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Other Abilities and Features

So, having built a good virtual instance, how easily can you clone it? After all, you don't want to suffer through multiple software installations. How complicated is it to clone a working instance in both products?

Figure 2 shows VMware's straightforward approach to replicating instances.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Send in the clones.

I like the multiple options and how clearly they're described. The "linked clone" option seems to provide some hard disk savings. I wonder about the impacts of using shared files across the instances, though. Windows stores many settings in the Registry; will those settings be shared across instances during a security demo that shows running with and without the screensaver password?

Why am I so nervous? Well, here's where that inability to detect Autoplay seems to come back to me.

I don't like Autoplay. I routinely disable it. But I now find that all my VMware instances have Autoplay enabled. I believe that the VMware panel asking about Autoplay preferences needs more explanation. I really don't want to fiddle to find how to disable it within VMware, nor do I want to create a policy manually, given XP Home's lack of support for Group Policy Manager.

So with this situation as background, is it likely that I'll have "linked clone" issues, with settings from common files bleeding into the separate instance? That may not be a concern. I quickly set the desktop to the "Windows Classic" template on my cloned instance. This arrangement makes it more responsive. This change in no way affected the baseline instance.

This exercise brings up another interesting difference between the two products. Virtual PC spawns multiple independent windows. VMware seems to spawn only child/MDI windows. This setup hurts my ability to display simultaneous machines, their settings, and their running script in real time. These abilities are vital when making presentations, and the lack makes VMware unusable for my purposes.

There's no official clone option in Virtual PC. I routinely make a copy of the settings and virtual hard disk directory. I then go into the admin console and configure a new Virtual PC to use the copied files. Again, it ain't pretty, but it works.

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