Windows 7 XP Mode

The primary reason that I installed Windows 7 RC on my desktop was to try out what is called XP Mode. I read some articles about XP Mode and it looked like it is just a virtual machine created with Virtual PC; however, some things sounded a lot better that my understanding about Virtual PC.

I immediately see about 3 problems running a Windows XP virtual machine on top of Windows 7. First of all, system requirement for running a vm. Some systems may have enough power to run, some may not, considering vms need their own security suites/antivirus/antispyware software. Second, XP license for virtual machine activation. Third, file/desktop sharing between host and guest system because this may be very confusing for non-technical users when there are 2 different desktops.

I downloaded Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode from Microsoft and installed them. It seems that Windows Virtual PC is main application and Windows XP Mode is a virtual machine image. Once they are installed, short cut for Virtual Windows XP is created in Start Menu. 

First, since my system meets minimum requirement for running XP Mode, I was not concerned much; however, it is specifically mentioned that VT has to be enabled in BIOS with processor chip with VT support.  Since I know my processor has VT support but BIOS does not have VT enable switch, I was a bit concerned.  However, XP Mode runs just fine, so I think systems with processors with VT support is required but BIOS setting may not be required as long as it is not locked in lock bit. System performance was pretty much the same as my virtualbox virtual machines.

Second, it looks like XP Mode image is an activated license copy of Windows XP which is provided with Windows 7 certain editions.  Therefore, this was not an issue, as long as users pick the right editions.

Third, when applications are installed in Windows XP VM, it creates shortcuts in Windows 7’s Start Menu.  When these shortcuts are clicked, virtual machine gets started at the background without showing up.  Then, its application runs on the virtual machine but shows itself in Windows 7’s GUI environment, which was a very interesting approarch.  So to users, it just runs as if it is a native Windows 7 application.  This eliminates my third concern; however, it introduces other issues, which were users have to know to run the VM and install applications on that VM but run them from Windows 7. 

In conclusion, it is an interesting solution for Windows 7 and Vista’s backward compatibility for XP applications but there are some advantages and disadvantages.  It will be quite interesting to see how this functionality helps Windows 7 migration.

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