Optimizing Windows Vista under Virtual PC

As I have been running builds of Windows Vista inside of virtual machines for a while now – I thought I would pass along some guidance I have for getting the best performance possible.  Below are a couple of steps I advise taking:

  1. The more memory you can assign to the virtual machine – the better.  Though make sure you leave enough memory for the host operating system.

  2. Install the Virtual Machine Additions that come with Virtual Server 2005 R2 – these make a world of difference.

  3. Turn off most of the advanced video animation.  You can do this by going to:
    1. ‘Start menu’
    2. –> right click ‘Computer’
    3. –> ‘Properties’
    4. –> ‘Advanced System Settings’
    5. –> hit the ‘Settings’ button under the ‘Performance’ section
    6. –> Uncheck everything except ‘Smooth edges of screen fonts’, ‘Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop’ and ‘Use visual styles on windows and buttons’ and then hit ‘OK’

  4. While you have the Advanced System Settings open – go to the ‘System Protection’ tab and disable this feature (you can use undo disks to get the same level of protection)

  5. Stop explorer from searching the network at odd times by going to:
    1. ‘Start menu’
    2. –> left click ‘Computer’
    3. –> select the ‘Tools’ menu
    4. –> ‘Folder Options’
    5. –> select the ‘View’ tab
    6. –> Uncheck ‘Automatically search for network printers’

  6. Finally – if you are using Virtual Server – do not use a desktop background

With all of these changes I have found Vista to be quite snappy inside of a virtual machine.  In fact I have taken to running Visual Studio 2005 in a virtual machine to allow me to do quick UI mockups with the Vista 2D theme.