Reusing VirtualPC Windows with Parallels

I found an old copy of Virtual PC I bought back when it was useful. It came with a copy of Windows XP Home and a valid license key. Obviously, I can’t use Virtual PC any more. I wondered if I could use it with Parallels. I can. It’s pretty simple, and it lets me have a legit copy of Windows for Parallels.

I put in the disc labeled “Virtual PC for Mac” and it mounted. I do everything from the command line, and I’m not sure if this can be done from the Finder. I have a folder /Users/Shared/DiskImages that I use to store ISOs and similar things, and that’s where I wanted to put the Windows ISO that I thought was part of Virtual PC. It turns out they don’t distribute installation media. They distribute an already-made hard disk with Windows installed.

  1. I found a file called Windows XP in a folder called /Volumes/Virtual PC for Mac version 7/.extras. I copied it to my DiskImages folder.
  2. I ejected the disc and put in “Installation CD 2”. I copied the file Windows XP from /Volumes/Virtual PC Disc 2
  3. I unzipped both zip files. In my case I used the ‘unzip’ command at the command line. Double clicking would probably work.
  4. I concatenated the two files together to make one big file called Windows XP Home.vhd:

    cat Windows\ XP\ Home.vhd.001 Windows\ XP\ Home.vhd.002 >> Windows\ XP\ Home.vhd

  5. To save some disk space, you can get rid of the .001, .002, and .zip files.

  6. In Parallels Desktop 5.0, I went to File -> New, and selected the vhd file I just made. It started creating a Windows VM.

  7. After a few minutes, it stopped and I had to do manual things. Mainly I had to enter the CD key (which I had from my VirtualPC box), and do activation. Everything went smoothly.

  8. Parallels continued its installation and installed Parallels Tools and Kaspersky Internet Security. I had a lot of updates to do (all of Service Pack 2, all of Service Pack 3, and IE 8 and so on).

At the end of the day, though, I took a legit copy of Windows and repurposed it in (what I believe to be, anyways) a legal way. That was quite handy.