There's a fundamental difference between Microsoft Virtual PC and other virtualization platforms like VirtualBox, VMware etc. Virtual PC exists for and is made for to give Windows 7 users a possibility to use older legacy Windows apps which do not run on Seven, whereas other virtualization platforms are intended to run almost all existing OS's. In other words, Virtual PC can only run Windows XP, Vista and Seven guests with full integration. It is possible to install older Windows versions, even Linux in Virtual PC (here
Linux Mint on VPC), but it is very unpractical because of missing integration components.
Vista is, or rather was, not very widely used in corporate environments, so main focus in creating the current Virtual PC was to create a platform to run XP apps. As 64-bit XP was more a curiosity than widely used OS, it was seen as unimportant to add an option to run 64-bit OS's on VPC. Check the first answer here
The main purpose of VPC & XP Mode is to run older legacy Windows apps, and that it is doing well enough.
So, what if I want to run 64-bit guest OS, or Linux? My recommendation is to use VirtualBox
, although quite a many of our members and pros alike use and recommend VMware
. VirtualBox is free, VMware have both a free and a commercial versions. Both VMware and VirtualBox integration components support almost every Linux and Unix distro, as well as older Windows versions. VirtualBox integration supports Windows 2000 and later, VMware Windows 95 and later.
In a nutshell:
- Microsoft Virtual PC does not support 64-bit guest operating systems
- Microsoft Virtual PC Integration Components can be installed only on Windows XP, Vista and Seven guests
- Virtual Applications (launch guest app from host Start Menu) is only supported on XP Service Pack 3, Vista Enterprise & Ultimate and Seven Enterprise & Ultimate guests
- Microsoft Virtual PC can be installed on all editions of Seven except Starter
- Windows XP Mode can be installed on Virtual PC running on Seven Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise editions