In 2004 Microsoft released Virtual PC to the public as a free download. It allowed users the ability to run separate Windows session in a window.
The Virtual PC 2004 release could run DOS and up easily. We tried a Windows 95 disk as well as a Windows 98 SE disk and we could run them both simultaneously.
Windows 98 SE is the best of the old versions of Windows and its strong DOS capacity assures excellent capability.
Windows 98 SE can use a maximum of 1024 MB of RAM which is is a spectacular amount of memory given the machines in use in the late 1990s. By comparison, Windows 95 can use a maximum of 512 MB of RAM. Windows XP x86 can use up to 4 GB with PAE.
- CPU x86 pass-through
- 128 GB dynamically expanding disk
- S3 Trio 32/64 PCI graphics
- up to 4 GB RAM using PAE
- CD/DVD physical or mounted
Virtual PC can allow a virtual machine to use the CD/DVD hardware drive or it can use a mounted ISO image. The use of a folder with installers makes it very convenient.
- Windows XP
- x64 CPU support AMD-V or Intel VT-x
- 8 GB RAM or more
- 2 TB hard disk or more
Microsoft released a patch so that those with an older CPU lacking hardware support could still use Virtual XP mode that is offered to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate users.
Remember virtual PC adds more workload. So given an XP virtual machine setup for 2 GB, that would require an additional 2 GB over the main operating requirements.
Microsoft licenses a virtual machine like a standard desktop, a separate license is needed for each VM.
We have licenses for all versions of Windows so we can test games for compatibility. The virtual machine is easy to replace in case of a software problem. XP is the biggest nuisance, we have enterprise licenses for Vista and up so we can literally just make copies of an existing VHD for a fresh install equivalent.
For games, the existing GPU is not available. This means for games the only solution is to use partitions.
For games, Windows 98 SE is best for DOS titles that use only the CPU for graphics. The smash hit, Doom is a DOS game which shows the level of sophistication games already had achieved with 640 KB of memory.
NVIDIA and AMD are both looking at the situation and they are designed hardware to be used in the data center as well as in a gaming rig. Supporting a virtual machine would be helpful.
VIRTUAL PC 2007
In 2007 Microsoft released Virtual PC 2007 which provided for updated integration components. Our Windows 95 VM does not work with Virtual PC 2007 as booting it up leads to an IOS crash.
Windows 98 SE however continues to work fine so we are still able to play classic games with it.
WINDOWS 7 VIRTUAL PC
A new version of Virtual PC was developed for Windows 7 Pro and up and Microsoft provides a free virtual machine with Windows XP included at no extra cost.
We tested the Windows 95 and Windows 98 SE virtual machines and while they started the device manager could not find device drivers for some new hardware added to the virtual machine.
WINDOWS 8 HYPER-V
Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft has now began shipping Hyper-V which came from servers.