In an effort to save time and frustration later, i decided to try the Vista upgrade on a virtual machine on my mac using parallels instead of using an actual production PC running Winxp. But, as so often happens, the effort turned out to be frustrating and time consuming.
I’ll try to keep this short, but i warn you now, if your setup is like mine then you are in for a long ride to eventually get to, and i’m paraphrasing here, where you want to go today.
First let me give you the sitch. I have a MacBook running Parallels that i use to run Winxp and Autocad and try out a few other programs once in a while. I didn’t want to screw up that virtual machine, because it works, and does come in handy, so i fired up Parallels and created a Clone of that Virtual machine so i had one to play with and not worry about screwing everything up.
First hurdle: ACPI not compatible with the Windows Vista upgrade. To which i replied “huh”, then realized what it was saying and why. When i created the clone of the VM for some reason i ended up with the OS set to Vista, even though it was actually WinXP. You need to have the OS type set to WinXP, so you can do the “prepare for windows vista upgrade” which is under the ACTIONS menu and can only be performed when the VM is not active. You will be prompted to insert the Vista DVD as the VM restarts.
Second hurdle: The existing partition i had for WinXP was too small being as i had set up an expanding drive set to 8 gig, but thankfully a little program named XXCLONE ( http://www.xxclone.com/idwnload.htm) works in windows (even a virtual machine) and copies an entire partition to another larger partition, with little input and absolutely no hassle. All i had to do was create a copy of the WinXP partition, then adjust the size in Parallels – which erases all the info on that partition so be forewarned – and clone the small 8 gig partition onto the 20 gig i had just created, giving me enough space for the Windows Vista Upgrade. Next was the simple change of the settings in Parallels to make the new 20 gig hard drive the active one and disable the original smaller hard drive. Then, prepare for Windows Vista Upgrade (see hurdle one if you forget) which involves restarting the VM and inserting the DVD, and following the simple instructions to upgrade your WinXP machine to Vista. This takes a little while, even when you allow Vista to connect to the web to install the most current updates, patches, etc – you will still be in for a bunch of updates after it is supposedly done, but i digress, this is after all supposed to be about upgrading a VM not a review of Vista.
Hurdle Three (& Four): Autocad did not work fully after the upgrade. It wanted the install CD to reinstall the express tools. After it had reinstalled them a couple of error messages showed up when Autocad finally starts, dealing with ACAD not being able to load in the menu. Simple fix though, type “MENULOAD” and find the proper menu, load it and also load the expresstools menu. After the menus are loaded and everything is looking correct, type “EXPRESSTOOLS” in Acad and the menu will become active and usable. AVG and AVG anti-spyware did not work. AVG anti-virus required the downloading and reinstalling of a newer Vista compatible version and then the routine updates to the program and database. I know this is not a virtual machine thing, it’s just something i point out because after all Vista is still windows and is full of holes, albeit smaller holes that WinXP, but you MUST ensure you are protected.
In conclusion, upgrading a virtual machine to run Vista is a little time consuming, but possible without starting from a clean install, which was originally what the vista installer implied. it would seem that boosting the memory up to the max helps alot with the operation of Vista in a VM, but it is very taxing on any other programs you may have running on your mac. it does not give up that memory very quickly after quitting Parallels. But for me, wanting to get a real feel for Vista without actually committing to it, it was worth the time and effort.