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WPDOS Under Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

What is a virtual PC? | Frequently-asked questions | Create a DOS-based virtual PC for WPDOS | Create a Windows 98 virtual PC for WPDOS | Exchanging files to and from a virtual PC | Networking between Vista and a Windows 98 virtual PC | Home page

Serious warning: I wrote this page only because visitors to this site have requested the information it provides. I do not recommend that you use the methods described on this page unless you have a very specific and fully thought-out reason for doing so. WordPerfect is faster and easier to use when run under the vDosWP or DOSBoxWP system, not under Virtual PC 2007!

The Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 method described on this page works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. (Note that under Windows 7, Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 can only be installed if a later product, "Windows Virtual PC" is not installed.) Similar methods listed on this site's page about 64-bit Windows will also work under 32-bit Windows.

If you have a 64-bit version of Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7, then you may want to read this page, because the methods described on this page allow WordPerfect for DOS to be used on your system, but the vDosWP or DOSBoxWP methods are superior in every way. If you want to be absolutely certain whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows, use the Windows Control Panel, switch to Classic View or Small Icons if necessary, and open the System applet. On the General tab, look at the information under "System". If you see "x64", then you have a 64-bit version of Windows. If you see "x32" or if you see neither "x32" nor "x64", then you have a 32-bit version of Windows. See also a separate page on other methods of running WPDOS under 64-bit Windows.

Don't be clueless! Clueless Visitor No. 19 had a 32-bit version of Windows, but downloaded the 64-bit version of Virtual PC 2007 because he had a vague idea that he had a 64-bit processor in his computer. He didn't understand that every modern computer has a 64-bit processor, but that doesn't mean that he had a 64-bit version of Windows. Don't follow the bad example of Clueless Visitor No. 19! (One of a series of Don't be clueless! warnings, presented by this site as a public service.)

If you need help with Virtual PC 2007: Post a message in Microsoft's Virtual PC Discussion Group. Make sure to provide a very full description of the problem. Please do not ask me for help in installing or using Virtual PC!

If you need help with WordPerfect for DOS: Post a message in the WPDOS forum at WPUniverse.com. Make sure to provide a very full description of the problem.

What it means to run WordPerfect for DOS in a virtual PC

This page explains how to use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 to run WordPerfect for DOS in a "virtual PC." A virtual PC or virtual machine is, in effect, a computer that does not exist as a physical box, only as a window in the physical computer on your desk.

A virtual PC is a computer made entirely from software. It runs a copy of Windows, Linux, DOS, or other operating system as if it were a physical machine, completely separate from your actual, physical computer. Your physical computer can be running Windows, and the virtual PC inside it can be running Linux; or the reverse. The virtual PC has its own simulated hard disk, CPU, network card, video card, etc., but it can can use the CD-ROM drive and diskette drive on your physical computer as if they were drives on the virtual computer. What you see in a virtual PC window (or in full-screen if you switch the virtual PC to full-screen mode) is what you would see on a physical monitor if the virtual PC were an actual, physical PC.

If you don't understand these concepts, download the free Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 from Microsoft's web site (search Google for "Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1" in order to find the download page) and experiment with it until you do. (You do not need to install the original non-SP1 version; the SP1 version is complete.) You should also install the "hotfix rollup package for Virtual PC 2007 SP1."

Don't be clueless! Make sure to download the correct Virtual PC version for your operating system! If you have a 64-bit version of Windows, then download the 64-bit version of Virtual PC, not the 32-bit version! Remember, just because you have a 64-bit processor in your computer does not mean that you have a 64-bit version of Windows, though, if you bought your computer after around 2010, you probably do have a 64-bit version. Again: Don't be clueless!

Important terminology: Your actual physical computer, running Windows XP or Vista, is called the "host" machine. Your virtual PC, created by Virtual PC 2007, is called the "guest" machine. You can have more than one guest machine running inside the host machine at any one time, though there is usually no reason to do so.

Virtual PC has two major advantages over other virtualization software such as VMware Workstation, Parallels Desktop, or VirtualBox:

(a) A Virtual PC guest machine fully supports Expanded (EMS) Memory, which is required for smooth operation of WPDOS 5.1 and by almost all add-on software used with WPDOS.

(b) All virtualization software lets you run the "guest" machine so that it either runs in a window or fills your actual physical screen. With Virtual PC, when you run a DOS or Windows "guest" machine in full-screen mode, and run a DOS application in the guest machine, the "virtual" DOS screen also fills your actual screen and look exactly the way WordPerfect for DOS looks in its traditional full-screen mode. In contrast, when you run a DOS or Windows "guest" machine in full-screen mode under VMware Workstation or Parallels Desktop, and run a DOS application in the guest machine, the DOS screen fills only a tiny rectangle in the middle of your actual screen.

Note: Virtual PC achieves this feat by taking the output of its "virtual" video card and sending it to your computer's full screen using the graphics commands built into your actual ("host") copy of Windows. The screen looks as if it is displaying old-style hardware-based VGA fonts, but it actually displays a graphic image of those fonts. 

If you want to transfer files between a guest machine and your host system, you must do one of two things: either use Virtual PC's "Shared Folders" feature, which lets you designate a folder on the host machine as a drive letter on the guest, or set up a Windows network that can be used by the guest and host. You may already have a Windows network, and the guest machine can act like another computer on your existing network. See the section on file-exchange below, and study the warnings about Virtual PC Shared Folders!

You can run WordPerfect for DOS in a guest machine that runs either DOS or Windows.

If you create a DOS-based guest, WordPerfect thinks it is running in an old computer, just as it was designed to do. Unfortunately, the only way to move files between the guest and host is through Virtual PC's "shared folders" feature, which is very slow when working with large files or folders with a large number of files. Furthermore, unless your printer is directly connected to your computer by a parallel cable to a parallel port that is built into your motherboard, you will need to setup a complicated workaround method to print from WordPerfect. The relevant methods are described below.

If you create a Windows 98-based guest, WordPerfect runs as well it does in a DOS machine, and you can share files between guest and host either through Virtual PC's "shared folders" feature or over a traditional network connection between guest and host; both methods, unfortunately, are slow. You can also print from the guest machine to a networked printer on the host machine. The relevant methods are described below.

Frequently-asked questions:

Q. I understand how this method works, but you haven't told me whether you think I should use it. It sounds very complicated to set up. Please tell me whether the results will be worth my time and trouble.
    A. I can't tell you the answer to that question. If you need to run WPDOS in graphics mode in a Windows desktop window, then this method may be worth the trouble of setting it up. If you need to run WPDOS in full-screen mode on a system that otherwise refuses to do so, then it may be worth trying. I can't predict whether or not you will want to use this method. Why not take some time and try it?

Best method: create a DOS-based Virtual PC "virtual machine" for running WPDOS

This method creates a guest machine that runs the DOS system that comes with Windows 98, but does not run Windows; it only runs "Windows 98 DOS," not the Windows desktop or any other Windows features. This method works extremely well, and at high speed, in WordPerfect's text and graphics modes, and fully supports high-resolution VESA graphics.

In following the instructions below, please do not try to be clever and original. Do not run any commands other than the ones in these instructions. You do not have to change directories or anything else to make these instructions work correctly. Simply do exactly what the instructions say to do, and nothing else, now matter how tempting something else might be. You do not need anything that I don't explicitly tell you that you need in order to set up this system! Don't be clueless! Don't download any files unless I explicitly tell you to download them! Don't assume anything that isn't explicitly stated!

(1) Download a "virtual floppy disk" that you will use for installing Windows 98 DOS. Right-click on this link and save the ZIP archive file. Unzip the downloaded archive file and store the file inside, it, VPCWin98Files.vfd, in some convenient location. This file is a "floppy disk image file."

(2) Start Virtual PC 2007. Choose New, then "Create a Virtual Machine"; give the virtual machine a useful name; in the Operating System dropdown, choose Windows 98; accept the recommended RAM; in the hard disk dialog, choose "A new virtual hard disk"; choose a name like Win98DOS for the hard disk; press OK until the new machine appears in the Virtual PC Console. Select it, click Settings, scroll down to Undo Disks; place a checkmark next to "Enable undo disks"; if you have an LPT1 port built into your motherboard (not on an add-in card), scroll down to LPT1; choose Physical Parallel Port, and match the LPT1 port on your real physical computer; press OK.

(3) Click Start to start up the virtual machine that you have now created. Ignore the activity that appears in the window; choose Floppy from the top-line menu; select "Capture floppy disk image"; navigate to the floppy disk image file VPCWin98Files.vfd and select it. Press RightAlt-R to restart the virtual machine. When the machine boots from the virtual floppy, run Fdisk; press Enter at each prompt to accept all the defaults; then Esc at the end when prompted; then press RightAlt-R to restart the virtual machine.

(4) When the virtual machine restarts, run Format C: to format the virtual hard disk; if you want to, you may give the disk a name when prompted at the end of the format, but you do not need to do so. Then type RUN-THIS.BAT and press Enter. Follow the prompts. When the batch file is finished, press a key, then (as instructed) use the Virtual PC top-line Floppy menu to release the virtual VPCWin98Files.vfd file, and press RightAlt-R to restart the virtual machine.

(5) Your virtual machine should start up with about 625 KB of free memory, plus expanded memory. You can now install WordPerfect any other DOS application you like. Install from floppies or a CD-ROM (use the help file to figure out how to use floppies or a CD-ROM with Virtual PC), or use the Shared Folder feature (which you can figure out through the help file) to access a folder on your actual physical hard disk.

How to print from a DOS-based Virtual PC setup: You can print from a DOS-based Virtual PC 2007 setup in any of three different ways:

(a) If, and only if, your computer has a built-in parallel (LPT1) port, on the motherboard (not on an add-on card), and you use a standard PostScript or LaserJet printer that is directly connected to your computer by a parallel cable (not through a network, not through a USB-to-parallel converter), you can print from Virtual PC 2007 directly to the parallel port. See the Virtual PC 2007 Help for instructions.

(b) If, and only if, a WordPerfect driver exists for your printer (for example, if your printer is an HP LaserJet that supports PCL5e, or if your printer a PostScript printer), you can use the "PrintFile method" of printing to your printer, as described elsewhere on this site. After setting up this method (and only after setting up this method), use Virtual PC's Shared Folder feature to share your WordPerfect print spool directory (typically C:\WPSPOOL) as drive P: (or some other letter) in your Virtual PC system; select the option to "Share every time." Now, run WordPerfect, install the driver for your printer and change the port for the printer to the filename P:\OUTPUT.PRN. This will send the printfile from WP in the Virtual PC guest to the spool directory on the host that you created when setting up the PrintFile method.

(c) To print to any Windows printer from a DOS-based Virtual PC setup, first install WordPerfect for DOS on your host machine (if you have not yet already done so), and set up this site's automated-installation method of printing to any Windows printer. Run WPDOS on your host machine to see the name of the printer driver that the automated-installation selected. Using the Shared Folder method in Virtual PC, copy the Ghostscript printer driver .ALL file installed by this method (either wp51gscr.all or wp60gscr.all) from your host machine to the WP printer directory in your Virtual PC guest machine. In Virtual PC, use Virtual PC's Shared Folder feature to share the print spool directory set up by the automated installation (typically C:\TEMPWP) as drive P: (or some other letter) in your Virtual PC system; select the option to "Share every time." Now, still in Virtual PC, run WPDOS, and select the same printer driver that was installed by the automated setup on your host machine, and change the port setting for the printer to the filename P:\WPDOS.PS. This will send the printfile from the copy of WP in Virtual PC to the spool directory created by the automated-installation method, and your file should print. Note that this method does not permit envelope-printing or any other printing on non-standard page sizes.

Alternate method: create a Windows 98-based Virtual PC "guest machine" for running WPDOS

Before you begin, you will need a copy of the Windows 98 installation CD. Don't start without one!

You can find many web sites that help you set up a Windows 98 guest machine under Virtual PC; do not ask me to help you. Once you have set up your Windows 98 guest, install WPDOS either from a CD or diskettes in the usual way, by following the procedures described elsewhere on this site.

To share files between the guest and host see the section below on exchanging files. You will probably have more success using Windows Networking to share files than you will with Virtual PC Shared Folders.

To print from the guest machine to a printer connected to your host machine or network, you should use Windows networking. Add the guest Windows 98 to your existing network in exactly the same way you would add a physical computer to your network, and then see the advice elsewhere on this site on printing across a Windows network.

If the Virtual PC Additions are installed in the Windows 98 guest system, you will able to use the Windows clipboard to exchange text between the WPDOS system in the guest and any Windows application in the host by using this site's macros that copy and paste between WPDOS and Windows.

Warning: High-resolution VESA graphics in WPDOS are intolerably slow with this method; standard VGA graphics work well and quickly, but offer much lower resolution than VESA graphics. If you intend to work extensively in WPDOS's graphics mode, use the alternative DOS-based method described elsewhere on this page.

Exchanging files between the "guest" virtual PC and the "host" physical computer

After creating a guest virtual PC, you can exchange files between the guest and host in two different ways: either through the Shared Folder feature or by setting up a network between the guest and host.

Virtual PC Shared Folders: This method is easiest, but tends to be slow, and can cause serious problems when you use a Windows guest (see the "Warning" below). The Shared Folders feature must be enabled in the settings for the guest before you start up the guest machine. After starting the guest, use the Edit menu on the guest, choose Settings, then Shared Folders, and click on Share Folder (or click the folder icon on the toolbar at the foot of the window). In the window in the dialog box, select a folder on the host machine that holds the files you want to use on the guest (or to which you want to save files from the guest machine); at the bottom of the dialog box choose a drive letter that will be used on the guest to represent the shared folder. You should probably choose the Share Every Time option if you want to use this shared folder every time you start the guest machine. The contents of the shared folder on the host will now be visible on the guest as whatever drive letter you selected for use on the guest. Do not place a large number of files in the shared folder, or you will need to wait a very long time to read a directory of the folder in the guest.

Warning about Shared Folders and Windows guest systems: Note that this warning does not apply when you use a DOS-based guest system as recommended above. When you try to open or save files on a Virtual PC Shared Folder from WPDOS 5.1, the directory list may not reflect the actual content of the disk, and the filenames will be incorrect. If this occurs, use Windows Networking instead. If you try to save files on a Virtual PC Shared Folder from WPDOS 6.x, you will see an "End of File" error message in WPDOS, and the file will not be saved; the solution to this problem is to save in WordPerfect 5.1/5.2 format, and this setting can be enabled by default in the Setup options that are accessible from the WPDOS 6.x Save dialog.

Windows Networking: Set up a network between the guest and host machines in exactly the same way you set up a network between two physical machines. I cannot help you to set up a network if you do not already know how to do so! Make certain that you use the same username and password in your account on the host machine and on the guest. Note that network transfers between guest and host machines are slow; do not store large numbers of files in any folders shared between the guest and host. Note that Windows 95, 98 and Me guests will not be able to access shared folders on Windows Vista hosts unless you perform the modifications to the host described in another section of this page.

Networking between a Vista host and a Windows 98 guest

Windows 98 guest machines have no trouble sharing files with Windows XP hosts. However, if you want to access a shared folder on a Windows Vista or Windows 7 host from a Windows 98 guest, you must perform the following steps. (Similar steps are required for Windows 95 or Windows Me guest machines, but I do not recommend using either operating system with WPDOS.)

First, in the Windows 98 guest, make sure that you have installed Internet Explorer 5.5 or later (preferably Internet Explorer 6 and its service packs). Then install the Windows Installer package for Windows 98 (download and run InstMsiA.exe); do not omit this step! Then, only after you have installed the Windows Installer package, install the Active Directory Client extension, which can be found on this page on Microsoft's web site. Find the section on the page headed "Windows 98"; then click "Download the Windows 98 DSClient package now"; save the file and double-click it to install it.

Then, still in the Windows 98SE client, use Start/Run and enter Regedit. When Regedit opens, in the left-hand pane, navigate to  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\LSA. With LSA highlighted in the left pane, choose Edit | New | DWORD Value. In the right pane, replace the highlighted words "New Value #1" with LMCompatibility (no spaces, no quotation marks); press Enter to open the Edit DWORD Value dialog; enter 3 as the value. Click OK; close Regedit. Restart the Windows 98SE guest virtual machine.

Microsoft provides full details of this procedure, in a form suitable for export, on one of its knowledge-base pages.

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