I’ve recently been chatting with David Overton, who recently wrote an article for the Windows Vista magazine, around virtualising stuff on Windows Vista using technologies like Virtual PC 2007 SP1 or Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.  The reason for this post?  I’m going to clarify what installs, what runs, what doesn’t, and what is supported.

So, from the top:

Windows Vista Home Basic / Home Premium:

Product Installs? Runs? Supported?
Virtual PC 2007 SP1 Yes Yes No
Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 No No No

Capture

So, as you can see from the image, I’m running Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium, and I’ve installed Virtual PC 2007 SP1.  When I try to install it for the first time, I get a message saying that I’m trying to install VPC 2007 on an OS that isn’t supported.  I can continue with the installation, and as you can see, in my VPC, I’m just wrapping up an installation of Vista SP1 inside the VM.  So far, so good, in terms of my usage.  If it all goes belly-up though, I’m not going to be able to call MS for support but it is running fine.

When I tried to install Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 on Vista Home Premium, I get an ‘unsupported’ error, but I’m not allowed to continue this time, unlike with Virtual PC.  Also, I suspect that even if it did allow me to continue, it wouldn’t work correctly anyway, as the Home versions don’t support ‘Windows Authentication” as part of the IIS Web Server bits needed for Virtual Server, so I’m guessing it wouldn’t work.

Windows Vista Business / Enterprise / Ultimate:

Product Installs? Runs? Supported?
Virtual PC 2007 SP1 Yes Yes Yes
Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Yes Yes Yes (non-production)

So, 2 key differences here, when using the more ‘business/fully’ featured versions of Vista.  Firstly, Virtual PC 2007 SP1 is supported on the platforms, so you would be able to call MS for support on those ones.  Secondly, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 actually installs this time, plus the OS has the ‘Windows Authentication’ settings in IIS too.  There is a more recent update for Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 to allow support for Vista SP1 as both a host, and a guest OS.  You can grab that here.

There are also a number of guides to installing Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 on Vista.  Here’s one I just found.