Windows 7 continues to disappoint

All I wanted to do was load up my virtual machines from Virtual PC 2007 into Virtual PC for Windows 7. No my friends, it’s not that simple.

What used to be a simple install of VPC additions to get copy/paste and other functionality to work is now multiple steps and has to be done for each VM you decide to work with. Maybe I wouldn’t have to do this if I built the images from scratch, but I don’t see a reason not to use my existing VMs. And no , I can’t just use the XP mode, I need a custom built VM. As stupid as it sounds I need IE6.

So here’s my latest frustration with Windows 7 and trying to get something simple to work.

Even though VPC 2007 doesn’t need it, Windows 7 requires hardware virtualization. That was annoying since you have to download a separate tool to get Windows to tell you it needs to be turned on. Clearly putting it into the actual installer escaped their minds. This kind of stupidity is a reason not to upgrade to Win7.

But moving on…

We had a slew of problems getting our old VMs to load correctly under Win7. We kept getting errors that Win7 couldn’t write to the disk even though we could copy files into all the directories we listed in the UI. This happened on two machines with identical hardware. On a third machine (mine) we didn’t run into that problem. That issue still exists, we just moved forward using different hardware.

The VMs actually loaded correctly on my machine and surprisingly started without incident. I thought we were in the clear. I was so terribly mistaken. Starting them is one thing, using them is another.

You need to install the new Virtual PC Integration Features for Windows 7. That’s no problem, I expected that. But it’s not quite that simple.

Here’s what I ended up doing…

Upgrade the Integration Features and reboot

The next time the machine comes up, it asks to install them again (did I miss an option somewhere?)

After the 2nd install don’t reboot, there is a little dialog box saying you need to go to website to download yet more components. (Maybe I missed it the first time, but I’ve since done it again and haven’t seen it at the end of the first install).

Download this RDP feature and reboot again.

Funny thing, after doing all this you don’t actually have the full functionality of Win7 VPC. Nothing is enabled yet. I find this all very annoying and very much the reverse of VPC 2007.

You have to enable the Integration Features and that means you have to be using a machine which has a username and password. This isn’t how I set up my machine since it’s a test box. I don’t want to have to mess with password in this environment. So you have to add a password for your sandbox environment and then you can actually use the copy and paste functions. Good Lord.

Finally, make sure you actually save the VM with these new settings in place or else you’ll have to do it all over again (which happened to me). None of this is tied to VPC, it’s all a part of the VM itself.

I’m sorry, but this is a hell of a lot of work for something that used to work without issue in the previous Virtual PC version. For VPC 2007 it was just install the extensions and everything worked. You could resize the window, copy and paste, and move between the host and guest machine. Now, there’s just too many damn hoops. Windows 7 Virtual PC is NOT better than the previous version.

So you could go through all that mess

OR

You could follow the steps in this article (make sure to read the comments for some clarifications on what to remove) to get rid of Win 7 VPC and install VPC 2007 onto Windows 7.

http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2009/08/19/running-virtual-pc-2007-on-windows-7.aspx

I suppose the best course of action is to make a copy of the VHD file before tinkering with it, since I am damn sure once you save it with these changes there is no way in hell it will open in VPC 2007 again.

This is a whole lot of bullshit to get some USB support.

And we only have this working on one machine, two out of the three machines can’t load the previous VHD files. 66% failure rate, nice.

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