Glass in a VM? Sort of...

One of the things that a lot of people have asked us about, both inside and outside of Microsoft, is whether or not we're going to support Glass running in a VM.  So here's the scoop:  the answer is 'sort of'.

Here's how it breaks down:

Virtual PC and Virtual Server both emulate the same graphics adapter - an S3 Trio32/64 which is (if I'm not mistaken) 1996-era hardware.  Back in good ol' 96, there wasn't a great deal of processing power built into graphics adapters; certainly not as much as there is now.  As such, any card of that era - including the card that we emulate - will not be able to render any of the Glass effects.  Also, there are no plans to modify Virtual PC or Virtual Server to emulate a different graphics adapter.  In short, the S3 is where it's at, as long as "it" doesn't refer to anything graphically spectacular.

But fear not.

There's an interesting little trick that you can perform to get Glass in a VM.  Sort of.  One of the coolest features of Vista that has been introduced in the February CTP is Desktop Composition Remoting (or Avalon Remoting).  Generally speaking, this will allow some of the uber-cool Desktop Compositing effects to be rendered over Remote Desktop.  And yes, cats and kittens, this includes Glass.

To get it working, you'll need

  • Windows Vista installed on the machine you're remoting into (the VM)
  • Windows Vista installed on the machine you're remoting from (the host, for example)
  • The Vista build on both machines must be the same to have any reasonable expectation of this working correctly.
  • The machine you're remoting from must have a graphics adapter that is capable of, and IS CURRENTLY running Glass.  If it can't support Glass, you're out of luck.
  • Network connectivity between the two computers.

On the VM, enable Remote Desktop (Remember to set the port exception in the firewall...)
From the Host, launch the Remote Desktop Client and enter the name or IP address of the VM.  If you'd like to adjust the window size, color depth, or experience level, go ahead.
Click Connect, and log in. 

The Remote Desktop session will launch, and the VM's desktop will be drawn with the DWM effects.

So, strictly speaking, no - Glass does not work in a VM, but it's possible to make it look like it does with a little bit of pixie dust from Remote Desktop team.