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MS Virtual PC (and Virtual Server) Now Free

Note: This blog post is from 2006. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Many may know that MS had released Virtual Server for free, but this week they also released Virtual PC (VPC) for free. Wow. For those who don't know about virtualization, let me share a little more, including other alternatives.

First, for more on the release of VPC as free, see:


About Virtualization

With virtualization you can run one "guest" OS (or Virtual Machine/VM) inside another "host" (your regular machine). That could be Linux inside Windows, or vice-versa. Or you could run Windows 2000 inside XP, etc.

Or you may choose simply to run multiple instances of a given OS on one box, perhaps using one guest to isolate changes to protect your main host. It's such a powerful solution for testing, development, and more.

Licensing the OS within the VM

To be clear: you still need to have licenses for whatever OS's you want to run in the VM/guest. VPC and other tools don't "come with a license" for any OS. You need to install one in your guest and you must own it.

I will note, however, that MS has revamped its licensing to recognize the use of OS's you DO own on virtual machines. I'll leave you to sort through the details to determine how it fits your situation:


Learning More about VM Products

Finally, to get VPC, visit:


And for the server edition, see:


FWIW, its major competitor (on Windows systems), VMWare, had also long ago released their server edition for free:


The also released a free "virtual player". For more, see:


For mac users, you probably already know that Parallels Desktop, while not free, is only $50.

Let the virtual reality begin. :-)

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What I'd like to know... is... I'm switching from an XP to a Vista based laptop today, and am looking for an "easy" way to transfer files, as the cd on my old laptop doesn't work. Will the MS virtual machine be of any help to me?
# Posted By AZkk | 6/2/09 5:20 PM
Well, yes and no. First, you'd need somewhere to put the VM, and that place would be where you could just as readily put a zip or backup of the files you want to move. And for that, since your CD doesn't work, do you have a USB port? If so, you could either use a UDB stick/key (they range from a couple to several gigs), or a USB external hard drive (even hundreds of gig can be less than a hundred bucks).

Second, I wonder if maybe what you mean to ask was whether you could create a VM from your current machine, and then use that on the new machine. Yes, you could, and while it would indeed let you copy the files from the VM to the host--which solves your main point, subject to the storage point above--it would at least offer an important benefit over a simple zip/backup of your files: the VM would faithfully replicate your old machine, which would allow you to re-execute programs within the VM without needing to re-install them in the host, which might have benefit. I discussed that in this blog entry:


Then again, both these entries from from a couple of years ago. Some readers here may have more up to date info to share on any of these fronts.

And someone may want to point out that if these are two separate laptops you're referring to, there are other old-school approaches: if they're both network-enabled, you could copy the files over a local network, or over the network using a file sharing service (or FTP, Remote Desktop, etc.). You could also connect the files using USB (or going really old school, parallel or serial cables).

Indeed, there are packaged solutions specifically designed to do this sort of PC-to-PC file transfer for upgrade from XP to Vista. There are some advantages to targetted solutions, as some are smart about doing more than just copying files but also helping manage getting things from the location of user account files on the old machine to the new user account directories on the new machine.

Hope that's helpful to you or some other readers.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 6/2/09 6:08 PM
Thanks guys for your help...I came across another solution I should have thought of earlier. I found a great online backup service called iDrive which automatically backs up docs & desktop, up to 2 gigs, which is more than enough for me, and never deletes the files from their end.

So I've saved all my docs & things online and now I'm gonna have to move over to the new computer, which will be much simpler now.

Appreciate your help & input!
# Posted By AZkk | 6/2/09 7:13 PM
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