VMware Player plays Virtual PCs

I had an interesting need the other day. I wanted to set up a test Windows Server 2003 box on a development system. I didn't have a license for VMware workstation that I could use on the development system, and I didn't want to install the free VMware Server since I've not yet had an opportunity to use it yet and this wasn't the time to start. VMware Player can only "play" (not create) virtual machines.

Virtual PC 2004 w/SP1 from Microsoft is now free. But I find that I prefer VMware's products to the Microsoft offerings. Not wanting to spend much time debating which virtualization package I should use, I went ahead and installed Virtual PC 2004 w/SP1. Whilst installing Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition into a virtual machine, I started wondering if VMware Player could interpret Virtual PC virtual machines.

The VMware Player product page states:

VMware Player also supports Microsoft virtual machines...
It wasn't a large jump to interpret "Microsoft virtual machines" as "Virtual PC 2004 virtual machines". Indeed, that is the case. I finished installing Windows Server 2003 in Virtual PC 2004, and powered the VM off just after the final reboot that takes place during installation. I installed VMware Player, ran it, opened the Virtual PC 2004 .VMC file, and after a short import process I was able to start the virtual machine that I had created with Virtual PC 2004, in VMware Player.

So, for $0 (well, a Windows OS license is required) I was able to create a Windows Server 2003 virtual machine with Virtual PC 2004 and use it with VMware Player. Pretty cool...

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