Running Vista under Virtual Server

Installing Vista under Virtual Server 2005 R2 is significantly easier than installing under VPC or Virtual Server 2005 RTM.  There are two main reasons why:

  1. Virtual Server 2005 R2 includes the new version of the Additions that work (but are UNSUPPORTED) on Vista.

    - and -

  2. Virtual Server 2005 R2 can mount an ISO file that exceeds 2GB in size.

To install Vista under Virtual Server 2005 R2, configure a new Virtual Machine and mount the Vista ISO.  Start the vm and boot to the Vista disc.  Prepare your Virtual Hard Disk, and reboot (to the Vista disc again).  Answer the questions you're asked, and install the Virtual Machine Additions that ship with R2 once Vista is installed. 

Easy, huh?

If you're using Virtual Server 2005 RTM, take a look at my instructions for installing under Virtual PC - they're quite similar.

Comments (20)

  1. Inker says:

    Thanks alot, did as you suggest and now have Vista running under VPC 2004.

    It was very slow to install, and also extremely slow (unusable) until I got the additions installed, but now it works quite nicely actually.

    Except for one thing. The themes service wont start and thus I’m stuck with classic theme. Any Ideas what could be wrong/if this is related to running under VPC at all?

    The themes service terminated with the following error: Access is denied!

    This happens when I manually want to start the themese service because when I try to select aero it tells me it cant because the (duh!) themes services isnt running.

    Any Advice? Surely Aero Basic should work under VPC since its basically like XP?

  2. Mike Kolitz says:

    Hi Inker,

    I’m not aware of any issues between the theme service and Virtual PC.

    Are there any error messages in the Event Viewer that might offer more details about why the Theme service isn’t starting? Also, are you elevating the rights of the tool you’re using to try to start the service manually? By default LUA/UAP/UAC (whatever it’s called now) will run your applications as a normal user, even if you’re a member of the administrators group.

  3. Inker says:


    Thanks for the reply. I actually did not run as elevated. However I just tried to do so and it still says Access denied. Here’s what I did.

    Start – type "compu" and then click on computer managment and select run elevated. It then asks for permission and starts. I go to services and try to start the themes service.

    Very weird.

    BTW, any Idea how i can run stuff as elevated when I type into the run command? I usually just hit win+r and type services.msc but now it seems i can never start that as "administrator" this way?

    Thanks for your help

  4. Inker says:

    Sorry, forget about event viewer. Not sure, there are some erros logged, but I’m not sure if they are related. I seem to get this one alot:

    The application-specific permission settings do not grant Local Launch permission for the COM Server application with CLSID


    to the user CHRIS_PCChris SID (S-1-5-21-1975126763-1969854947-3093456389-1000). This security permission can be modified using the Component Services administrative tool.

    Sometimes the CLSIDs change.

    On a side note. While trying to post this error just noticed I cant paste clipboard contents from the guest system into the host system. Am I doing something wrong here?


  5. Mike Kolitz says:

    Doing a search on that error message leads to this KB article ( It says it’s only for XPx64, but I suppose it couldn’t hurt to try out the resolution.

    As for why it happened? I’m not sure. I’d be interested to know if you can reproduce the error in another VM.

  6. Inker says:

    Thanks for the link. I’ll give it a try, however I’m not even sure the two problems are related.

    Also by "another VM" do you mean as in simply reinstalling Vista a second time under VP or do you mean in a different product, so somethign like vmware? The first I have already tried (reinstall) the second I have not since I don’t have another virtual machine product.

    I might try it in virtual server 2k5, perhaps that has better support for vista? Can I just run the VHD from VPC2k4 in VS2k5?

  7. Mike Kolitz says:

    Yes, you can run the VHD you created in VPC under Virtual Server – the VHD format has not changed.

    By "another VM" I meant creating a new VM under Virtual PC and installing Vista again.

  8. Naveen kada says:

    Thank for the tips.. good that I read your posts before installing vista on VPC 2004.. had easy time installing it.



  9. Adam B says:

    Hello All

    I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on a networking problem I an having on my Virtual Vista boxes running on R2

    Anyway I cannot seem to get it networked, I am using the TCPIP 4 protocol and have setup my IP’s.

    IT looks like it accepts them OK, but when I do a ipconfig /all is displays the 192.XXXXX  address instead??

    Anyone any ideas?

  10. Mike Kolitz says:


    Is this something that you’re only seeing with Vista as the guest OS?

  11. Adam B says:


    Yes it is I have 1 other virtual running on the box as it is a new build and that is running fine

    Thanks for the help

  12. Adam B says:

    On the Network Connection I have a gold padlock??  Also I have disabled all the firewall settings as the server is in a test domain

  13. Mike Kolitz says:

    The golden padlock is a visual cue that the firewall is actually enabled, so you’ll want to check that out.

    Do you have DHCP/DNS enabled in Virtual Server?  Is the VM that’s experiencing the problem set to use the NIC, or a virtual network?

  14. There haven’t really been any changes to the process of installing Vista in a Virtual Machine. …

  15. Norman Diamond says:

    Regarding network settings:

    A while back I experimented with Vista beta 1 retail build 32-bit in a VM.  I did several installations under VPC on two real machines.  In every case I tried to set fixed IP addresses to communicate through the real machine’s loopback adapter.  100% of the time the network settings applet accepted the settings and pretended to work.  90% of the time it was lying and it continued to use its autoconfigured 169.something address that couldn’t reach anything.  10% of the time it obeyed until the next virtual reboot.

  16. Mike Kolitz says:

    Norman – lots has changed since Vista beta 1.  Please give it a shot again with the February CTP and see if you’re still having the issue.

  17. Joe Mierwa says:

    Here’s a question; With 1G RAM, and a reasonably average machine with Virtual Server 2005 RTM, how much tim,e should I allow for the install on average? I ask because it always starts out as a reasonable pace and at about 1/3 of the way through, it goes to a crawl. It takes about 15 minutes for the first third, and it took the next 7 hours to get through the next 16th or so. It is still not 1.2 way through.

    I only discovered that it keeps going, albeit very, very slowly when I threw in the towel and decided to see what happened overnight.

    Is R2 of server 2005 known to spped the actual install up?

  18. Mike Kolitz says:

    At one point, I believe I timed out a an Ultimate install at a little under 2 hours.  This was under Virtual Server 2005 R2 in a VM with 512MB of RAM – the host machine is a quad-proc.

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