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Windows 7: Running Virtual PC Apps from Windows 7 Host Machine

07 Jan 2014   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate and Ubuntu 9.04
Running Virtual PC Apps from Windows 7 Host Machine

Hey guys,

My mom is currently running an old computer which originally had Windows XP, and we did a "double upgrade" to the 32-bit version of Vista, then to Windows 7 Professional.

The computer has worked fine for a few years, but it's starting to get pretty sluggish just due to the sheer amount of clutter (she has lots of useless files and things installed)... and I had suggested an upgrade to her. The current box only has 4GB of RAM and it's an old Pentium dual core, really pretty crappy by today's standards.

I would love to have her get a new quad-core and either 8 or 16GB of RAM, and move her up to the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Even with 4, you can't use all the RAM on x86, only about 3GB of it.

The problem is that she still plays some old games from the Windows 3.1 era that are 16 bit (no kidding!)

I mentioned that she'd lose the ability to run these and she said she needed those
I'd really hate to stay on 32-bit and not even use 4GB of RAM just because of a couple old games which she maybe plays once a week. She plays a lot of newer games (nothing super heavy, but enough that she could benefit from a nice dedicated GPU)

So I was testing out some possible solutions on a spare machine of mine. It's not super powerful, but certainly adequate - it's a 2.24GHz quad core CPU with 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a dedicated NVIDIA GPU.

My first thought was to use Windows XP Mode, as I remembered that it has the ability to create shortcuts to specific programs inside the VM and run them from the host (Windows 7) machine. I installed Virtual PC and XP Mode and ran the old 16-bit installers, created my shortcuts, and everything looked alright.

However, some of the games that have fast action were really laggy and almost unplayable. Stuff like Tut's Tomb and some of those older card games were fine, just because they're turn-based.

So I have a couple questions.

1: Is it possible to create similar shortcuts using earlier versions of Windows? Considering these programs were published in 1991, before Windows 95 even came out, I could easily run a VM of Windows 95 or even 98, and it would be a lot LOT "lighter" than XP. However, I see here that you need XP SP3 or higher. Is there any way to achieve a similar effect on an older version of Windows? Even Windows 2000?

2: Are there any other visualization engines (such as VMWare (my preferred VM host) or VirtualBox) that can do this? Virtual PC isn't exactly the fastest thing, and I know for a fact that VMWare can run these applications at full speed inside an XP VM... the only question is if I can make shortcuts so that we don't need to boot up an entire VM just to play one game in windowed mode.

Has anyone thought of any other way to run 16-bit programs on 64-bit Windows? I'm assuming at the end of the day it will require visualization since the 16-bit emulation elements just aren't present anymore, and you can't just copy the 16-bit emulation components and run them on WoW64.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2014   #2

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

The problem with VirtualPC in this setting is that it doesn't support the advanced features of your video system needed for gaming. It was never really designed for gaming. VirtualBox and VMWare handles this better, but you looses the integration features of XP Mode.

As for running 16 bit software in a 64 bit OS, you seem to have answered your own question. The methods used in a 32 bit OS to run 16 bit software are not compatible with a CPU in 64 bit mode, needed for a 64 bit OS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2014   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate and Ubuntu 9.04

Well, I don't know that I'd call them "advanced features" - after all, these games were meant to work on Windows 3.1, and they ran flawlessly on my Windows 95 PC with a Pentium 1 at 166MHz :)

But yes, I definitely prefer VMWare. Is there any way to do a similar integration feature with it? I can't really figure that out via some quick searching.
My System SpecsSystem Spec


 Running Virtual PC Apps from Windows 7 Host Machine

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