Using Windows Vista / Longhorn Server Beta 2 on Virtual PC or Virtual Server

I've got to say, I've been using Vista and Longhorn Server internally for a very long time now - pretty much since Beta 1 was released - and I'm very impressed at how far we've come with the product.  There are still some rough edges, but there's time to fix all that.  Beta 2 is a fantastic product and I can't wait for the RTM release.

But enough of all that. 

You guys and gals came here to hear what I have to say about using Vista/LHS under Virtual PC and Virtual Server - not gush about what a great product Beta 2 is (though, it really is a great product).  So, without further ado:

Setup is a piece of cake.  As of build 5365, you no longer have to prepare your hard drive ahead of time, so you got that going for you.  If you're using Virtual PC (or Virtual Server RTM), you still need to use an alternate way to mount the ISO in the virtual machine.  I would recommend you use the Microsoft VirtualCD tool *.  Once you've got the ISO mounted, configure pass-through to let VPC/VS mount the drive in the VM, and you're set.

So, everything in Virtual Vista-land is way cool.

However... the VM Additions are broken, once again.  The Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Additions no longer improve performance to an acceptable state.  So what's a Virtual Vista user to do?

We got ya covered, folks.  An updated build of the VM Additions that work with Windows Vista/LHS will be available from BetaPlace shortly (I'll post an announcement when it's live).  Just a quick download, a quick install, and you'll be set.  Aren't we good to you?  (It should go without saying that these Additions are totally unsupported.  Don't use them on production VMs.) 

Oh, and don't forget that you can [sort of] get Glass working in a VM if you've got a physical Glass-capable Vista machine... you know... just in case you miss teh pr3tty.

* I know that a lot of you use various different methods to get this accomplished.  I'd like to suggest a Call To Action here, though.  Some people have been getting some rather cryptic error message while installing Vista in a VM, and it's something that I've never been able to reproduce.  The error code describes a problem while accessing data on the removable media, so it's definitely something to do with the data being read from the disc.

I'd like everyone to really think about what they're doing when they make the media available to Virtual PC or Virtual Server if they happen to see this error message.  If you're using Virtual PC or Virtual Server RTM, how are you getting the media into the VM?  Are you using an ISO mounting tool on the host?  If so, which tool?  Which version?

Are you burning the ISO to physical media?  If so, what burning software?  Which version?  What type of physical media are you using? 

If you're getting the error message during setup, try changing something in your process - use a different tool to mount or burn the ISO.  Get some different media.  Experiment with it and see if it goes away.  And by all means, please let me know what you find out 😉

Comments (28)

  1. Norman Diamond says:

    > An updated build of the VM Additions that work with

    > Windows Vista/LHS will be available from BetaPlace

    I understood your statement that you’re not responsible for MSDN, but still, is there any chance that customers who pay for this kind of thing might be made eligible to receive this kind of thing?

    > rather cryptic error message

    I’m beginning to wonder if DVD drive firmware might be partly to blame.

    For comparison there is one model of DVD drive from which one version of Knoppix cannot be booted, but swapping DVD drives solves the problem and swapping Linux distros solves the problem.  Also creating a VM, letting the guest control the physical drive, and booting that version of Knoppix on that model of DVD drive but in a VM solves the problem.

    An unrelated model of DVD drive and some different unrelated products on DVD media had the opposite problem, they weren’t readable in a VM but the physical host could read them, Daemon tools could access the copied image, and the VM could access Daemon tools’s image.

    This has been enough evidence for me to think that no single component is entirely to blame.

  2. Mike Kolitz says:

    I agree with you, Norman.  For a release as important as Beta 2, I believe that a wide audience should have access to these updated additions.  

    I don’t have all of the information about how they’ll be released yet, but if it looks like it’s going to be a pretty limited release, I’ll make sure I voice my concern.

  3. Ronny Ong says:

    It’s great to hear that there will be an interim release of VM Additions but how about a Vista-compatible SCSI Shunt driver for Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1? Vista Beta 2 doesn’t see a storage driver on the VFD which comes with R2 SP1 Beta 1, which presumably leaves IDE the fastest way to get Vista installed under Virtual Server. Unfortunately, I don’t find it fast enough. I can’t say exactly why, because Section 6 of the Microsoft Pre-Release Software License Terms prohibits publication of benchmarks, as does Section 4 of the Software Beta Test Agreement from a competing product…a product which may or may not install Vista Beta 2 more than twice as fast on the same host hardware in controlled tests that I may or may not have run. I would like to think that enabling multiple concurrent I/O during Vista Setup via the SCSI Shunt driver would help close any gap which may or may not exist.

  4. Loic says:

    Just wonder… Does Virtual PC 2004 run under Vista, so we can still use Windows XP on a Virtual Machine…

  5. Dylan says:

    I’m anxiously awaiting the new VM Additions so I can give Vista a run through it’s paces, and test our in-house software to ensure it works properly in Vista.

    I do not have access to BetaPlace, but I do have an MSDN Universal (Premium) subscription.  When these new Beta VM Additions are released will there be a way for people such as myself to access them?  And how will I know when they are released?  Is the best way just to monitor your blog, or is there a more official way to monitor when they are ready to go?

  6. Mike Kolitz says:

    Hi Dylan,

    We’re working on getting everything ready to get these new additions out the door.

    Unfortunately, I’m not the one who makes the decisions about who will be able to get them and who won’t, so I can’t make any promises, but I will do whatever I can to make sure that these new Additions are as widely available as possible.  

    As for the announcement, the best way for you to stay informed is probably to watch my blog (or subscribe to the RSS feed).  I’ll make a post about the Additions as soon as they’re available.

  7. Norman Diamond says:

    Tried to install Vista Beta 2 under Virtual PC 2004 SP1, 32768MB virtual HDD, 512MB RAM, and control of the physical DVD+RW drive.  The real machine’s Windows XP SP2 does not report any errors reading my burned DVD+RW medium.  The guest boots, prompts for my product key, and then says it can’t open the Windows image file.

    Shift+F10 brings up a command prompt.  One might hope that performance of this operation might improve before release.  A DIR command doesn’t seem to have any trouble.  One file is listed with size around 4GB, obviously occupying most of the DVD+RW medium.

    There’s an option for system recovery, but that operation dies pretty quickly.

    Users with the biggest problems have the fewest problems to report, because we can’t even get started.

  8. Norman Diamond says:

    > Tried to install Vista Beta 2 under Virtual PC 2004 SP1,

    > 32768MB virtual HDD, 512MB RAM, and control of the

    > physical DVD+RW drive.

    Solved by having the real machine read the entire DVD into an image file (which should be equal to the image originally downloaded) and playing the Daemon Tools stunt.  Now virtually walking.

  9. Thomas Lee says:

    So where are these additions? MS folks are using them, it would appear, in VM demos, so they must be stable. Please release them.

  10. Norman Diamond says:

    I installed the ordinary VM Additions from Virtual PC 2004 SP1.  Vista Beta 2 did not virtually BSOD.  Mouse acceleration and time of day acceleration are working.  The network is still inaccessible, but probably there’s another reason for that.  I didn’t have time yet to see if there are any other effects.

    Networking in guest machines has been screwed up ever since I obeyed Microsoft’s instructions on how to use ActiveSync with emulators for Pocket PC 2003 and Smartphone 2003.  Eventually I learned that Microsoft’s instructions would be useless even if they didn’t destroy virtual networking, because ActiveSync 4.0 and later have deleted the ability to do ActiveSync over a network (virtual or real).  I reinstalled Virtual PC 2004 SP1, and deleted and reinstalled networking components in the real machine in order to use Virtual Machine Network Services from this service pack, but virtual networking never recovered completely.  I assume I’ll have to reinstall Windows XP on the real machine.

  11. I have been a little sluggish getting back into the routine of blogging and stuff since I went on vacation…

  12. John Walker says:


    I’m eagerly awaiting the newer version of the VM additions as running Vista B2 under VPC on a screaming XPS Dual Core is unusable.

    Rick Strahl posts a similar experience…

    Any help would be appreciated…Thanks.


  13. Jeff Barnes says:

    I am also experiencing miserably poor performance with Beta 2 using the current VM additions.  So, I downloaded <a href="; target="_blank">VMWare Server</a>.  It is free, but in beta.  However, they are supposedly going to continue to allow it be a free product after the official release.

    I haven’t experienced any problems so far.  Actually, it blew Virtual Server out of the water in terms of performance, even before I installed VMWare Tools (their version of VM additions).  I have been a pretty big fan of MS Virtual Server, but my brief exposure to VMWare Server has me waffling a bit…especially given my frustration over the problem with the current VM additions in regards to Beta 2.

    You might consider it as an alternative, at least on a temporary basis until the new VM additions are released.  If nothing else, it allows you to get moving with Beta 2.

  14. Laurence M. Schwarz says:

    Hey John,

    Ditto here.  XPS 400 w/dual 3GHz procs & 2GB of RAM.  Completely unusable.  Very much looking forward to the correct VM Additions.  Hey, does anyone know whether or not you can run Virtual Server 2005 R2 AND VMWare on the same box?



  15. Chris says:

    You asked a while ago in your "Glass working in a VM" post if a someone had any specific complaints with VPC.

    Although i like both VPC and VMware (I’m forced to use both for work), i have a couple of suggestions.

    Make it so we can maximise the window (and the res change to what ever fits).

    If pointer integration is off when the user enters the VPC move the mouse in the VPC to be where the user entered from the host and same for when they leave (don’t center the mouse).

    I often wish i could turn off pointer integration and have my mouse lock inside the VPC until i release it (although i know a work mate hates that in VMware).

    Some times i need to shrink the width of the VPC window, however because of the vertical scroll bar i get a horizontal one as well (as the max window size is based on the VPC client OS res). It would be handy when calculating the max size of the VPC window if it could take in to account the scroll bars when shown and increase accordingly (or just resize Client OS to be smaller).

    I know these are only small things, but they seem to bug me, still good app.

  16. Luc Geurts says:

    OK, I have VMWare running. Blows away Microsoft. Woooopppeeee, Vista is speedy and no problems. Everybody with probs, try VMWare. Guaranteed to work.

  17. It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to install Virtual PC SP1 before installing Vista. Otherwise you get cryptic error messages. Unfortunately ActionPack Virtual PC comes without the SP. The download can be found under:

    CAUTION: change language if necessary

  18. James Anderson says:

    We are a large ISV who has come to depend on Virtual Machine technology to increase productivity. We have some fundamental changes that we know we must make for our product to work in Vista on day 1 of its RTM and we know roughly how long these changes will take to make.

    I persuaded my entire company to move to MS Virtual Server / MS Virtual PC and ditch their plans to use VMWare flavours. I’m increasingly being told how Vista will run fine under VMWare and I know from experience that Vista beta 2 is currently unusable with the current VM additions.

    Come on Microsoft, please post these new additions (beta or not) so we can move forward with our development with Vista. Otherwise we’re going to have to migrate to VMWare and I feel there will be no turning back to MS Virtual products if that happens.

    If the new additions are in private beta, please post details on how to get involved as an ISV.

  19. Luc Geurts says:

    One of our clients yesterday got rid of Virtual Server in favor of VMWare. We are talking more then 50 servers going to virtual. They needed a long time to decide but what made them choose VMWare? Microsoft malsupport for Vista Beta 2. Besides losing them to VMWare, we also made a fool of ourselves by telling them to use Virtual Server… That’s the saddest part of the case.

  20. Mike Kolitz says:

    The Beta 2 Additions are nearly ready for release.  I wish I could say that it would be a matter of days, but the actual timeline is out of my control.  

    I can assure you all, though – it will be soon.  We are actively working on this, and we’ve gotten past our major roadblock.

    On a personal note, I know that we haven’t been right on top of this one, and for that I’m sorry.  The ball was dropped.  I’m personally going to do what I can to prevent this from happening again.

  21. The__Stranger says:

    Any suggestions on running vista virtually without running 100% processor rate?  I have a 2.8GHz Dual Core processor with a Gig of Ram, running Virtual Server under XP x64.  The only thing running on the system is the Vista Beta 2 virtual machine and it’s maxed all the time.

  22. graphics7 says:

    I have a 3.2GHz system with more than enough video memory, trying to run the beta2 in a VPC on XP Pro.

    I can’t imagine actually using Vista if it is this slow.

    I thought I would drop by to check up on any update on the Beta 2 additions. You know, it has been 2 1/2 months now.

    And it has been over a month since your last post.


    [Actually, my last post was just a week or so ago.  Check this post for more information about updated Additions: – mikekol]

  23. Vista Beta 2 in Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (What a PITA!)

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