Virtually impressed with Microsoft

Virtual PC

I usually spend my weekends writing a few drafts for articles that I'm going to post for CMS Report. The idea is that I'm not competing with the hectic pace I usually find myself in during the weekdays.  Well, I found myself distracted from the usual writing endeavor for two reasons: 1) Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007 and 2) the snow finally melting leaving a nice warm weekend to be outside.  Needless to say, not much time was spent with the computer.  However, let's talk about Microsoft and something they finally did right.

A focus lately has been on the fact that you can run Windows inside of an Apple Mac through virtualization.  What the commercials don't talk about is that you can also run the same type of software, such as Parallels, to also run the Linux OS inside your Mac.  Since Microsoft Windows and Linux are the primary operating systems I use at work, the ability to run the two operating systems together is of interest to me.  In fact that interest is so great that for the first time in a decade I've been considering to buy a Mac at home.

During the past five years I've been dual-booting between Windows and Linux on my PCs both at home and work.  However, there are inconveniences with dual-booting due to the the constant need to reboot your machine to get to the other operating system.  This better method is virtualization and something Apple has been promoting the past year or so to lure in Windows users to their computers.  Now Microsoft's free Virtual PC has arrived and I think it is about to change my world.

I have only had a chance to try out Virtual PC for a couple days, but so far I've been able to run Fedora Core 5, Fedora Core 6, CentOS, and even an old version of Windows 98 inside my Windows XP desktop.   While I've found that extra memory (2 GB RAM) and processing power (dual-core 64 bit) helps, I've been able to run the virtual machines on a PC with as little as 512 Meg of RAM on an old Pentium IV system.  This is truly amazing free software (but not open sourced), software that every Linux user should have on their Windows PC.   From a system administrator's life just got a little easier.

If you're an Apple-only user you're likely not going to really consider switching to Microsoft Windows because of Virtual PC.  However, if you are a Windows user I bet Virtual PC will make you consider twice about leaving Windows behind for the Apple Mac.  I know Virtual PC has put thoughts about switching over to the Apple Mac at home on the back burner once again.  If you use Windows for your desktop and are a Linux user, I encourage you to give Virtual PC 2007 a try.