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MCITP Lab Setup RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am starting to study for the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 certification which consists of exams 70-680 and 70-686, however I am unsure as to what setup would be best to run the training on.  I am currently running a virtualized evaluation copy of Win7 Enterprise within Win7 Pro using Windows Virtual PC.  The specs of the computer are as follows: Core i7-930, 6GB RAM, 120GB SSD (C:), 1TB 7200 (storage), 40GB SSD (VHD).  Is studying for these exams, and later for the Enterprise Administrator exams, practical on virtual machines, or would it be better to set up several physical machines and network them together.  I don't have that much experience with virtual machines, so it is a bit challenging for me to work with them.  But it seems like a lot of people suggest going the VM route as this experience is required in the field anyway.  Is using Windows Virtual PC adequate, or should I use something else?  I appreciate any help that can be provided.
    Sunday, July 10, 2011 3:53 AM

Answers

  • Running Windows 7 inside Virtual PC is slow, but it works sufficiently well for learning and practicing with the product. I do recommend going this way instead of using physical machines. One advantage is that you can enable "undo disks", so that you can perform various experiments inside the virtual machine and then abandon without saving changes, so that you get a new "fresh" machine when you start it up again for your next experiment. Another advantage is that you can set up several different machines with different configurations (possibly using differencing disks), both clients and servers, and you can easily network them together (or not) as needed. This would require a lot of resources if you were to do it with physical machines.

    One thing that you can't easily do with Virtual PC, but would require Virtual Server or Hyper-V, is to set up several different virtual networks to interconnect your virtual machines. But I don't think that you would need this kind of setup in order to prepare for MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator, so Virtual PC should be enough for your purposes.

    Another thing that you cannot do in Virtual PC is experiment with the "aero" graphics in Windows 7. It cannot be enabled because it requires a graphics acceleration card, which is not emulated by Virtual PC. You will need to try out this feature on a physical machine.

    • Marked as answer by Rubel Khan Monday, July 25, 2011 2:48 AM
    Sunday, July 10, 2011 6:48 AM

All replies

  • Running Windows 7 inside Virtual PC is slow, but it works sufficiently well for learning and practicing with the product. I do recommend going this way instead of using physical machines. One advantage is that you can enable "undo disks", so that you can perform various experiments inside the virtual machine and then abandon without saving changes, so that you get a new "fresh" machine when you start it up again for your next experiment. Another advantage is that you can set up several different machines with different configurations (possibly using differencing disks), both clients and servers, and you can easily network them together (or not) as needed. This would require a lot of resources if you were to do it with physical machines.

    One thing that you can't easily do with Virtual PC, but would require Virtual Server or Hyper-V, is to set up several different virtual networks to interconnect your virtual machines. But I don't think that you would need this kind of setup in order to prepare for MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator, so Virtual PC should be enough for your purposes.

    Another thing that you cannot do in Virtual PC is experiment with the "aero" graphics in Windows 7. It cannot be enabled because it requires a graphics acceleration card, which is not emulated by Virtual PC. You will need to try out this feature on a physical machine.

    • Marked as answer by Rubel Khan Monday, July 25, 2011 2:48 AM
    Sunday, July 10, 2011 6:48 AM
  • Thank you very much for the response Alberto.  I had seen the "undo disks" option, but wasn't really sure if I should try it out.  Now I know.

     

    Given the limitations of Virtual PC, it seems like it would be better to use Virtual Server or Hyper-V.  However, I have no experience with either.  Are they both free?  Which would be better for me to use?  

    Sunday, July 10, 2011 2:24 PM
  • Given the limitations of Virtual PC, it seems like it would be better to use Virtual Server or Hyper-V.  However, I have no experience with either.  Are they both free?  

    Well, Virtual Server is free, but it is not supported on Windows 7. You would need to install Windows XP (or Server 2003) in your host machine in order to run Virtual Server. On my main desktop computer, I have set up a dual boot with Windows 7 and Windows XP. The only time I ever boot into Windows XP is when I need to run a training course that requires Virtual Server.

    Hyper-V is "free" in the sense that it is included in Windows 2008 without additional cost, but of course Windows 2008 is not free.

    Note that both of these products still have the limitation that you can't turn on Aero in the guest operating system. Their main advantages are that they can set up multiple virtual networks between your multiple virtual machines and, in the case of Hyper-V, that you can run a 64-bit guest OS. In my opinion, none of these advantages is important enough when preparing for MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator that it would lead you to use these products instead of Virtual PC. BTW, one thing that I like of Virtual PC which is not available in Virtual Server or Hyper-V is the ability to drag-and-drop files between the host machine and the guest machine. This is very handy for transferring files between both environments.

    Monday, July 11, 2011 6:32 AM
  • Thanks again Alberto!  I really appreciate your insight and suggestions.  I'll go with Virtual PC.  I actually just upgraded the RAM on my system to 12GB so I can have more VMs running at one time.  Hopefully that will help me out.
    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 7:08 PM