Windows XP Mode (XPM) allows you to run your Windows XP apps in a virtual environment alongside your Windows 7 apps in the same desktop. It was designed by Microsoft to ease the transition from XP to Windows 7, particularly for small businesses that are reliant on their legacy apps.
Here is a quick screenshot tour from getting Windows XP Mode ready to publishing apps directly into Windows 7. You can click on screenshots for full size view.
Here are the files that are part of the package. The KB Update must be first installed, since it installs Virtual PC into Windows 7. After a reboot, running the VirtualWindowsXP Package will automatically install XP onto a VHD and run it in Virtual PC
Running the VirtualWindowsXP package will first prompt you to enter a password. You "must" enter a password now to properly enable integration features, or else you'd have to do it manually from Control Panel later on. It'd also be a good idea to check the "Remember Credentials" box because you get prompted very often later on if you don't.
The EULA you probably won't read
next a few times, just wait 15 minutes and you're all set. The setup is completely automatic.
Clicking Continue will insert a CD image into XP and allow you to install the tools necessary for the integration features.
It will then install a Driver in your Virtual OS and your Host OS. Setup process doesn't take too long
Let’s take a look at how to publish apps over to Windows 7:
First, you have to create a shortcut of the app you want to transfer over
Right Click the Start menu and select Open All users
Once you're in the All Users folder, open Programs, and drag the corresponding shortcut. Wait for a bit (the screen will flicker), and your app is published!
A new folder is now added into the Start menu under Windows Virtual PC with all your Virtual apps stored inside
When you launch your virtual app, you have to shut down the Virtual PC window. However, the Virtual PC process will still run in the background
virtual environment again. This usually takes 1-2 minutes. Good thing is after you've initialized the environment, opening apps open just as fast as any other app
Who knew we'd live to see IE6 running right beside IE8 in the same desktop
Clicking on the Virtual Machines folder in the Start menu will bring you to this Window to manage your virtual machines. The breadcrumb gives you a few Virtual PC only options.
This is the settings window for a virtual machine. Here you can specify how much RAM you want to allocate (256MB by default), your login credentials, or how you want Virtual PC to access the Net. By default my physical network Adapater (Realtek) was selected but my Virtual Machine wouldn't connect to the Internet unless I chose the Shared NAT option
1.41 GB Memory Usage with Photoshop CS4, Firefox w/ 7 tabs, Task Manager, and the Virtual App open. You definitely should have at least 2GB of RAM before planning to run Windows XP Mode on Windows 7
I have yet to use Windows XP Mode intensively but my first impression of XP Mode is that it is quick and easy to setup. However, I think XPM falls short of usability because it doesn’t deliver a quick way to publish your apps to Windows 7. If MS wants to deliver XPM for convenience purposes, they should have allowed an easy option under the right-click context menu for users to publish their apps, instead of having users go through a repetitive and menial process of publishing apps. They’ve got the easy setup process right but it’s unfinished unless they follow through with the app publishing.
Performance-wise, XPM does not seem to stack up to VMWare in some aspects. Running Counter-Strike 1.6 under XPM would crash the entire application, but on VMWare, it would run in software rendering mode and is playable without any problems. However, running IE6 did not pose any problems at all. Microsoft “did” state however, that Windows XP Mode was not designed for any media or hardware intensive apps.
I do not consider myself in the “Small Business” demographic so I cannot give an entirely accurate opinion or evaluation on the performance of XPM. I can only do so from a usability standpoint as a tech blogger. That being said, I think XPM is performing very well considering its in Beta, but could definitely use a few improvements to make it more convenient to use.