This section provides basic information about using a virtual machine and links to instructions about performing specific tasks, such as using USB devices with a virtual machine.

You can access and manage virtual machines through the Virtual Machines folder. This folder is associated with your Windows user account, like the Documents and Pictures folders. The Virtual Machines folder lists all the virtual machines associated with your user account and shows details about those virtual machines, such as status (for example, running or hibernated). The shortcut to the Virtual Machines folder is located in the Windows Virtual PC group of the Start menu.

Interacting with the virtual environment

You can interact with the virtual environment by logging on to the guest operating system and using the virtual machine desktop, or by using virtual applications. For information about configuring virtual applications, see Publish and use virtual applications.

When you want to interact with a guest operating system, you open the virtual machine.

To open a virtual machine
  1. Open the Virtual Machines folder. From the Start menu, click Windows Virtual PC. If the menu item is not visible, click All Programs, click the Windows Virtual PC folder, and then click Windows Virtual PC.

  2. Start the virtual machine. In the file list, select the virtual machine and click Open, or double-click the virtual machine.

  3. Windows Virtual PC opens the virtual machine window and displays the video output of the virtual machine.

You can increase the size of the virtual machine desktop by using full-screen mode. Press the Windows logo key+UP ARROW. For a list of additional keyboard shortcuts you can use to perform common commands in a virtual machine, see the updated version of this topic in the Windows 7 Technical Library (

You can use CDs and DVDs in a virtual machine, as well as image files (.iso files). Windows Virtual PC supports only ISO 9660 images (the International Organization for Standardization standard format). To use physical media or .iso files, modify the DVD drive setting. For information about modifying settings, see Configuring a virtual machine.

You also can attach and use USB devices with virtual machines. For instructions, see Use a USB device in a virtual machine.

Managing the virtual environment

Even though the virtual machines may appear to be integrated with Windows 7, the guest operating systems and virtual applications require the same management and maintenance tasks that are required when you run them directly on physical computers. Each guest operating system is a separate entity and must be managed separately. For example, to receive the maintenance benefits provided by features and tools such as Windows Update and antivirus programs, you must install and run them in the guest operating system. Tools and features that run in the host operating system have no affect on the guest operating system.

See Also