Problems with conflicting access to hardware virtualization

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Some of you have reported that if you have VMware & Virtual PC installed on the same system - you see crashes on your system.  Now, it used to be possible to do this with no problems, but that has changed recently.  The cause of this compatibility issue is actually the new hardware virtualization technology in the latest processors.  The way this functionality is designed:

  • Only one program can utilize the hardware virtualization capabilities of the processor.  The first program to access it wins, and effectively locks out other programs.
  • There is no way to detect if someone is already using the hardware virtualization capability of the processor.

Unfortunately this combines to mean that there is no real safe way, today, to run both of these programs on the same computer (if you have hardware virtualization support enabled - if you turn it off in the BIOS - everything should go back to the way it was).


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  • "VMware & Virtual PC installed on the same system" and "there is no real safe way, today, to run both of these programs on the same computer" is not the same thing.

    Do you mean, it is impossible to have both products installed and run only one of them at any moment?

  • I can run both VirtualPC and VMWare workstation on the same PC just fine.  However, my processor does not support hardware virtualization.

  • muryk,

    I believe what Ben means is that you cannot RUN both at the same time.  Having them installed doesn't cause a problem, only when you try to run a VM from both VPC and VMWare at the same time.

    I am able to run either alone, but not together.

  • What if we disable h/w virtualization in VPC alone? Then can we run VMware (with h/w virt) and VPC (without h/w virt) simultaneously?

    I don't have a VMware license, that's why I'm asking instead of posting my findings here :) Neither do I have h/w virtualization :))

  • Steve,

    Yes, probably so. Thank you for reply

  • Yes -

    If you only run one at a time, then it is fine.  It is also fine if you do not have hardware virtualization support in your hardware.



  • I seem to recall a proposed malware attack called Blue Pill. It relied on the HW virtualization capabilities of a processor. If only one program can utilize the virtualization capability at a time, wouldn't that be an excellent method of detecting it?

  • Just to be sure I disabled VMWare services and configured them to manual start. That done, I am able to run Virtual PC with no visible glitches...

  • There is another problem with VPC2007. If you have VPC2007 and VMWare installed on the same PC, trying to start VPC will say "Insufficent memory to start", even if your assigned memory amount to VPC is 64M and host free memory is 700M. So this is definitely not resources problem, but VMWare installation on the same PC problem. As on the same VPC2007 runs on WindowsXP host correctly, when VMWare is not installed. This issue applies only to VPC2007. VPC2004 runs correctly with VMWare installed.

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Problems with conflicting access to hardware virtualization