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Ben Armstrong - Running Virtual PC and Virtual Machines

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What's running on Ben Armstrong's machine? Linux? Yes! BeOS? Yes! OS/2? Yes! Windows 95? Yes! Microsoft Bob? Yes! Free BSD? Yes! And about 600 other operating systems.

Come and meet the Virtual Machine folks (today you'll meet Ben, who's a program manager on the Virtual PC team, tomorrow you'll meet Tony Donno of the Virtual Server team).

Here Ben talks about and demos Virtual PC. After all, he's the "Virtual PC Guy" on Microsoft's employee blogs (visit his blogroll for links to the community sites he shows off).

Our favorite quote from the interview? "You can never have enough RAM."

Yes, he demos both Linux and Microsoft Bob for us.

Why is Virtual PC cool for developers? You'll see in the video, but Virtual PC lets you test your code on a large number of operating systems quickly and with little fuss (make a mistake, go back to a previous version and test again).

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  • You know, Microsoft is going to go out of business
    before anyone forgets about Bob... I myself would
    like to try it, it is VERY hard to get hold of (as he said).
     
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    We should put that in our recruiting materials then "if you take a job here you can play with Bob all you want." Smiley
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    Beer, Ben's home sick today, but I'll see if he can come and answer these questions.

    Yeah, obviously there's some apps that won't run well in Virtual PC. I doubt I'd be using Flight Simulator in one, for instance.

    Will Virtual PC change to rock with the new 3D-oriented applications and services like Avalon and video games? Not sure yet. Definitely today's version won't work well for many of those kinds of things.
  • rhmrhm
    Been using VMWare for years to test installation routines on a clean install. Just boot the VM, run the installer, test until you're happy, then quit and roll back and the machine is instantly back to clean again. Much faster than ghosting a new image onto a physical machine which is what we used to do. Plus you don't have to get up from your desk! Smiley

    Never tried VirtualPC, but I should imagine it's basically the same as VMWare?
  • While virtual machines don't have 'real' DMA resources - we do have emulated ones for all the usually subsystems (along with emulated IO devices).

    While we cannot do 3D graphics today we are able to run Windows XP and other modern operating systems quite well.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • ZippyVZippyV Fired Up
    So was MS Bob about a virtual house? I remember around '95 some video about a virtual house where you could walk to the desk and you could start the 'desk accessories' like Paint and such. Was it ever released? Or why not?
    I got a couple of other questions for this video:
    1. Is that a white toaster in the background?
    2. What's in the envelope? Tongue Out
    And know the final question:
    1. Why doesn't VPC support polymorphic x86 code?

    Edit: more questions:

    1. Is there a difference between i386, i486 and i586?

    Virtual PC Guy wrote:
    While we cannot do 3D graphics today we are able to run Windows XP and other modern operating systems quite well.
    And Sim City 4?

  • I'm glad you got an interview with Ben. His blog is one of my favorites. Will there be more interview segments?
  • To answer your questions:

    1) Yes - it is a toaster (cost me $9), which is actually a violation of Microsoft policy - however I got an exception because I am alergic to wheat (gluten - actually) and can't use communal toasters

    2) I believe that it was a contract that I needed to review - however I can't tell you any more than that Smiley

    3) It should do - we have code to detect and handle polymorphic x86 code (it is used more often than you might guess)

    4) Virtual PC 'virtualizes' the processor - so you will get whatever architecture you have on the physical computer (but we only support CPUs of the i686 family).

    And funny that you should mention Sim City 4 - but it does actually run fine inside of Virtual PC and I am planning to post to my blog about this on Wednesday.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • MinhMinh WOOH!  WOOH!
    Beer28 wrote:

    Something that relies on GL drivers from NVidia like Looking Glass Desktop that needs real 3d acceleration wouldn't be able to run right?
    He said the virtualized video card is the S3 Trio, so whatever video card you actually has, the VirtualPC machine thinks it has a S3 Trio. Not sure if S3 ships OpenGL drivers with it -- but if they did, then you should be able to run apps that make use of OGL.
  • Minh wrote:


    He said the virtualized video card is the S3 Trio


    I think you have that mixed up they emulating a S3 Trio, if it was virtualizing the video card it would be the same video card you had in your base machine.... Also I just want to say ben ROCKS!!!!! Great blog read it every day.
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    TimP: nope, that was our whole time together. I cut my rambling off at the end, though.

    Tomorrow you'll meet the Virtual Server side of the house.
  • Deactivated UserDeactivated User

    Comment removed at user's request.

  • W3bboW3bbo Work hard; increase production; prevent accidents, and be happy.
    Virtual PC Guy wrote:

    And funny that you should mention Sim City 4 - but it does actually run fine inside of Virtual PC and I am planning to post to my blog about this on Wednesday.


    Odd... Considering that you just said that VPC doesn't support 3D, and yet the SimCity4 terrain is in fact just a giant Direct3D-rendered mesh.

    So can I play Quake 3 on VPC or not? Wink
  • I've seen some documents that say that an x64 version of Virtual PC might be hard to pull off. Can you shed any light on those issues and/or what the schedule is to have an x64 version of Virtual PC?
  • rasxrasx Emperor of String.Empty
    Is a similar undo feature in Virtual Server 2005?
  • ZippyVZippyV Fired Up
    I can say one thing about undo-disks: Never enable it before installing an operating system.
  • W3bbo wrote:
    Virtual PC Guy wrote:
    And funny that you should mention Sim City 4 - but it does actually run fine inside of Virtual PC and I am planning to post to my blog about this on Wednesday.


    Odd... Considering that you just said that VPC doesn't support 3D, and yet the SimCity4 terrain is in fact just a giant Direct3D-rendered mesh.

    So can I play Quake 3 on VPC or not?


    Yeah - it threw me too - on the box SimCity 4 says that it needs a D3D 7 compatible card with 32mb of VRAM - yet if you install it inside of Virtual PC it runs just fine.

    You can't play Quake 3 inside of Virtual PC - but you can play Quake 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004 (as both have software renderers.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • Winston Pang wrote:

    Does Ben address the install time of OS's on the virtual PC? I find that installations in VPC's take much much longer.



    Yeah - this is an oft debated topic.  We know that we are the fastest for OS install, and this is largely because most of our performance tuning work has gone into actually using the OS once it is installed.  These happen to be two significantly different usage patterns - and we have not yet spent significant time optimizing the install path - simply because it is something that users do a lot less often than actually 'using' the operating system.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • rasx wrote:
    Is a similar undo feature in Virtual Server 2005?


    Yes.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • eddwoeddwo Wheres my head at?
    Another very interesting video.

    Perhaps you could discuss what effects Virtual Machine Additions have on the virtual PC. Is it purely for better integration with the host, or does it allow some optimisations by making the virtual machine aware that it is running virtualised and letting it skip or offload some operations?

    In some ways Virtual PC for Mac seems to be ahead of the Windows version. It supports USB devices and tighter desktop integration with printing etc. Are the Mac and Windows versions developed by the same team? Will we see the USB support coming to the Windows version soon?

    As I understand it, it should be easier to virtualise the graphics card when running the virtual machine on Longhorn, since longhorn has the new display driver model that lets several applications share the GPU resources. Will this in fact make the job any easier?

    I wondered if the display performance would be better if you connected to a virtual machine using remote desktop. As I understand it, remote desktop uses a virtual display driver and batches up GDI operations to pass through to the remote machine. Instead of emulating the graphics card you could just pass the drawing operations through to the real graphics card on the host system. Obviously the would only be of any use when the virtual pc was one that supports Remote desktop, so it wouldn't work for Beos, OS2 etc, but it might make 2000 server and XP Pro a bit faster.

    Forgive me if I'm totally off track here.
  • I actually like VPC better than VMWare, but still am forced to use VMWare since VPC doesn't handle USB devices (non-kb, mouse) at all.  It's hard to test driver installs and interaction with USB devices in a VM that doesn't support USB. 
  • Tom ServoTom Servo W-hat?
    What operating system is running on the desktop on the right?
  • gizmo_gizmo_ By 'eck thats some quality kernel work
    Maybe longhorn, but it has a very interesting wallpaper Smiley (yes my eyes are that good to see the grid pattern Tongue Out) He also mentions showing his "non secret" desktop *hint hint*
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    Yeah, it was Longhorn.
  • gizmo_gizmo_ By 'eck thats some quality kernel work
    Cool, i like that wallpaper (from what i could see) looking forward to WinHEC 05 to see some more aero glass Wink
  • rhmrhm
    Any chance of keeping the camera on the screen when someone's giving a demo?!
  • scobleizerscobleizer I'm the video guy
    RHM: I'll try to make sure you never miss anything important. But I point my camera to wherever I think the action is. If someone is talking to me, I think that's more interesting than staring at a screen when nothing is happening. It's what makes our videos different from what happens on, say, MSDN Webcasts.
  • Haha, I caught that Longhorn screen as soon as the video started.  I wonder if he's running the build we'll get in two weeks at WinHEC Wink
  • NeoTOMNeoTOM OMG WTF REDESIGN
    Is that the Large Print Edition of XP Pro over there?

    I see you use Royale off Tablet PC too... Wink
  • How does Vm effect running speed, what about about a single box with muliple CPUs( one at the core of each virtual box) to add real kick to processing? thought, does the utilization of VMs being built off old technology mimicing old hardware etc. affect speed through compatibility issues even though you are not limited except to existing box parameters?Kind of like a shotgun approach it will run Dos, Windows 3.1 Linux etc. versus a VM mimicing exactly and only what is needed to run the application, can that be done? at the kernel level or through manually establishing a box for each additional OS/App run  

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