Converting a VPC to VMWare (and why?)

I have a separate Microsoft VirtualPC machine for each client.  I have worked with VMWare in the past, and know they do things better (performance, multiple CPUs, USB, etc), but I never thought it justified paying for VMWare Workstation.  Until now, that is... What grand feature could have made me want to switch?  16 terabyte RAM support, 40,000 CPUs, solid-state like access times?  No to all of the above.  What was it then???

VMWare 6 has multiple monitor support!!!

I can't tell you how exciting that is for me!  I'm a huge advocate of multiple monitors.  I've seen studies that show a 10% productivity increase with multiple monitors, and I absolutely believe it.  I have multiple monitors in my home office, and set them up when I have long-term client engagements.  It's always been frustrating having to revert to a single monitor with VPC.  Well, no more.  Now, with a click of a VMWare button, I have my VMWare machine using both monitors.  It really is a beautiful thing.

So far, the only problem I've had with VMWare is that the VMWare Mouse driver isn't working right.  It won't accept mouse button clicks.  Actually, it does weird stuff.  Right-clicking always pulls up the Taskbar menu.  Odd... anyway, I fixed it by going to My Computer | Manage | Device Manager, and deleting the VMWare mouse driver.  A generic one was installed in its place after a reboot, and that one seems to work OK.

One gotcha to converting VPC to VMWare
There's one gotcha when you want to convert a VPC image to VMWare.  You have to run the VMWare Converter software on an OS that is similar to the one being converted.  I run Vista on my workstation, and Server 2003 on most of my VPCs.  It failed every time I tried to run the converter on Vista, something about "Can't find guest operating system".  I just couldn't figure out why.  After finding many posts on the net where people had this problem and couldn't solve it, I finally saw on an obscure post somewhere that you had to use a server OS to convert a server OS.  So, I ran the converter on a Server 2003 VPC to convert another 2003 VPC to VMWare.  Bingo.  Problem solved!

Another tip is that the converter I ran installed VMWare 5 hardware specs on the virtual machine.  You can't use multiple monitors, however, without VMWare 6 hardware specs.  It's any easy fix.  From VMWare Workstation, choose VM | Upgrade or Change Version.  I ran it and had no issues whatsoever.

Multiple monitor software
One additional note.  If you move around to many different environments, and you use different monitor configurations, or, you use multiple monitors and want to do things like move maximized windows from one monitor to another, or set up hotkeys, etc., check out  For $39.95, it's more than worth it.

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John West

John West is an independent technology consultant who specializes in using technology to improve business processes.  That means that technology for its own sake isn't worth much; it's value only comes from helping people do things better, cheaper and faster.

That said, he spends way too much time testing cutting-edge gadgets that often come with promises of making things better and faster, but often fail to live up to those promises.  And they usually fail on the cheaper front as well.

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