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.
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.