I'm currently running Vista for my HTPC, and am planning on upgrading to Windows 7 soon. However, I've been considering installing it as a VM so that I can run Windows Server 2008 and/or Windows Home Server.

The single requirement is that the HTPC must boot up to Windows Media Center with absolutely no user intervention. I need to be able to hit the power button have it go. I've got this working currently, so I don't need to keep a keyboard or mouse plugged in - all I use is my remote.

If possible, I'd love to be able to do these other things:

  • Use Win2k8 Server as a VM host for Windows 7 Pro and WHS. This also lets me run IIS7 for doing ASP.NET development
  • Use WHS for all the wonderful things it does for a home network

Are either of the two optional things possible while meeting the WMC requirement?



Whilst you can script it so that VmWare (Workstation or other) or Microsoft Virtual PC start up and boot your VM, this will most likely be slow and fustrating.

If I was you right now, install VmWare Workstation or Microsoft Virtual PC and put Windows 2008 or WHS inside of that.

You then retain the HTPC ability and can do whatever you want in the virtual pc.

If I understood you and you were thinking of using WMC inside of a VM, I wouldn't... whilst it may work, it certainly would not be recommended for audio / video delays and general overhead of virtualisation.

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  • Good points on the A/V issues and overhead. The only reason I wanted to avoid using WMC as the VM host was because it seems more likely that I'd need to reboot (or gasp reinstall!) that OS than the server OS. – Daniel Schaffer Sep 4 '09 at 22:17
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    BTW, I'd vote you up, but I don't have the rep yet :( – Daniel Schaffer Sep 4 '09 at 22:18
  • it's alright, i'll vote him up on your behalf. – caliban Sep 4 '09 at 22:26

If I'm not mistaken, you HTPC would really like direct access to your GPU to decode h264 streams and passtrough audio trough HDMI.

Hypervisor in Windows Server would not offer that kind of virtualization, your graphical card will be an emulated card.

You could run windows 7 and use virtual server to run Home Server in the background?

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  • Another great answer, but will upvote when I get the rep :) – Daniel Schaffer Sep 4 '09 at 22:24
  • How well will WHS run in a virtual environment? – Travis Northcutt Dec 16 '09 at 15:54

You can but I cannot recommend it at all for HTPC usage. Current virtualization solutions handle video in a clunky manner that severely degrades pictures quality and/or performance, as video usage isn't a concern for them. I've tried to do it before, but when you are left with a blocky picture that takes more processing power to render, you long to switch to a non-virtualized solution.

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Server 2008 r2 sp1 will support virtualized gpu's. Only then would a virtualized WMc be something to consider.

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