January 05, 2004, 12:00 AM — If you have every played with VMWare, you are going to enjoy Microsoft
Virtual PC 2004.
After Microsoft acquired Connectix in early 2003, they began to improve
and rebrand their virtual machine technology. If you are familiar with
VMWare, then you are familiar with the virtual machine environment. If
not, then you should probably brush up on this technology because it's
going to become more prominent over the next couple of years as
companies look for ways to consolidate servers within their data centers
and look for smooth ways to upgrade to the latest technology without
completely ridding itself of the legacy technology.
In its most basic sense, virtual machine technology utilized by
Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 is the virtualization (or encapsulation) of an
entire operating system environment such that you can have multiple
"workstations" running at the same time on a single hardware platform
running a single host operating system. For example, Virtual PC 2004,
you could have a host workstation on a Pentium IV 2.0Ghz machine with
2GB of RAM running Windows XP Professional, and then build one or more
Virtual PCs running Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 95 and Windows
Me. Each of the Virtual PCs would look, feel, and act just like a
unique machine on the network, but they are all sharing the same
You may ask why you would want to do something like this, especially
since Microsoft is discontinuing support on some of the older operating
systems, and since you would rather have the latest and greatest
operating system anyway. Well, the answer is simple: there are still
needs within most organizations for many of these legacy operating
systems due to old software that requires these older systems, and
cannot be updated to run on the newer systems.
Additionally, Virtual PC 2004 makes for an exceptional software
development environment. You can have your host machine running Windows
XP Professional, and build multiple Windows XP Professional virtual
machines so that you can test a new application you are developing.
This allows you to do your testing in a more cost effective manner
(because you do not have to purchase the additional PCs to do the
testing), plus you have the ability to quickly recreate a virtual PC
session in the event that you need to start fresh.
You can find out more about Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 at
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/virtualpc/. Join me next week when I
discuss the upcoming release of Microsoft Virtual Server.