How to Use a Virtual PC

A Virtual PC is a program that imitates a wide range of Operating Systems inclusive of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, IBM OS/2, Linux, or Macintosh. For this to work it must maintain an adequately fast microprocessor.

A PC can simulate the desktop of whichever OS it is using on a part of the screen or using the complete screen if so desired.

It can utilize any program that functions in the original operating system on a standard Intel microprocessor. It can only be installed on a microprocessor that functions with a minimum of 180 MHz.

It will also require up to 300 megabytes of hard drive space and at least 24 megabytes of RAM or random access memory although 32 megabytes and more, is the preferred amount for proper functioning.

A Virtual PC is beneficial to a PC user who desires to use some programs that are not currently available on the OS being used.

It is a fairly convenient tool to employ despite the compromise to speed and overall performance of the PC. This article will demonstrate how to effectively install and operate a Virtual PC using a Microsoft Virtual PC.

Things You Will Need

  • Microsoft Virtual PC
  • Functioning Computer
  • Original Installation CD


  1. Download Microsoft Virtual PC from their website and then install it. You must be running XP or a newer version for satisfactory performance. It may be installed on some older systems but will possibly run less effectively.
  2. When the program is started it should prompt you to create a virtual machine. If it does not click [New].
  3. Select [Create A Virtual Machine] and then click [Next].
  4. Enter a name for the machine, possibly the name of the OS being installed, and then click next.
  5. Choose the OS that will be installed, at this point it will recommend various specifications for your Virtual PC. If the OS is not displayed click [other].
  6. Adjust the RAM to correspond with the OS you are currently using. Ensure that you do not select more RAM than is presently being employed by your machine.
  7. Select [A New Virtual Hard Disk] and continue by clicking [Next]. At this point, you will decide where the Virtual Hard Disk will be placed. You can use the default settings, this will work in most systems. Establish the size of the hard drive in megabytes.
  8. To complete the setup using the wizard you should see a new item in the Virtual PC Console box. This should contain your Virtual PC.
  9. Click on this item and press [Start]. It will initiate with several lines of text in the same way your OS would at start-up.
  10. Place the installation CD for your operating system in the CD drive.
  11. The directions will be clear for you to follow.
  12. If this was carried out correctly the installation should complete without any problems. If it prompts you to restart the computer depress ALT and R simultaneously. Restart the virtual system, not the real computer when the Virtual PC prompts you to restart. The system should start as if using a real computer.
  13. You can now use the programs available on the Virtual PC as you would on a regular PC.

Do’s and Dont’s

  • When using a Virtual PC on a laptop plug it in, do not depend on the battery as a primary energy source, as this will cause the PC to run much more slowly.
  • If you are using a Windows 95 virtual PC it may not boot up properly. Keep on restarting the system until it boots up. Do not use the computer while it is in the boot screen this will lower the probability of successfully starting the system.