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volume 12 number 2 february 2007 TipSheet

Welcome to the February issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll cover the newly released Vista and one method to Transition to Vista.

Tip 583   Virtually Two Months With Vista Category:   Vista

Just after Thanksgiving, the mail brought copies of Vista Enterprise Edition, along with Microsoft Office 2007 (Thanks, being that we are a Microsoft Certified Partner). Additionally, we had just finished building a spec system that was not yet spoken for, so after making a quick executive decision, I had a replacement for my almost three year old 1700MHz development workhorse.

Now, I've been through transitions before and know all of the pitfalls one usually runs into. Further, it was more than a development machine - it was my production machine. So I wanted to set it up so that it would be rock-solid - no matter what went wrong, a reboot would be all I needed to be back up and running.

So, with a lot of the work being done by Rich Bokoski, an image was made of the current system. Vista was loaded onto the new system, a MicroMetric Business Pro 64-3, with an AMD 64x2 4200+ dual core processor, with 3GB of memory and a single 500GB hard drive. (I'll add a second hard drive using RAID0 mirroring when I get a chance.) The main problems encountered were that no Vista drivers could be found for the USB devices I was using - two scanners, a multi-function printer, a label printer, and a game controller. (Long live PacMan)

To overcome these problems, the disk was partitioned - each at 250GB, and the Windows XP Professional (WXPP) was loaded to the second partition, and Dual booting enabled on the primary OS, Vista. This process went amazing smoothly, and gave me full functionality of all devices using the WXPP partition.

I was now set with a single system that would fulfill all of my needs, using two operating systems. But, as any of you who have tried this type of setup know, there is a penalty to be paid - you have to first shut down one OS, reboot, switch to the other, and wait for it to boot up. Not really practical on a day-after-day basis.

I had been doing research on Virtual Machine software for the desktop, and an article in Maximum PC covered the subject well. A Virtual Machine is a software program that runs on your computer and allows you to also run another operating system on it, at the same time. In essence, you are running two computers, one called the Host Operating System, running the other, called the Guest Operating system. The three reviewed in the article were from Microsoft, Parallels, and VmWare. The first two have releases that will work with Vista as the Host, but VmWare has not released their Host version (Vista will run as a Guest). So we evaluated Microsoft and Parallels. Microsoft states that USB is NOT supported, while Parallels claims "limited" support. We first got the Microsoft Virtual PC up and running with few problems, and I went through the normal learning curve, added a few bells and a whistle or two. After a week to two, we installed Parallels, and were able to run them both. Parallels USB support was indeed limited - I was not able to get any USB device to work with it.

Since the Microsoft software is free (!), and Parallels costs $50 after a two week eval, the decision to dump Parallels was easy. Microsoft has slated Virtual PC 2007 for release the first half of the year and rumor says it will have USB support. Memory is divided between the two, each having 1.5GB. When the Virtual PC is paused, all memory and processing time reverts to the real machine.

I've gotten to the point where the Vista boot is up almost full time. Our line-of-business database application runs full featured in the WXPP machine, along with QuickBooks 2006, while I work on getting the database to run well in Vista and Office 2007. As my setup includes dual monitors, I put the Virtual WXPP on the left, full screen, and use both monitors for Vista. One of the big advantages is that I can install programs on the Vista system as I have time - in the interim it's just a click or two away on the Virtual system.

Copyright 2007, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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