Saturday, August 08, 2009

Virtual PC and XP Mode Linkage

As is often the case, not only has it been a very busy week at work, but it has been so on the Webs as well.

I’ve ended up crossing paths with a slew of high-interest topics I follow and my to-blog pile is overflowing.

The morning pre-heat yard-work has been completed with Alvis’s assistance. I have cleaned off the dining room table so I can dual-monitor with the laptop in with the girls.

A community college party with friends is on the schedule for this afternoon, followed by a seafood dinner at a local Houston Ship Channel favorite follows with mom and bro.

So many things to play with and explore…so little time….

  • Windows XP Mode RC Now Available - Windows 7 Team Blog - “Old” news now in blog-o-sphere terms.  However, if you are running Windows 7 versions a new Windows XP Mode Release Candidate is available along with a new Windows Virtual PC Release Candidate .  There are some new features and requirements.  The newly updated Windows XP Mode now works with the RC and RTM versions of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs.  So with the inclusion of “Ultimate” home-users will now have this accessible (if they meet the other stringent hardware requirements). Quoting from the post:

New Features in Windows XP Mode RC

Based on feedback from the Windows XP Mode beta, we’ve made several improvements to the usability of Windows XP Mode for small and medium-sized business users:

  • You can now attach USB devices to Windows XP Mode applications directly from the Windows 7 task-bar. This means your USB devices, such as printers and flash drives, are available to applications running in Windows XP Mode, without the need to go into full screen mode.
  • You can now access Windows XP Mode applications with a “jump-list”. Right click on the Windows XP Mode applications from the Windows 7 task bar to select and open most recently used files.
  • You now have the flexibility of customizing where Windows XP Mode differencing disk files are stored.
  • You can now disable drive sharing between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7 if you do not need that feature.
  • The initial setup now includes a new user tutorial about how to use Windows XP Mode.

  • Windows Virtual PC RC now Available! – Virtual PC Guy blog’s Ben Armstrong expands the list of features even more:

    Granular drive sharing
    In the settings on the virtual machine, you can select specific host computer drives to share with the virtual machine.

    Jump list for virtual applications
    Right clicking on the virtual application icon for Windows XP Mode, on Windows 7 taskbar, displays a jump list that allows one to easily launch virtual applications from the taskbar.

    Faster Windows XP Mode Setup
    Windows XP Mode Setup completes more quickly than in Windows XP Mode Beta.

    Compact differencing disks
    You can compact the differencing disks to decrease the file size.

    Ability to install Windows XP optional components
    Windows XP optional components can be installed in Windows XP Mode RC without prompting for Windows XP media.

    Ability to choose a location to store virtual machine files for Window XP Mode RC
    When you are setting up Windows XP Mode RC, you can choose where to store all virtual machine files for Windows XP Mode RC. The default path is: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines\.

    Option to turn off and discard changes when Undo disk is enabled for a virtual machine
    An additional option is available when you are turning off a virtual machine: Turn off and discard changes. This option will delete the current Undo disk, and turn off the virtual machine.

  • Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode release candidates – Mark Wilson’s blog – Mark points out a few more important things I didn’t notice elsewhere.  He says that you cannot upgrade from the XP Mode beta to the XP Mode RC so you will need to do an uninstall of the beta, then do an install of the RC.  Also, Mark makes the following observation which I thought was very interesting.

“Interestingly, Microsoft is now saying you need an additonal 1GB of RAM for XP Mode (2GB recommended). Of course, you don’t need 1GB of RAM in order to run a copy of Windows XP and a virtual machine manager but that tells you what you might want for any level of performance. In addition to the requirement for hardware that offers virtualisation assistance, this is just one more reason why XP Mode is not a solution for clients looking to sweat their existing hardware assets a while longer… this is purely a software sticking plaster for legacy applications.”


Windows Virtual PC (RC) is the latest Microsoft virtualization technology that allows you to run many productivity applications on a virtual Windows environment, with a single click, directly from a Windows 7-based PC.

For more information about Windows Virtual PC, please visit the Windows Virtual PC website.
Windows Virtual PC supports the following Host and Guest Operating systems

  • Host: Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Enterprise.
  • Guest: Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Professional, Windows Vista Enterprise Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows Vista Ultimate Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows Vista Business Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Enterprise.

Note: Virtual application feature not supported on Windows Vista Business Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows 7 Professional SKU's

Note: Upgrade from Windows Virtual PC Beta to Windows Virtual PC RC is not supported. Uninstall Windows Virtual PC Beta and Windows XP Mode Beta, before installing this RC release. Click here for more information.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7
    Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Enterprise.
    Note: Windows Virtual PC Beta requires Windows 7 RC.
  • Processor: Processor capable of hardware virtualization, with AMD-V™ or Intel® VT turned on in the BIOS.
  • Memory: 2GB of memory recommended.
  • Hard disk requirement: 20MB hard disk space for installing Windows Virtual PC. Additional 15GB of hard disk space per virtual Windows environment recommended.

Also released this past week:

Both of these packages let you to run many Windows XP/Vista productivity applications from Windows 7-based PC using Windows Virtual PC.  Se the download links above for more details on how to “upgrade/install” these newer versions

So what’s the takeaway?

There is still no news of if/ever XP users will see an updated version of Virtual PC 2007 that packs any of the bells and whistles (primarily for me USB support) that the new Virtual PC release does for Windows 7. (Sigh)

You need to have the System RAM to support your Virtual machines…apparently even more than ever.

You still need to have the hardware-based virtualization support on your system/core(s).  If you don’t got dat, you got nothin’ but plain-vanilla Virtual PC 2007 for now and no XP Mode.

I’ve not had the chance to see if DOS-based applications/OS (DOS 6.22) are supported in this new VPC environment, though I suspect they would work generally OK.  Nor have I had a chance to try to fire up some Linux LiveCD blends in it to see what happens.  I suspect it will remain spotty as it is currently under Virtual PC 2007.

--Claus V.

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