In order to get my virtual host setup working with xampp under windows vista,
I had to add this to my virtual hosts file (c:\xampp\apache\conf\extra\httpd-vhosts.conf):

< VirtualHost >
DocumentRoot C:/xampp/htdocs
ServerName localhost

after that I could then add other virtual hosts like so:

< VirtualHost alive >
ServerName alive
DocumentRoot "c:\www"
< Directory "c:\www" >
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
allow from all
</ Directory >
ErrorLog logs/www_error.log
LogLevel warn
CustomLog logs/www_error.log combined
</ VirtualHost >

and of course also need to change the windows hosts file and add this line: alive.localdomain