Create a virtual machine and install a guest operating system

Applies To: Windows 7

A guest operating system runs in a virtual machine. If you do not want to use Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 (SP3) as the guest operating system, you can create a virtual machine. You will use a wizard to create the virtual machine and customize it by specifying details such as the name and the amount of memory to assign to it. Before you create the virtual machine, consider the following questions:

  • How much memory will you allocate to the virtual machine? Be sure to allocate enough to run the guest operating system and all applications that you want to run on the virtual machine at the same time.

  • Where do you want to store the virtual machine and what do you want to name it? For example, you might want to use a name that identifies the guest operating system, or describes how you want to use it. You can use as many as 80 characters for the name.

  • What type of virtual hard disk do you want to use and where do you want to store it? For more information, see About virtual hard disks.

After you create the virtual machine, you can modify it as needed. For more information, see Configuring a virtual machine.


For information about an easy way to set up a virtual instance of Windows XP SP3, see Configuring and using Windows XP Mode. For information about the operating systems supported for use as guest operating systems, see the Windows Virtual PC system requirements (

To create a virtual machine

  1. Open the Virtual Machines folder. From the Start menu, click Windows Virtual PC. If the menu item is not visible, click All Programs, click the Windows Virtual PC folder, and then click Windows Virtual PC.

  2. The Virtual Machines folder opens in Windows Explorer. From the menu bar, click Create virtual machine.


The Virtual Machines folder provides details about all the virtual machines created by the current user, as well as access to the tools for creating and modifying virtual machines and virtual hard disks.

  1. The Create a Virtual Machine Wizard opens. Proceed through the pages of the wizard, choosing the options that are appropriate for the guest operating system.

  2. After the wizard finishes, the virtual machine appears in the file list in the Virtual Machine folder.

After you create the virtual machine, you can install the guest operating system. The procedure varies slightly depending on the type of installation media you plan to use, such as physical CDs and DVDs, .iso files, and network-based installation servers. The following procedures describe how to use each type.

To use a CD, DVD, or .iso file to install a guest operating system

  1. To use a CD or DVD, insert it into the drive and then skip to the next step. To use an .iso file, do the following:

    1. Right-click the virtual machine in the file list, and then click Settings.

    2. In the left pane, click DVD Drive. In the right pane, choose Open an ISO image. Click OK.

  2. Start the virtual machine. In the file list, select the virtual machine and click Open. Windows Virtual PC opens and displays the video output of the virtual machine.

  3. The virtual machine searches for bootable media. Setup begins after bootable media is found.

  4. After the installation is complete, install the Integration Components package. From the Tools menu of the virtual machine window, click Install Integration Components.

To use a network-based installation server to install a guest operating system

  1. Start the virtual machine. In the file list, select the virtual machine and click Open. Windows Virtual PC opens and displays the video output of the virtual machine.

  2. The virtual machine automatically starts the PXE boot agent and attempts to contact the remote installation server. Watch the screen for instructions. When prompted, press F12.


If the remote installation server does not respond, you will receive the message “Reboot and Select proper Boot device.” Check the virtual machine settings to make sure the network adapter is connected to an external (physical) network. If it is, check with the administrator of your network for instructions about using a network-based installation server.

  1. Select an operating system from the choices offered by the remote installation server.

  2. Use the setup utility for the operating system to complete the installation. If you need to restart to complete the process, press CTRL+ALT+END, or click Ctrl+Alt+Del from the virtual machine window.

See Also


Windows Virtual PC Help
Configuring a virtual machine
Using a virtual machine
Troubleshooting Windows Virtual PC