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I am a database software developer and have an old PC running XP Pro with 5 years' worth of software installed on it, including Visual Studio and SQL Server and Oracle, and years of patches, and I am hoping to find a way to automagically bring that hard drive, or all of its contents, intact, into a new more powerful machine, and have that machine boot up so I run my programs as if nothing at all has changed. It will just be faster and have better video capabilities.

I just read on the VMWare site that it's possible to create an ISO image of my PC's disk, and bring that ISO image into VMWare as a hosted O/S instance. There's also an article here:

VMware - Create VM out of a current desktop

This seems just too good to be true! Aren't there going to be some "HAL Hell" issues? Will I have to spend time telling VMWare what hardware it needs to emulate? Or is all of this completely transparent?

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You can use VMWare Converter to make the current hard drive into a VM. That takes care of all of the driver/hardware changes that happen. If you're doing it for better video performance, though, you might be disappointed. VMs typically perform poorly in video-intensive tasks compared to running it natively.

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I need to play and edit some HDvideo shot at 720p/60fps and my 5-year-old PC doesn't render it smoothly--almost but not quite. Is the performance hit from the virtualization like going back in CPU-time 5 years? Or is it possible I'd see an improvement compared to my old machine? –  Tim Sep 15 '11 at 16:47
    
The video drivers are obscured from the hardware when an OS is virtualized. Since the VM (in most cases) doesn't have direct access to the card, there is abysmal video performance. Without testing, there's no way that I can answer your additional question. You'll have to install it and see. –  MDMarra Sep 15 '11 at 17:14
    
Thanks for the clarification. "Abysmal" :-) –  Tim Sep 15 '11 at 17:31
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