Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Virtualization Fever

Published by Sunbelt Software FORUMS | BLOG | RSS | MY PROFILE | PRIVACY  

Vol. 3, # 77 - Jun 25, 2009 - Issue # 86 
 Virtualization Fever

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Virtualization Fever
    • Follow-up: Is the Web Browser an Important Part of the OS?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Free application lets you create virtual desktops on Vista
    • Can you get Windows 7-like performance on a Vista computer?
    • Thinking of buying an ultra portable laptop? Read this first
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to restrict the hours your child can use the computer in Vista
  5. Vista Security
    • USB drive encryption for Vista
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • How can I get rid of the auto completion in IE?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • How to use the Bootrec.exe tool
    • You get an error message when you try to restore from a full backup
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Pushing the Limits: Installing Windows 7 on a Pentium II
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • ZipBackup: Protect your Computer's Files with ZipBackup Windows Backup Software!

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Editor's Corner

Virtualization Fever

Virtualization is all the rage in the server environment these days. Companies can save a bundle of money by running multiple server operating systems in VMs on one physical machine, thus reducing hardware expenses, electric bills, etc. - but server consolidation isn't the only use for virtualization technology. You can also get big benefits by running VMs on your desktop computer, and that includes security benefits.

One exciting new virtualization trend makes VMs on the desktop particularly useful. In the past, you would install virtualization software such as Microsoft's Virtual PC or VMWare Workstation and create a virtual machine. Then you would install an operating system in the VM and install whatever applications you wanted on that OS. The desktop of the virtual OS ran in a window on the host (your desktop), so you had, in essence, a window in which a second computer was running. It had its own computer name and IP address and appeared to the network as a second computer.

You can still do all that, but now there is another way to use virtualization on the desktop. Now those applications that are installed on the virtual machine can be run in individual windows on your host desktop, where they appear to you as if they were running on the host instead of the VM. The virtualized applications are completely integrated into the host. It's amazing.

I've been testing a pre-beta application software package (that I can't talk about at this time - which is really killing me because I'm very excited about it) and I wasn't able to install it on my primary desktop machine because of a conflict with something else I was running there. So I fired up VMWare Workstation and installed the applications in a VM running Windows. It's something I've done hundreds of times before - but this time it was different, because I had just upgraded to a new version of VMWare that has a feature called Unity Mode. The applications that are running on the guest (the OS in the VM) look just like local apps, except that they have a different colored window border to distinguish them. More importantly, they're just as snappy and responsive as local apps (at least they are on my Core i7; I haven't yet tested it on my older machine).

Why would you want to run virtualized apps anyway? Security is one reason. Let's say you need to visit a large number of web sites and are afraid some might contain malware. You could run the web browser as a virtualized application; if the guest operating system does get infected, your host OS (your primary desktop) won't be affected, and since it's a VM, you can always create image snapshots of its state prior to the infection and just restore them. Compatibility is another reason. If you have an application that will only run on a particular OS (for example, Windows XP) and you want to run a different OS (such as Vista or Windows 7), you can create an XP VM on which you run the application, which appears on your Windows 7 desktop as if it were a local app.

There's a drawback to using VMWare Workstation for this, though - the cost. A full license costs around $200 (slightly less for the download version and slightly more for the packaged retail version). If you're upgrading from VMWare 5.x, it's $99. Not outrageous, but still a significant expense for many people.

This same type of application virtualization will be available, free, to Windows 7 users in the form of Virtual PC/Windows XP Mode (sometimes referred to as XPM), which will allow you to run applications that won't work in Windows 7 on your Windows 7 desktop by installing them on an XP VM. Those who are already running the Windows 7 release candidate don't have to wait for final release to try out XP Mode. You can download the beta here:

The setup program welcomes you to "Virtual Windows XP" and includes not only the Virtual PC software but also XP SP3. The license specifies that it is for users of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. As with previous versions of Virtual PC, you can adjust settings for the VM, such as how much memory to allocate to it. You can see screen shots of the XP Mode installation here:

What's the catch? There always is one, isn't there? To use the Win7 XP Mode software, your hardware has to support either Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) or AMD-V. Most modern 64 bit processors do - but not all. Tom bought a 17 inch HP laptop a while back, with the idea that he would use it for giving presentations. It had great specs, plenty of processing power and memory to run VMs for demonstrations. But when he went to install a 64 bit VM, which requires VT, he discovered that the Intel processor was a low cost version that didn't include VT. Ouch!

Note that you don't have to have a VT/AMD-V enabled machine for VMWare Workstation - unless you want to run a 64 bit guest OS. However, Microsoft's implementation in XP Mode is more secure, because it takes advantage of Intel's Trusted Platform Module (TPM).

Even if your processor does support VT, most computers ship with it disabled in the BIOS, so you have to go in and enable it. Unfortunately, there's another Catch-22: even if the processor does support VT, some PC vendors don't allow you to enable it in the BIOS. Double ouch! That's just wrong. Ed Bott compiled a listing of which Intel processors support VT here:

There's one more "gotcha" when it comes to using virtualization technology. In most cases, you'll need to buy licenses for any software that you install in a virtual machine, just as if you were installing it on a separate physical machine. As mentioned before, Win7 XP Mode comes with a license for the Windows XP OS - but you'll still need a license for any applications that you install in that XP VM. When using VMWare or the regular version of Virtual PC 2007, you need licenses for the operating systems that you install in the VMs, as well as the applications. Of course, operating systems and applications that are distributed at no cost (betas, release candidates, trial versions, open source) can be installed in VMs without paying for a license, under the same terms as when you install them on any machine.

If you want to run VMs on Windows Vista or XP and don't want to pay for VMWare Workstation, you can download Virtual PC 2007 free from the Microsoft web site. VT/AMD-V is not required to run VPC 2007. You can get it at:

Tell us what you think about virtualization technology. Do you use it? Do you use it just for server consolidation, or on the desktop as well? Do you routinely run virtualized applications? Would you, if you had the software to do so? We encourage you to discuss this on our forums at

or write to

Follow-up: Is the Web Browser an Important Part of the OS?

As expected, last week's editorial about Microsoft's offer to create a European version of Windows 7 that doesn't come with IE bundled (In response to the EU's anti-trust actions) drew plenty of comments, both favorable and not.

I rather liked this answer from Mike: "Well, it is all in the eye of the beholder. Users who want to social network etc. and companies trying to buy and sell stuff etc. think the browser is the end all be all. However, if you ask those of us over 40 and involved in math, physics and other hard core science, no the browser isn't very important, except maybe to find out when and where the next black meeting is or seminar on quarks."

And Rick G. titled his response "I love the browser wars" and said, "More features at each new release, spam and phishing protection, who cares who puts it out...and the price is right."

Kenneth F. had this to say: "The way I see it, Opera has decided that they cannot compete against Internet Explorer, so they've decided to get the EU to force Microsoft to subsidize them ... If it's right for them to force Microsoft to distribute their browser for them, then it's right for me to force another author's publisher to distribute my book." And Greg A. said, "The bottom line: The EU needs to stop meddling in everything MS does and get on with more important issues that face them. They really must not have anything better to do with their time."

Morten A. wanted to clarify this point: "I don't really have an opinion on the matter, just wanted to state for the record that Norway is not a member of the EU, so even though your argument is likely, Norway by definition would have limited input on the matter."

Many of you seem to be thinking along the same lines as Jim in regard to IE: "there is no reason a browser has to be included in the OS. Bundle with it is acceptable, but there in no reason it has to be part of the OS." But Rick P. agrees with the EU: "You know, I really like the idea of a 'Ballot Screen'. What a great thing that would be if I could opt for Firefox and have it downloaded without worrying if IE is going to hinder its operation, or if it will load up my hard drive with unneeded files."

John J. had this suggestion: "The MS/OEM/Browser solution is simple - MS should provide IE with a 60-day license. That would provide A) plenty of time for the User to renew IE or choose another browser and, B) documentation that the User voted with their mouse to stay with IE or go elsewhere." Thanks to all of you who wrote on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. - W.C. Fields (1880 - 1946)

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.- Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


Never reinstall your XP again. New technology: no set-up, no loss of data or applications. The ultimate professional repair tool. Free PC booster with every scan, get it now!

WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better

Backblaze is the no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up online securely, easily, automatically, and for only $5/month for unlimited storage.

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

I need a real program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Free application lets you create virtual desktops on Vista

Here's yet another form of "virtualization" that Mac and Linux users are very familiar with: virtual desktops. What it means is the ability to create separate workspaces that you can switch between. For instance, you might have a "work" desktop on which you're running your productivity applications and documents or web browsers containing research for the paper you're writing. Then you might have a "play" desktop with your favorite games and web browsers open to your favorite social networking sites or entertainment news. When it's time to take a break, you can easily switch from one to the other. Over the years, there have been several programs that let you add this functionality to Windows, but Dexpot has a couple of advantages: it works with almost all editions of Windows (including 64 bit) and it's free. Check it out at

Can you get Windows 7-like performance on a Vista computer?

The consensus among beta testers and users of the Windows 7 release candidate has been that 7 is faster than Vista. It boots up more quickly and it's snappier in routine use. But what if you aren't ready to take the plunge and install an operating system that hasn't yet been finally released? Rick Broida of PC World says you can make Vista perform similarly to Windows 7 - and get some of the other benefits of Windows 7 as well - without changing your OS. Find out how at

Thinking of buying an ultra portable laptop? Read this first

What's the difference between a netbook and an ultra portable laptop? They might look a lot alike, but their price tags don't. And neither do their tech specs. If you need a computer that's small enough and light enough to take almost anywhere, but you also need to do more resource intensive tasks that a netbook can't handle (or can't handle well), you just might be in the market for an ultra portable. If so, check out this article on "How to Buy an Ultraportable Laptop" on ComputerWorld at

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to restrict the hours your child can use the computer in Vista

If you have a family computer that's shared with your young children, you may want to restrict the hours that they can log on (for instance, no logging on after bedtime, or during the time they're alone in the house before you get home from work). Vista's parental controls make it easy to do. Here's how:
  1. Log on as an administrator.
  2. Click Start | Control Panel and then click the Parental Controls applet.
  3. Click Continue at the UAC prompt.
  4. Click the child's account name and then click "On, Enforce Current Settings."
  5. Click Time Limits.
  6. For each day of the week, you can set the hours that are allowed and the ones that are blocked.
When the child is logged on, a message will pop up right before the end of the specified time limit, warning that the account will be logged off in one minute. This does not close running applications, so data won't be lost. While the child is logged on, he can hover the mouse pointer over the Parental Controls

Vista Security

USB drive encryption for Vista

Much ado has been made about BitLocker to Go, the new Windows 7 feature that extends drive encryption capabilities to removable drives such as USB flash drives. Because the little flash drives are so easily lost or stolen, protecting the data on them is especially important. But BitLocker is only part of the most expensive editions of Windows 7 (Enterprise and Ultimate) and what if you're using Vista and don't plan to upgrade the OS immediately? You might want to check out TrueCrypt, free open source software that does real time encryption of both hard drive partitions and removable drives, using standard algorithms such as AES and Twofish. You can get it here:

Vista Question Corner

How can I get rid of the auto completion in IE?

When I type something in Internet Explorer it tries to "guess" what I want to type and give me a bunch of choices of things I typed before. In a way it's nice but I made the mistake of "accepting" the wrong choice a few times. I'd like to just turn this off if there's a way to do that. Can you point me to the setting if there is one? Thanks. - Regan P.

Turning autocomplete on or off is simple, and you can even choose to leave it on for web addresses, for example, and turn it off for forms. Here's how:
  1. Click Tools | Internet Options
  2. Click the Content tab
  3. Click the Autocomplete button
  4. Check or uncheck the autocomplete functions as you desire (there are three choices: web addresses, forms and user names and passwords)
Note that if you enable autocomplete for user names and passwords, you don't have to enter your credentials each time you access a password-protected web site - but if someone else uses the browser with your logged on account, they will be able to access your password protected web sites, too, so be careful about using this option.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

How to use the Bootrec.exe tool

Windows Vista includes the Bootrec.exe utility to troubleshooting and repair problems with the master boot record, boot sector and Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store, any of which can cause problems booting the operating system. You need the Vista installation disc to use Bootrec.exe in the Recovery Environment. To find out more, see KB article 927392 at

You get an error message when you try to restore from a full backup

The Backup program in Vista is much more sophisticated than the old XP backup, but sometimes you run into problems. If you perform a full backup to an external drive and then try to restore it to a different computer, you may receive an error message because the restore wizard isn't able to access the backup files due to denied access or missing/corrupt files. For step-by-step instructions on how to resolve this problem, see KB article 951002 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Pushing the Limits: Installing Windows 7 on a Pentium II

We had all heard that the hardware requirements for Windows 7 were actually lower than those for Vista, but we had no idea how much lower. Although not supported by Microsoft, it appears Win7 will run on a pretty ancient (by computer standards) machine. One forum participant claims to have installed it on a 266 MHz Pentium II with 96 MB of RAM. Wow. Should I give it a try with that old 8086 in the closet? Read more about it here:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

ZipBackup: Protect your Computer's Files with ZipBackup Windows Backup Software!

ZipBackup is easy to use and stores your backup in Zip format - the most common type of compressed file. ZipBackup's Wizard walks you through a simple step-by-step process for creating zip backups. You select what folders you want to backup, where to backup and you are done. Unlike other backup programs, you don't need ZipBackup to restore your data. In fact, Windows XP ships with Zip file compatibility built in. Whether you want to backup files to send to someone else, transfer your data to a new computer, or make sure you can open your backups in the future, you need ZipBackup. Download your free evaluation version. Get an exclusive VistaNews $10.00 off coupon! More features here.

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