Virtual PC and Windows 95


Having successfully virtualised Windows 95 using VMware Workstation Player (refer here) and Oracle VirtualBox (and here), my attention then turned to Virtual PC.

The latest version of Virtual PC (VPC) runs on Windows 7. Hyper-V replaces it in Windows 10. VPC 2007 and VPC 2004 are previous versions of VPC. Referring to the Table of supported operating systems in this article, the following become clear:

  1. VPC does not support Windows 95 as a guest.
  2. VPC 2004 fully supports Windows 95 as a guest.
  3. Windows 95 is compatible with VPC 2007. It is able to run guest additions designed for VPC 2004.

Based on this, I decided to work with VPC 2007, the highest version of VPC able to support Windows 95. The host operating system is Windows 7.

Installation

When setting up the VM, I chose Windows 98 as a comparable guest OS.

screenshot.48

As with VirtualBox, VPC 2007 handles both optical and floppy devices well. Interesting that VPC 2007 also assigned the letter R: to the optical drive. This must be some sort of defacto standard amongst virtualisation vendors. The floppy was A: and the target drive for the system was C: as expected.

Right-Alt is used to switch back from the guest system to the host system. Like VirtualBox, I found this took a little getting use to.

During installation, I allowed Windows 95 to detect hardware. I also enabled IP at this stage. When booting Windows 95 after initial setup, I got the dreaded Windows protection error I observed under VirtualBox. Unlike WP, which handled this intrinsically and VirtualBox, which had a workaround, VPC 2007 doesn’t have an elegant way of dealing with the issue. It’s necessary to look elsewhere. The solution is presented in this post. Once I applied the specified patch, Windows booted cleanly.

Impressions

After finalising setup and booting into Windows, the first thing that I noticed was sound. The display could also be adjusted and there was network visibility, all this without the addition of guest services (Microsoft use the term VM Additions). The view of Device Manager below provides clues as to why display, sound and network work out of the box. VPC 2007 does an excellent job of virtualising hardware for Windows 95.

screenshot.55.jpg

Attempting to install the VPC 2007 version of VM Additions  threw up the following error:

screenshot.49

This was expected based on the initial research. VPC 2004 VM Additions installed just fine. Drag and drop is enabled through guest additions making it easy to install IE

Summary

Words that describe my experience in key areas in getting VPC 2007 to create a Windows 95 VM:

  1. Installation – A little tricky.
  2. Sound –  Trivial.
  3. Display – Trivial.
  4. Network – Trivial.

Review

The table below summarises what works out-of-the-box for Windows 95 for the virtualisation software reviewed to date.

screenshot.53

Clearly, it’s easiest to set up a Windows 95 VM using Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007. This is somewhat expected given Windows 95 is Microsoft’s own product. An interesting observation is that WP and VirtualBox play together quite nicely, but VPC 2007 muscles out the competition. The former are likely to break when the latter is running.

References

  1. VMware and Windows 95
  2. VirtualBox and Windows 95
  3. Wikipedia: Windows Virtual PC
  4. VirtualBox and Windows XP
  5. Windows 95 2.1GHz CPU Limit BROKEN!
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