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Beginner: How To Create a Virtual Machine in Windows 7 Using Virtual PC

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Microsoft Virtual PC is a free application that helps you create your own virtual machines inside your current operating system, so you can test software, or learn a new environment easily. Here’s how to get started.

Using Windows Virtual PC

First, you need to download Virtual PC from Microsoft’s web site. You’ll want to make sure to select the right Windows 7 edition from the drop-down menu and then select Windows Virtual PC.

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It will ask you to install Virtual PC as a Windows software update.

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You will need to restart after the installation is done.

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After rebooting, you can find Windows Virtual PC in your start menu and select it to open the program.

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Click on Create virtual machine in the new window that opened.

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Now, you can write the name for your new Virtual Machine and the location to store the virtual machine file.

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In the next window, you can select the amount of RAM memory to assign to your virtual machine.

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In the next window, you will create a virtual hard disk where you will install your virtual operating system. You can select between a dynamically expanding virtual hard disk (it will grow according to your virtual machine space requirements), use an existing virtual hard disk or use advanced options.

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In the advanced options window, you can select to create a dynamically expanding hard disk (the hard drive will grow as your virtual machine needs), a fixed sized hard drive (you assign the amount of storage for it) and a differencing hard drive (the changes will be stored in a different hard drive so the original hard drive can be intact)

We will use a dynamically virtual hard drive for this example.

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You can now select the location for your virtual hard drive in your computer and the name for it.

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As we selected the dynamically expanding virtual hard drive, we will specify the maximum storage space for it to grow in the next window.

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And that’s pretty much it!

You have created a virtual machine and only need to install the operating system.

You can go to Virtual PC again, and will find your new Virtual Machine. Right click on it to select the settings or click on the Settings menu.

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In the settings windows, you can specify where the installation disk for your new operating system is located to install it in your new virtual machine.

Go to DVD Drive and select Access a physical drive if you loaded the installation CD / DVD in the computer’s Rom.vpc16

Or select Open an ISO image to select an image with the installation files to install an operating system on your new virtual machine.

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Once you’ve started up the virtual machine, just follow through the normal installation prompts to create your virtual operating system.

  • Published 03/29/11

Comments (42)

  1. Hatryst

    Is “Hardware Virtualization” required for Windows Virtual PC?
    VMWare requires it, what about this one?

  2. JP

    No, it isn’t. Hardware Virtualization is not needed for Virtual PC and XP Mode anymore.

  3. Ricardo

    What would be the advantage/disadvantage over other virtual programs like VMware. I know VirtualPC is free but what other differences separate the two? Great article by the way.

  4. JP

    You can use the integration features to have USB support (use the USB attached to the host in the virtual machine), folder integraton between host and guest OS, share clipboard and printers, support smart cards on host machines to connect to VPN or other secure applications, integrate with windows explorer and support for higher resolutions than used on most virtualization applications.

  5. Alek Davis

    Good tutorial, thanks. How much space (size on virtual hard disk) does a virtual PC instance need (for a bare-bone Windows 7 Premium installation)? Just wondering in case I want to make it portable, so I can carry the virtual PC file on a flash or USB hard drive (I can add additional requirements requirements for other programs like Visual Studio later, just need to know what the initial size is). Thanks.

  6. JP

    I installed a Virtual Windows 7 Ultimate and it took something like 10GB of initial space (although I used the dinamically expanding hard drive option). If you use a fixed hard drive option, you should better use the space requirements for a windows 7 installation which is 16GB

  7. dan

    I have two questions:
    1. I currently have Windows 7 Professional ( 32 bits) in the newly bought Notebook. I am interested in installing a WIndows 7 Enterprise ( or Win 7 Ultimate) for that matter. Is it possible to do so?
    2. Suppose I wanted to install a 64-bits Windows 7 Ultimate on the virtual machine Virtual PC, is it possible?
    Or suppose I wanted to permanently install a 64-bits Windows/Ubuntu OS on another partition in the same hard drive which has the 32-bits Win 7 Professional, will there be issues?
    Thanks a lot!!

  8. Anonymous

    Why did you choose Microsoft’s VM client? Personally, I can’t see any compelling reason to choose Microsoft over either VBox or VMWare. In fact, Microsoft seems to be pushing many of their potential VM users away! Microsoft seems to be strong-arming everyone into also getting their XP Mode package when getting their VM client (I know it is possible). Problem is, you pretty much have to have Windows 7 Ultimate as the host OS in order to get/use XP Mode. Even worse, you can’t use Microsoft’s VM client with any other OS other than Windows – the host must be either XP, Vista or 7 and that’s pretty much it. And it’s this host OS limitation which is primarily why I and many others usually end up with a non-Microsoft VM product like either Oracle’s VBox or VMWares Player too.

    So, knowing Microsoft’s somewhat draconian terms with regard to their Virtual Machine software (which should really be no surprise) and their limitations on what host OS you can actually use it with why would anyone choose it? I realize this article is for beginners but don’t you think it would be better to start them off with something better and probably easier? Wouldn’t Oracle’s VBox or even VMWare’s Player be a better choice if for no other reason other than the fact that those VM clients can also be run in a native Linux environment? I mean, is there any reason at all that you (or anyone) can think of for even trying Microsoft’s Virtual Machine?

    Just curious…

  9. JP

    1 & 2.You can install windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate in the Virtual Machine as long as it is a 32 bit OS. Virtual PC does not support 64 bit operating systems no matter if the host OS is 32 or 64 bits.

    3. If you install a 64 bits OS in another partition (or Ubuntu or whatever OS you want) in the same pc, you can also do so and not have any issues as long as you do it right.

  10. Don

    1. VMware does not require hardware virtulization
    2. On installing pro enterprise. Vmware work station will allow you to install a 32 base os on the host machine and 64 bit guest on the host machine provided the host machine is 64 bit
    3. I would however recommend the host os be 64 and the guest 32.
    4. Minimum installation requirements for any virtural guest are the same as for a physical server with the advantage that the storage can be dynamic. It only grows to the size required for the files installed. In VMware workstation this would be done in 2 gig increments

  11. Frank Duffey

    I have a question I am running Ubuntu 10.10 on a wubi install in Windows 7 IS there a way I can mlove this to the new virtual drive as a second os system and what about the MBR is the current dual boot stay as it is or is there a sway to convert my current install of Ubuntu as I have spent many hours getting it the way I want I do not use Windows 7 much at all.

  12. Sarah

    Can you use this to run software that needs xp? How much hard drive space would it eat up?

  13. Juan Pablo Alonzo

    You can use this to make windows xp machines and run software from them. This is going to be explained further.

    If you use Ubuntu on a wubi install, you cannot move it to work with virtual pc. Even then, if you move Ubuntu, you should need to change the boot records. There is a way Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 can work with virtual machines to boot natively from them, but this pc’s cannot be used with virtual pc inside another OS.

  14. Ann Onymous

    I seem to have hit a nerve since my last comment was removed. So I’ll try this again (maybe a little less “judgmental”?)…

    Is there any reason we should use Microsoft’s Virtual PC “VM” client program when there are, in my opinion (IMO) better choices out there? Why Microsoft’s?

    In my case, I really object to Microsoft almost requiring their XP Mode add-on (or whatever it is) to also be installed which still apparently requires an (expensive) Ultimate version of Windows as the host OS. I realize that XP Mode isn’t necessary and that there is a way to install/use just their Virtual PC program with a lesser version of Windows, but why even bother? Why bother when Microsoft doesn’t make this process very clear either? I really want to know what compelling reasons there are to use Microsoft’s Virtual PC over other (IMO “better”) VM clients like VBox or even VMWare Player.

    Will we be seeing other articles on Oracle’s VBox and/or VMWare’s Player which not only work with any version of Windows as a host OS but on other host OS’s?

  15. Duy

    I can’t see “Create virtual machine” in the Virtual Machines…help me!

  16. dan

    @ JP :
    Thanks for the answers.
    At the computer fair where I bought the computer, the guy said that if we install a 64-bit Win alongside a 32-bit Win, the two OSs residing on the same hard disk but in different partitions ( just as I now have Win XP and Ubuntu Maverick on two different partitions, on one of my computers, but they are both 32-bits), he said that there would be conflict between the OSs/configurations at startup and etc….so I was not sure if I should try installing a 64-bit on a different partition on the hard drive of this computer.
    By the way, JP, you say:
    “3. If you install a 64 bits OS in another partition (or Ubuntu or whatever OS you want) in the same pc, you can also do so and not have any issues as long as you do it right.”

    What does it mean when you say “as long as you do it right.” ? What details or workarounds do I need to pay attention to while installing it? Is is different from the normal installations that we do ( where the OS are both 32-bits or both 64-bits) ?
    For the record, I can, as far as I have experienced, install OSs pretty fairly well by myself. I install the new Ubuntu OSs every time each new version comes out.
    Thanks for you answers. I hope you will find some time to answer this doubt of mine too.

  17. alvinkhorfire

    Virtual PC does not support 64 bit operating systems no matter if the host OS is 32 or 64 bits.

    I do not know what is the exact reason of this fact. Given the prevalence of 64-bit OS nowadays, Microsoft should have designed Virtual PC to support 64-bit Guest OS, if the host OS is 64 bits. Since Oracle VirtualBox is capable of supporting 64-bit Guest OS, I just do not know why Virtual PC cannot do so. :(

    This is the main reason I prefer Oracle VirtualBox over Virtual PC. I need to virtualize 64-bit Guest OS totest its stability, since I am tinkering with the install.wim of the Guest OS.

  18. Cryptic

    Ok, now how would I run OS X through a virtual machine. I had done it once, but it was very slow and wasn’t worth using. I have since forgotten how I did it as well.

  19. RobCr

    I agree with Ann Onymous
    MS just do not know how to keep things simple.
    Which VM requires the least resources, and which VM is the simplest to use ?
    Thanks,
    Rob

  20. Stan Brown

    Caution: The download won’t work with Firefox 4. (If I recall correctly, it didn’t work with Firefox 3 either.) It appears Microsoft does some sort of browser sniffing, which of course is nothing new.

    When I opened your link in Firefox, I did not have the “Download Windows Virtual PC without Windows XP mode” text shown in your screen shot. The only choice was to download Virtual PC *with* XP mode, which I can’d because I have Win 7 Home Premium.

    When I opened your link in IE8, I *did* have the “Download Windows Virtual PC without Windows XP mode” link. I haven’t actually downloaded yet, because I’m waiting to see the answers of why this is better than Virtual Box or VMWare Player, both free alternatives. If here’s better support for legacy devices, that would be a big plus for me.

  21. patty-anne lea

    I have a new laptop. I have virtual machine installed and have a program that will only run on XP with no service pack 2. I found that the virtual drive was loaded was XP with service pack 3.
    Is it possible to uninstall service packs without corrupting the operating system ?
    Thanks patty

  22. RobCr

    patty-anne lea,
    Will it Install OK ?
    If you right click the shortcut to the program, and go to properties, there is a Compatibility Tab.
    Mine offers only up to Windows 2000
    Yours may offer more
    If not, you could try Win 2000

    Or go the non MS way, and install what you like into it.

  23. vgamesx1

    @RobCr
    really though?? (about the simple thing.) everything they make is dang simple, so simple I don’t even use half it. (like there uhh… Windows Live Movie Maker Beta/made it so simple that theres no good controls on it anymore.)
    There Virutal PC is so very simple that I don’t like to use it except for the free copy of XP.
    and then VMware is pretty much as simple but quicker, and get to fully customize it before you create it, and Vbox, well I haven’t played with it much but its mostly the same.

  24. RobCr

    vgamesx1,
    I am not sure whether you ‘come to bury me, or to praise me’ ?

  25. bluesburgh

    Hi.
    I was wondering where the best site would be for finding a collection of all the OS’s that Virtual pc 2007 can handle? I have SUSE, XP, Vista, and Windows 98, Im just looking for more, like Windows 3.11 and older os’s like that…..
    Thanks!

  26. Paultx

    I bought my PC empty, then bought and installed Windows 7 Pro on it – will this work for me? TIA.

  27. John Chorley

    For those who do not have Windows 7, you can use Virtual Box to do the same thing. In my opinion it is a lot better than Virtual PC. Virtual PC only supports Windows OS’s (as far as I am aware) where as Virtual Box will support anything …. even OSX… no joke.

  28. RobCr

    John,
    Would you say that Virtual Box is -
    - Light on resources
    - Easy to use

  29. Vince

    I used Microsoft Virtual PC for OS/2. It was quite a long time ago but it was better than Virtual Box at that time. Don’t know the state of the matters today. Has anyone tried OS/2 in Virtual Box recently?

  30. Lucky

    Thanks for the article. I had used Virtual Box in the past. While MS Virtual PC seemed a little daunting at first, looking back it’s really self explanatory. I really like the clean integration and being able to keep my screen resolution where I like it. I think I will use this over Virtual Box in the future.

  31. Juan Pablo Alonzo

    @dan:
    You can have two 64 bits OS installed in different partitions as long as you conigure the boot file. If you install two equal OS (both are Windows Enterprise 64 bits) the only resulting issue could be that the second installation replaces the first one in the boot file, but you can duplicate the entries and direct each one to the partition where it is installed.

  32. Juan Pablo Alonzo

    @Ann Onymus and RobCr:
    We did this tutorial because we try to experience with every technology available and there are people who would like to see how to create a VM using Microsoft´s VirtualPC. We also have on the line other articles using the other different technologies out there to get them all explored and shown.

  33. Juan Pablo Alonzo

    @Stan Brown:
    That´s right. Thank you very much for the headsup. To install VirtualPC without XP Mode, you need to use IE to download it.

    @Paultx:
    Yes, it could work on Wiondows 7 Pro. Although Microsoft only supports it on Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate, I have even used it on Windows Home Premium without issues.

  34. Don

    Without hardware assisted virtualization, the performance is so bad as to make it useless. VirtualBox won’t load without it and it appears that Vmware wants to see HAV also.

    The MS VPC works great on my i7-860 with HAV. But you are restricted to MS OS’s and a memory limit of 3,340Mb

  35. Tom

    I prefer VirtualBox but thanks for the tutorial anyway.

  36. jason

    Hii want to have vitual apple,would that be possible,im am currently using windoews 7 ultimate 32bit

  37. JP

    @jason you should be able to install it as long as you can get the operating system. although it will need to be a 32 bit version and I don’t know which version of OSX is 32 bits.

  38. obj.bhz

    hi there,
    i tried ms wpc in a Core 2 Duo E7500 with 4GB 800MHz RAM plus 8GB virtual RAM without ReadyBoost on Win 7 Pro 64bits
    for starters, the d’l won’t run unless you are running ie, no firefox, chrome or opera allowed
    setup was clean and easy as i was able to dedicate 2GB of RAM and a 500GB HD where i installed ubuntu 11.04 desktop i386, 64 bits would not even load
    performance is good but it could have a few enhancements as allowing windows resizing without slowdowns, i have had problems with internet setup despite the fact that it was working out of the box before i tried to change the setup
    all in all, as long as it is free it could be an alternative to host a web server (i have not tried it yet) to vmware/vbox

  39. Darko(x)

    Thank you
    good tutorial..

  40. Ashok

    this tutorial works fine , i noticed that it needs the hardware assisted accleration feature , which i was unable to do it , later writing my notes , i recalled an option “Enable secure virtual machine mode”
    , hence i passed it ! thanks HTG

  41. Nathan

    Awesome tutorial! Going to recommend to everyone.

  42. bins

    Can I make partitions in virtual HDD?

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