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What Is Virtualization
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Virtual Machine Additions

Virtual Machine Additions is a set of features that improve integration of the host and guest operating systems. It improves performance of the guest operating system and provides functionality such as drag-and-drop copying between the host and guest operating systems.

If you are new to Virtual PC, you will realize that when you move your mouse into a virtual machine and click on it, the mouse will be "absorbed" and locked into the guest operating system. In order to release your mouse from the guest operating system, you need to press the right Alt key. This is quite an irritation if you need to constantly switch between the virtual machines. But if you install the Virtual Machine Additions, this problem will go away and the mouse will move between the virtual machines with ease.

To install the Virtual Machine Additions, go to Action -> Install or Update Virtual Machine Additions. A prompt will appear. The installation process is automatic; you do not need to do anything. However, if the Virtual Machine Additions setup does not work, you can manually run the setup by going to My Computer and double-clicking on the drive labeled as VMADDITIONS13.306(D:) (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2. Locating the mounted drive for the Virtual Machine Additions

After the installation, you need to restart your virtual machine to enable the additional features.

One immediate change you'll see is the improved screen solution supported. Before I installed the Virtual Machine Additions, my virtual machine could only support resolutions up to 1024 by 768. But after the installation, the maximum resolution is 1600 by 1200.

More importantly, you can dynamically resize the virtual machine to whatever resolution you prefer. Figure 3 shows the virtual machine in a wide-screen mode (984 by 585). This is useful if you want to test how an application will look like in a wide-screen setting (especially for notebooks).

Figure 3
Figure 3. Dynamically resizing the resolution of the virtual machine

Also, check your date and time settings; you'll see that your virtual machine's time is now synchronized with the host machine. You can also drag-and-drop files and folders between the host and the guest operating system. Clipboard is also shared. Figure 4 shows capturing a screen shot in the host operating system (Windows XP) and then pasting the screen shot in Paint within the guest operating system (Windows Server 2003).

Figure 4
Figure 4. Sharing of clipboard

Unfortunately, Virtual Machine Additions is available for only the following guest operating systems:

  • Windows XP Professional

  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

  • Windows 2000 Professional

  • Windows Millennium Edition

  • Windows 98

  • Windows 95

  • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Service Pack 6

  • MS-DOS 6.22

  • IBM OS/2 Warp 4 Fixpack 15, OS/2 Warp Convenience Pack 1, and OS/2 Warp Convenience Pack 2

If you are using other operating systems (such as Linux), Virtual Machine Additions will not work.

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