Virtual XP update
I recently wrote about creating Virtual Windows XP’s so that schools could creatively extend the life cycle of their XP PC’s on newer PC’s after Microsoft ends their support of this popular OS on the 8th of April. In the post I outlined the process involved in using Parallels Workstation to create a virtual XP machine; recently however, Parallels announced that this product was no longer available as they were now focusing on the Mac platform. Although my copy of Parallels Workstation continues to function as does my current Windows XP virtual PC, unfortunately, the product will no longer receive updates!
In that original blog I very briefly mentioned that VMWare workstation was a similar product and offered academic prices. Reading about the end of Parallels Workstation for Windows OS I decided to take another look at the VMWare offering. I downloaded and installed the trial version of WMWare Workstation 10 and proceeded to create a Virtual Windows 8.1 PC on my Windows 7 desktop. I had previously downloaded a preview iso of Windows 8.1 from Microsoft and I used this iso during the setup process. Everything was very straight forward and I ended up with a fully functioning time limited trial of Windows 8.1 running in the VMWare environment. I also created a Virtual Windows XP PC from scratch using VMWare workstation 10. I was very impressed with the VMWare product and returned to their website to look at their other products.
During this visit I stumbled across 2 free offerings!
VMWare Player allows a user to run virtual machines in separate windows. The licensed version of VMWare player – Player Plus, is for commercial use. Delving deeper into the FAQ’s on the site I found out that Workstation 10 is the more advanced, feature loaded product when compared to the basic VMWare Player. Workstation allows the capturing of “Snapshots” of virtual machines as well as wealth of advanced virtual machine settings. VMWare player seems to be an ideal product for running virtual machines in a school environment.
The second free offering I found is vCenter Converter; this program transforms a physical Windows PC into a VMWare virtual machine that can be used by VMWare Player! The program is very well documented and the process to transform from physical to virtual is straightforward. The only downside I could find was that the transformation process sometimes changes the virtual machine by allowing it to adopt the new “Host” machine hardware configurations; this could cause some software programs to stop working if they depend on hardware configurations as part of their installation and serial code process!
That being said I think these two programs should be given some serious consideration. Functioning Windows XP machines in a school environment, “fully loaded” with important ICT resources and supporting educational programs can be given a whole new lease of life by cloning them into virtual machines before they reach the end of their natural life cycle. In the near future I intend to use VCenter Converter to “clone” my very old XP laptop that has all my educational software running on it. I’m confident the process will run smoothly and that I’ll have a fully functioning virtual educational machine that won’t be hardware dependent!