if loading from an ISO image then follow the instructions here as the ISO image is bigger than 2.2 gig)
  3. Follow the Windows Vista install options, enter the product key and leave it to churn away - it'll take awhile ( a good hour or so depending on your host system config)
  4. When the install has completed you'll need to load in the Virtual PC Additions.  Until you do this, the Windows Vista Virtual PC will hammer all your CPU resources and disk IO will be painfully slow
  5. On your host machine (not the guest) run the Vista B2 Virtual PC Additions MSI file that you downloaded from  This will unpack the "VMAdditionsforVistaB2.iso" file by default in to the "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual Machine Additions" directory.
  6. Log on to the Windows Vista Virtual PC and wait for it to settle down - but CPU will still be burning 100%!!
  7. From the Virtual PC Guest menu, select "CD" and then "Capture ISO Image" and select the ISO image you unpacked in to the "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual Machine Additions" directory.
  8. The Virtual PC additions installation program should auto start in the Guest machine and just follow the install prompts.
  9. Reboot and now you'll have a well behaved Windows Vista Beta 2 installation that doesn't chew all your CPU and with reasonable disk IO performance:-)
  10. As per Performance Optimisation Guidelines for Virtual PC guests, I disabled "Enable write-caching on the disk" in the Vista guest machine, otherwise no other changes.

Other stuff I loaded on to this image

  1. Office 2007 Beta 2
  2. Visual Studio 2005
  3. Windows SDK for Windows Vista Beta 2
  4. Orcas addin for VS 2005
  5. Expression Interactive Designer
  6. VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office) 3 June CTP - using this hack -

Stuff I tried

  1. Created a simple .NET Framework 3 (WinFx) Windows Communication Service and a Windows Client to consume the service - pushed allocated memory to 528MB - see screen shot here.
  2. Started up Expression Interactive Designer (May CTP) and opened the "Fabrikam Catalog Special Effects" demo and pressed F5 to run - pushed allocated memory to 544MB - see screen shot


  1. Running Vista against a real PC will always be better!!
  2. 512MB is a min of ram you can get away with (actually it's an install minimum as well), the system will start over allocating memory pretty quickly and performance will drop back a lot, I found allocating 768MB to the Virtual PC was not a bad compromise.
  3. You'll see the Vista desktop in fall back mode given the graphics driver in the VPC is only a 8MB S3 emulation, but that still leaves lots to explore
  4. Check out Windows Foundation labs at

    1. The Windows Presentation Foundation Labs are at
    2. The Windows Communication Foundation Labs are at
    3. The Windows Workflow samples are at

Other stuff

  1. Want to run Virtual Server 2005 R2 on a Vista Client?  Then check out Ben's blog entry here
  2. Want to keep tabs on what is happening with Virtualisation and Vista then add the Ben's and Mike's blogs to your RSS reader (which by now could be Outlook 2007:-))

    1. Ben's Virtual PC Guy is at
    2. Mike's Virtually Vista is at

Cheers, Dave






Comments (5)

  1. Brian Howden says:

    Does this work with the Beta 2 refresh (build 5472)?  Several reports indicate that it does not.  Any update on when we will get updated VM additions?

    Other than the above, I love VPC and live in a virtual world all the time.  


  2. Dave Glover says:

    Hi there Brian, have been pestering the produst team on this one and the only commitment I could get was that they were looking at it…  

    I did try th VPC Additions for Vista B2 on the June CTP (not the July 5472) and they did work, I think the issue is around performance rather than stability.  

    Sorry not tried the 5472 bits in a VPC yet, if I get a chance I’ll post my experiences here…

    Cheers, Dave

  3. Dave Glover says:

    Finding the VPC Additions for Vista B2.

    Someone was having probs finding the additions on the site as above.

    Basically get yourself to the Virtual Server page and then down the left hand side of the screen you should see a "Download" link, click it and you should see the additions.

    Cheers, Dave

  4. Dave Glover says:

    Hi Brian, VM Additions for Vista June and July CTPs then check out

    Cheers, Dave

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