Vista, Visual studio 2003, Virtual PC 2007 (and the right hardware)

I made the jump and started using Vista on my main machine. The main concern was Visual Studio 2003 which is not supported by the brand new OS. Upgrading all running projects to VS 2005 is not an option so I needed a good alternative. In comes Virtual PC. I have long running and very pleasant experiences using that for keeping a Delphi environment alive. It is quite a hassle to install Delphi (5 or 6) and the installation often interferes with other software. To isolate all problems I have a virtual Delphi machine which I can move around from physical machine to physical machine. Works like a snap and a could be good way to tackle VS 2003.

A Virtual PC is known to be not as fast as a “real” one. When running a beast like VS 2003 that can become cumbersome. In comes Virtual PC 2007, available as beta. Virtualization is making great progress. New hardware, like the new Intel duo-core processor, has features to support virtualization and Virtual PC 2007 uses this by default. The result is a Virtual XP, running inside Vista, which runs VS 2003 and it is really fast and snappy.

A pleasure to work with.

Virtual network

Hooking the virtual machine in the network deserves some attention. VPC offers a lot of possibilities. A virtual PC can have up to 4 virtual network adapters. One option is to directly link one to a physical adapter on the host machine. Doing this lead in my case to strange behavior of both host and guest. I used to work that way in VPC 2004 and it always worked fine there. What always works fine is using shared networking. The VPC console has a DHCP server built in which serves all Virtual machines it is running. This way you can host a complete virtual network.

Smart device emulator
The smart device emulator of VS 2003 does not work inside a virtual machine. An attempt to start it displays one of the best error messages I’ve seen in years.


On Channel9 there is a nice thread on this.

Screen real estate

I am a wide screen addict. One of nice new things in Vista is that the remote desktop client now supports a full-sized 1920*1200 screen. Alas, VPC still stops at 1600*1200. But resizing and switching from full screen to a PC in a window works so much better than in the former version.


Virtual PC 2007 provides an excellent solution to use Visual Studio 2003 under Vista. The performance is excellent and as an extra bonus I win in ease of administration. VS 2003 and 2005 can coexist on one PC but I have met tools (an SDK which targeted a Whidbey beta) which couldn’t distinguish the two and messed things up. Now I have just one virtual hard disk file to take care of, it contains a clean XP with just VS 2003. All I need to maintain my .net 1.1 apps.

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  • hfrmobile

    Installing Vista and using XP in Virtual PC …

    THANK YOU M$ …..

  • jonathan Ataisi

    i need to access my web application through another system and my vista would not connect to my windows xp running on Virtual PC 2007 except i connect through with another computer using a phisical LAN,

  • pvanooijen

    Thanks for sharing Neil. Freedom of choice :)

  • Neil McQuillan

    I came across this Blog whilst trying to get VS2003 running on Vista. I managed to get VS2003 working on Vista for .Net 1.1 website debugging against IIS7. I’ve put together a few notes on this which reference other Blogs and have some changes I had to make to the IIS config which I didn’t find referenced anywhere else

    Hope this helps anyone who doesn’t want to go down the Virtual PC route.

  • pvanooijen

    I’m not sure wheteher you can run 1 64 bit virtual machine on a 32 bit platform.

    When it comes to hardware drivers Virtual PC is no option as most hardware is virtualized and thus has drivers differing quite a lot from “the real thing”.

    The virtual PC website has had quite an update, as Virt PC is RTM now. Take a look there.

  • Pong

    I was looking for Visual PC’s software for using with an application that need to use but do not imprement on 64bit yet.

  • Davin Mickelson

    My biggest gripe with Vista is not with Microsoft but rather the 3rd party tools – specifically with scanners and digital cameras. If you are considering making the jump from Windows XP to Vista, make sure your scanner or camera manufacturer has released drivers for Windows Vista. Drivers created for Windows XP are incompatible with Vista. Windows ME/2000/XP use WIA (Windows Image Acquisition) 1.0 while Vista uses WIA 2.0, which is not reverse compatible with 1.0. As a developer, what will I do for getting images from my Canon PowerShot G2? Well, I could just use another computer that still has Windows XP on it (Boring!). Instead, I’ve successfully submitted a request to the Canon SDKs written in C++ and will write a image fetching program myself on Vista with VS 2005.