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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Windows Virtual PC / XP Mode Saves the Day

I have been critical of poor performance in Windows Virtual PC (most recently, here).  I still can’t explain the performance problems I have seen, but Windows Virtual PC’s improved USB support saved the day.

I was helping my Dad with a piece of hardware that just doesn’t work with Windows 7.  The manufacturer’s instructions say that it will work if you turn of UAC, but it doesn’t.  I had just about given up, and then remembered that Virtual PC is supposed to have better USB support.  I really didn’t believe it would work, but had nothing to lose.  After much downloading, installing, a little rebooting, and more installing, I was able to attach this USB device to an XP Mode VM.  The corresponding software also launches correctly on the Windows 7 x64 desktop. 

It even performs well.  All cool.

The only annoying part of it is that I can’t figure out how to stop the running VM instance without opening the VM and then closing it.  The VM gets started automatically when running the XP Mode application, but there is no simple way to stop it.  I suppose that XP mode is designed for people who run it all the time, but really, no clean way to stop it?

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Windows Virtual PC is slow!

I am extremely annoyed with Windows Virtual PC.

It is markedly slower than Virtual PC 2007. And startup times are six to ten times worse.  Same host, same VHD.  Painfully slow.

I have witnessed this on three different host machines.  I’ve seen other complaints of this online, but all of the suggestions of help completely miss the point.

There are some threads that suggest that it is caused by aggressive CPU throttling.  In a comment on a post, Virtual PC guy suggested that installing SETI@Home might solve the problem.  Seriously?

Virtual PC 2007 didn’t suffer from this problem, so I’m not going to bother with that.  It would be great if I could find confirmation that either:

  • Microsoft decided that Windows Virtual PC needn’t support laptops.
  • There is a new bug or major flaw in Windows Virtual PC that is going to be fixed.

I have rolled back to Virtual PC 2007.  I shouldn’t really care, except that I prefer the integration in Windows Virtual PC.  I suppose I should move onto VMWare, but I really don’t want to hassle with this anymore.  It works well enough for now.

Microsoft, are you acknowledging the problem?  Perhaps you can blame it on the laptop vendors, but the customer experience is just terrible.

BTW: I recorded a video of starting a Windows 7 guest using Windows Virtual PC, but a 3 minute video of a crawling progress bar seemed intolerable.

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