Windows optimize

Get the most out of Windows XP Mode with these tips

While using Windows XP Mode and Virtual PC is straightforward, there are some tips that you can employ to get the most out of this winning combination.

While Windows 7 has several built-in compatibility features that are designed to allow you to run most Windows XP applications right from within Windows 7, there are other older Windows XP applications that will not run in Windows 7 even with those built-in compatibility features. For these types of applications, Microsoft designed Windows XP Mode for Windows 7.

Installing and using Windows XP Mode is a very straightforward operation. If you have Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate and the CPU and if your PC has the necessary built-in hardware-based virtualization technology, then all you have to do is download and install Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC.

Once you have Windows XP Mode up and running, you can install your XP applications in the Windows XP VM (Virtual Machine) just like you normally would. You'll then be able to launch your XP applications right from the Windows 7 Start menu.

While using Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC is pretty straightforward, there are some tips that you can employ to get the most out of this winning combination. In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll introduce you to some of these tips.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Working with Virtual Applications

By default, applications installed in the Windows XP VM are auto-published to the Windows 7 host. This means that your Windows XP applications appear on Windows 7's Start menu. You can then launch your XP applications without having to first load the Windows XP VM and then launch them from the virtual Windows XP's Start menu.

In order for a Windows XP application to be auto-published to the Windows 7 host, the application must be installed in the All Users profile in the Windows XP VM. However, not all applications are installed in the All Users profile by default.

So, what if the application that you want to be able to run from within Windows 7 isn't auto-published? Or what if an application is auto-published and you really don't want it to be available from within Windows 7? Fortunately, you can take control of the auto-published using a couple of tips.

If the XP application that you want to be able to run from within Windows 7 isn't auto-published, you can force it to be so simply by creating a shortcut to the application in the All Users profile in the Windows XP VM. When you do so, the application will be auto-published to the Windows 7 host.

Access the Windows XP VM, right-click the Start button, and select the Open All Users command. When Windows Explorer launches, open the Programs folder. Once there, you can either drag-and-drop the shortcut from Windows XP's Start menu to the Programs folder or you can launch the Create Shortcut wizard, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

By creating a shortcut to your application in the C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs folder, the application will auto-publish to the Windows 7 Start menu.

If an application is auto-published and you really don't want it to be available from within Windows 7, you can exclude it simply by moving the shortcut from the All Users profile to the XPMUser profile. That way it will still be available in the Windows XP VM but not in Windows 7.

For example, I installed my vintage copy of Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8 in the Windows XP VM and it also showed up on the Windows 7 Start menu, as shown in Figure B. As you can see, not only did Paint Shop Pro 8 show up in Windows 7 Start menu, but so did Animation Shop 3 and the Uninstall Paint Shop Pro 8 utility. Since I really only want to be able to run Paint Shop Pro 8 from within Windows 7, I simply moved the shortcuts from the C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Jasc Sofware folder to the C:\Documents and Settings\XPMUser\Start Menu\Programs folder where I created a new Jasc Sofware folder, as shown in Figure C.

Figure B

XP applications installed in the Windows XP VM show up on the Windows 7 Start menu.

Figure C

By moving shortcuts from the All Users profile to the XPMUser profile, you can remove auto-published applications from the Windows 7 Start menu.

Accessing folders on the host

When you are working in the Windows XP VM, chances are that you'll want to save your data in the Documents folder on the Windows 7 host system. While the built-in Windows XP Mode Integration Features automatically provide you with access to drive C on the host system, you still have to navigate through several layers to get to the Documents folder.

Fortunately, with the help of the old DOS Subst command you can assign the Documents folder, or any folder, on the Windows 7 host system to a drive letter. When you do, that drive letter will appear in the Integration Features' Drive list, where you can see it. Then any time you need to access the Documents folder, you can just access that drive letter.

For example, suppose that you want to assign the My Documents folder to drive letter H? To do so, access a Command Prompt in Windows 7 and type the command:

Subst H: "C:\Users\{your name}\Documents"

where {your name} is your user account name. Be sure to enclose the path in double quotes if {your name} is two separate words with a space in between.

Once you add the drive letter to your Windows 7 host, it will automatically be picked up by the Windows XP Mode Integration Features and you'll find the new drive in My Computer in the Windows XP VM, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Using the Subst command, you assign the Documents folder to a drive letter.

Back up your Windows XP Mode VM

Even though you probably aren't storing any data in your Windows XP Mode VM, chances are that you've put some time and effort into setting it up and configuring it to work the way that you want. As such, you'll definitely want to back up your VM so that you can easily reestablish it in the event of a disaster.

You will need to back up the following files:

  • Virtual Hard Disk/Differencing Disk file C:\Users\{your name}\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines\Windows XP Mode.vhd
  • Parent Disk file C:\Program Files\Windows XP Mode\Windows XP Mode base.vhd
  • Virtual Machine Configuration file C:\Users\{your name}\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines\Windows XP Mode.vmc
  • If the Undo Disks are enabled, you will need to back up the Undo Disks file C:\Users\{your name}\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines\VirtualPCUndo_Windows XP Mode_{#_#_##############}.vud

Before you begin backing up your Windows XP Mode VM files, you will need to shut down Windows XP Mode VM.

You can then copy the files over to your backup media for safe keeping. Should you need to restore the files in the event of a disaster, be sure that you restore the files in the same folders.

Shut down a VM

By default, when you close the Windows XP Mode VM window, the VM goes into hibernation rather than shutting down.

To really shut down the Windows XP Mode VM requires some extra steps.

On the VM Windows's toolbar, click Ctrl+Alt+Del menu item. When you see the Windows Security dialog box, click the Shut Down button. When you see the Shut Down Windows dialog box, select Shut Down and click OK.

What's your take?

Are you running Windows XP Mode? Do you have Windows XP Mode tips or experiences that you would like to share? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

38 comments
javanolan
javanolan

I tried this previously, but it looks like only part of my message posted. I'll try again: Trying to publish XP MS Paint and XP Windows Movie Maker to Windows 7 from XP Mode. XP mode is working correctly and I can run both of these apps from within XP mode, but I can't get them to appear on the W7 start menu. Any thoughts?

javanolan
javanolan

My kid needs to run the XP version of MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker (can't use the Win 7 versions -- don't ask me why). I intalled XP Mode and it works properly. XP Paint and XP WMM also work properly. My problem is that I can't publish XP Paint and XP WMM to Windows 7. I copied the shortcuts into Start --> Computer --> Local Hard Drive --> Documents and Settings --> All Users --> Start Menu --> Programs, but the applications won't publish to W7. Any thoughts? Thanks.

ed
ed

I like it. Using XP Mode, I got my Quickbooks 2005 to finally work properly again (mostly because the IE version is older) as i didn't want to upgrade it due to imcompatible QB versions which would have meant losing all the transaction history. So far so good. Bit of a hassle though to install printers again - no big deal really though. Overall I give it a 10.

Rob C
Rob C

I would prefer that MS provided the ability to run programs as XP compatible (Perhaps they do ?). MS already make their OS's too complex, and also build too much into the core. So encouraging them to add more complexity (VM that is somehow integrated into Win 7), makes me shudder.

sonny2730
sonny2730

cannot install xp mode on win 7 ultimate. get as far a validation page and it goes no farther. How do I continue

asolomon
asolomon

The problem with XP mode in the enterprise is that now users can bring in unmanaged hosts with a vulnerable near obsolete OS onto the network. Since XP Mode machines are not domain members, applications like SCCM will not supply patches, they won't get antivirus protection or group policies applied to them. Is there any way of blocking installation of XP mode in a domain without blocking Windows Virtual PC? Thanks!

Craig_B
Craig_B

I have not really needed to use XP mode as all my apps run in Windows 7 x64 ok. I have configured just the Virtual PC and setup a Win 7 x86 VM for testing software out without messing up my main machine. Yes, this requires two licenses.

maxbialystock
maxbialystock

I am using Windows XP Mode to run my old DayTimer 2000 PIM software, which has records of all my appointments and logged phone calls back to 1995. I am grateful to be able to search those records. For those with a Gigabyte/AMD mob/processor, you may encounter an error message when installing Virtual PC, to the effect that you cannot start one virtualization program while another is running. The message appears even though you have no other virtualization program running. For most, the cure is to update the BIOS to 6f, reactivate virtualization in the BIOS, and then install XP mode.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Does it just launch the virtual PC and then launch the application?

michael.kregel
michael.kregel

How would I go about getting the hyper terminal to be a "published" application. I copied a shortcut to that location which did not put it in the startmenu of Windows 7.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate instead of Windows 7 right at the start, when talking about the XP mode as it is NOT in all versions of Win 7, only the Pro and Ultimate versions - making it a part of only half of the versions Microsoft market around the world. I'm extremely fed up with the people who buy new computers based on the Microshaft advertising that talks about Windows 7 XP mode then find that it is NOT part of the new computer they bought from Dell or HP as the majority of the retail systems for sale in retail shops are only Win 7 Home Premium.

coldrider369
coldrider369

Would not work for me. Had to us a VMWare product

WayneNT
WayneNT

I ended up changing the default behavior for closing XP mode to abandon the changes when I close the Window. That way I didn't have to manually discard from the external interface. It still allows me to select the Ctrl-Alt-Del shutdown method where I can then save my changes whenever I decide to. I found XP mode useful for the Cisco VPN Client, which only runs in 32-bit mode. I knew it would work on XP, and didn't want to chance it on Windows 7 (right or wrong, I felt safer that way). What I don't know is if you can install 32-bit XP mode when you have Windows 7 64-bit running.

giorgos67
giorgos67

If a game doesn't run in 7, it won't run in XP mode either. A better (for games) solution, is running XP in VirtualBox or in classic VirtualPC. I didn't used it for programs, mainly because for the few programs incobatible with 7, I found newer alternatives, rather than maintaining an entire OS, just for a couple of applications.

ralph.bacon
ralph.bacon

Windows XP Mode would not run on my modern Packard Bell laptop. Apparently, not supporting virtualisation is quite common on laptops. So I downloaded Sun's VirtualBox which runs just fine (albeit probably not as efficiently had my laptop been VT enabled). Frankly a single VirtualBox Windows XP VM could be used to run all those peskly programs that W7 has issues with, which is arguably a more efficient solution than XP Mode for each program?

ChipheadÂ
ChipheadÂ

As a systems admin, what I feel I get with XP mode is 2 PC's to support instead of 1. The one app that we're using it for uses windows authentication as part of its login process so they need to be joined to the domain. When joining PC's to our domain I found that you can't use the Shared (NAT) setting in networking if you want to be able to talk to the domain controller (and process Group Policies) using up an IP address. So to sum up I've now got twice as many IP's in use, twice as many PC's in AD, and twice as many PC to keep patched.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Okay, Windows 7 has been around for awhile, is anyone taking advantage of Windows XP Mode for Windows 7? How is it working?

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

That issue affects VMWare also, so I assume it would be a problem with other virtualization technologies as well. I inherited just such a system because of that. He went and bought an Intel box and gave me the AMD box. I haven't needed to run XP Mode on it, but I'll check the BIOS update. Thanks.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...Windows Virtual PC boot up in a paired down mode (No UI) and the app loads in a special VPC window inside Windows 7.

ECarlson
ECarlson

Why not just run Hyper Terminal in Windows 7, instead of inside XP mode? Hyper Terminal works fine in Windows 7.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The 2nd paragraph in the blog post reads: Installing and using Windows XP Mode is a very straightforward operation. If you have Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate and the CPU and if your PC has the necessary built-in hardware-based virtualization technology, then all you have to do is download and install Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC.

ralph.bacon
ralph.bacon

A colleague runs W7 64-bit. He tells me that this accepted his 32-bit drivers (eg for an older printer) just fine and runs all his 32-bit programs. I didn't realise this and wish I'd gone for the 64-bit version now as I have 4Gb RAM, 1Gb of which is never used.

Matthew Chickoree
Matthew Chickoree

Hi, Does anyone know how to share an XP Mode "PC" so that other (domain and local) can also use an XP Mode "PC" created by another user. Also, if this is possible, what are the permissions that need to be modified if users are basic users. Thank you, Matthew.

katscoyote
katscoyote

What I want to know is, has anybody tried running this with other versions of Windows? For instance, to run multiple versions of Office or to run Exchange management tools?

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

My Paint Shop Pro 8.1 runs fine in Vista 64 and Windows 7 64. A real example would have been the Cisco token based VPN software. They don't plan a 64 bit version so you have to run it in a virtual machine.

kyle.rabe
kyle.rabe

I use 32-bit XP mode on Windows 7 Pro 64-bit and find it quite useful. There are many enterprise applications that our company uses that are not officially supported on Windows 7, so if we want the software vendor to provide fixes and help when needed, we have to run the applications in a supported OS (read: XP). I do not use the application-specific launching features described in this article but rather opt for the full VirtualPC XP desktop/VM. Yes, this product requires virtualization technology in the CPU. Many modern systems will have this available, but it is sometimes disabled in BIOS by default (Lenovo ThinkPad T61p, for instance). Other solutions, such as Sun VirtualBox, will work without VT and can be attractive for this reason. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the licensing, though. With the appropriate version of Windows 7 (Pro, Ultimate, or Enterprise), you are entitled to a fully-licensed virtual copy of XP Professional SP3 when you use XP Mode. Unless I am mistaken, you are *not* provided a license to run XP in a different virtualization program. If you choose to use an XP VM in VirtualBox instead of XP Mode / Virtual PC, you are supposed to be paying for the XP license on that VM. All in all, I find XP mode very useful and pretty well done. It does create another machine to maintain since it is a full OS, but when software manufacturers don't provide compatible software, there's not always a lot of choice. I'm glad to have it when it's needed and appreciate that I don't have to have a separate machine or separate XP license just to run software that isn't supported under Windows 7.

coldrider369
coldrider369

I found I coudn't run one of my programs regardless of repeated tries. i finallu installed one of the free VMWare programs Now I can use the program.

verd
verd

Tried it out but I think that just using Virtual PC by its self is much better with more options.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

the retail stores, nor do the sales people tell, nor is the information readily available on the web sites for Dell / HP / etc who are selling the systems. In other words - the advertising says XP mode is available, but the detail about which systems it is or isn't on is NOT easily found by the average retail buyer as they do NOT know to go digging about on the Microsoft web site. If a car company pulled this sort of thing with regards to a car accessory, they'd be in court for false advertising so fast, the executives would still be spinning the next day.

WayneNT
WayneNT

Whether Windows 7 will run 32-bit applications, but whether or not it will allow a download/install of 32-bit XP mode. I don't know of anyone who's tried it.

bwills80
bwills80

Hi Matthew, In order for the Virtual PC to be seen by others on the network you must change the Networking setting on the Virtual Machine. In Win7, click start button, All Programs, Windows Virtual PC folder and Windows Virtual PC. When the folder comes up, click on the Windows XP Mode.vmcx file. At the top Click the "settings" button to bring up the settings dialog box. Click on Networking and change this from "Shared Networking (NAT)" to your local network card. Click OK on the dialog box. Load the virtual machine. Now it looks like a regular machine on the network and acts exactly like a WinXP on the network. Good luck.

Network God
Network God

Cisco is finally answering to their customers on this. Version5.0.07 has "Windows 7 64-bit" support. I'm testing in in my shop.

Cubbybearks31
Cubbybearks31

The only problem with that logic is that people buying a computer from HP, Dell, Best Buy, Wal-Marts, Etc. are home users in the long run whether Windows XP mode will run on their system or not is a mote point since fully 95-98% of these people are A: Not aware that it even exists and B: Not going to use or need it for any real reason at all. Only those of us who are in IT, Development and maybe as the original article explains just slaves to a program we really like going to use something like this, because it is nothing more than running an entire operating system for older non-complient software. Home users are going to be more interested in what can my new system do, not what is my new system compatible with that i may already have unless it's a game which is going to do zero good with XP Mode anyway.

WayneNT
WayneNT

Great to know that combo works

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Win 7 x64, XP Mode x32. Need it for a couple of apps at work. Couyldn't get Netmeeting to work in it though.

katscoyote
katscoyote

I have 32-bit XP mode on 64-bit Windows 7... works fine right out of the box.