Virtual machine resizing options under Virtual PC

Normally when you are running a virtual machine, we will display a window that exactly matches the size of the guest operating systems display.  This is because the guest operating system does not know it is inside of a virtual machine and believes that it is drawing to a physical monitor.

When you are running Windows with Virtual Machine Additions installed under Virtual PC we enable a feature called ‘dynamic resizing’.  This feature allows you to resize the virtual machine window and have the guest operating system automatically resize to fill the new window.  Not everyone likes this feature, and some applications have problems with non-standard resolutions (804 x 826 anyone?), so we provide a couple of options here:

  1. Allow any screen resolution

    This option means that you can resize the window anyway you want and the guest operating system will automatically change resolution to match.  This is the default for Virtual PC 2004.
  2. Only use standard screen resolutions

    This option allows you to resize the window – but ‘snaps’ you to standard resolutions such as 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768, etc…  This is handy if you want to be able to resize the window – but have applications that are resolution sensitive.
  3. Use guest operating system screen resolution

    This option essentially disables the screen resizing option and forces the window to remain the same size as the guest operating systems screen resolution.

One cool – but little known – trick is that if you have either option (1) or (2) selected you can get the reverse behavior by holding down the control key when you try to resize the virtual machine window.