Starting in February, we will be closing in on the first year anniversary of Virtual PC 2007. Almost a year ago, following the consumer release of Windows Vista, Microsoft made available its virtualization offering, engineered with the latest Windows client in mind. Essentially, Virtual PC 2007 is available as a free download that will permit the user to emulate the hardware of a physical machine, in order to run guest operating systems on top of the host platform. Due to the limitations that come with the Vista licensing agreements, Virtual PC 2007 theoretically integrates only with the Business, Enterprise and ultimate SKUs of the operating system.
When it comes down to Vista, users also have to be careful about how they run Virtual PC 2007. As Vista makes all users, even administrators, run with standard user privileges, and as Virtual PC 2007 is tailored on the platform, the product will run with no issues. But, there are a few examples of functionality that you will be missing out in the context of standard user privileges. Ben Armstrong, Program Manager on the Core Virtualization team at Microsoft, gave a total of four illustrative examples of why users should run Virtual PC 2007 as administrator in Vista.
"In order to create ICMP packets (as opposed to standard TCP/IP packets) that appear to originate from the virtual machine when using shared networking - we need to access Windows APIs that are restricted to only being accessed by administrators. (...) Linked virtual hard disks require us to open a handle to the raw physical disk object (and bypass the Windows file system). As this mechanism could also be used to bypass file system security it is restricted to administrative processes only", Armstrong stated.
Right-clicking the icon for Virtual PC 2007 and selecting Run as Administrator will permit the user to ping computers from a virtual machine and to manage linked virtual hard disks, but also to access copy protected media and to configure the product's security options.
"Now remember that under Windows Vista Virtual PC will be running as a non-administrative process even if you are using an administrative account. To get these features to work under Vista you need to right click on the Virtual PC icon in the start menu and select 'Run as administrator' (with the exception of the Virtual PC security options where we will prompt you to give administrative approval if you are not running as administrator)", Armstrong added.