Over the last year I have been using VMWare to host multiple guest operating systems on my laptop. This has made me a much more efficient developer as I can have clean copies of multiple environment to build and test my applications. It also gives me a safe way to evaluate beta software without fear of hosing my host operating system.
Microsoft has recently released Virtual PC 2004, a product that is similar to VMWare. For grins I decided to give it a whirl. What I first noticed was that VPC is not supported by Microsoft on host operating systems other than Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP. However it ran for me without a problem under Windows Server 2003. I found the user interface to be more amateurish compared to VMWare, and the UI is less intuitive. For example to mount an ISO file you must drag and drop the ISO file onto the CD disc icon in the status bar of the Virtual PC window.
There were no surprises in setting up a new guest OS. However, it seems RAM is the only configuration item available during the setup of a new virtual machine. I did not see settings for controlling network access. VMWare definitely shines in this area. I found it interesting that formatting the new partition within the virtual hard was a slow process using VPC. VMWare can format the virtual partition in a snap. Installation of the new guest OS seemed slower under VPC than VMWare as well.
As for running the guest operating system I have not noticed any major differences between the two products aside from the better VMWare UI shell. After my 5 minute review of the Virtual PC I have to say I still prefer VMWare. VMWare appears more professional and is easier to use for someone like me. I will need more time with VPC before I decide if it is an appropriate replacement to VMWare for my needs. And since I don’t have the time it will be VMWare for me for a while.
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