Virtual Windows XP / Windows XP Mode


Virtual Windows XP or Windows XP Mode is a new free separate install feature for Windows 7 that gives you a full Windows XP environment running as a virtual machine on your Windows 7. This feature enables you to launch the applications you install on Virtual Windows XP into your Windows 7 desktop.

To get the thing working you need to download two installation files:

1. Windows Virtual PC (KB958559) – Avaliable in x86 (Windows6.1-KB958559-x86.msu) and x64 (Windows6.1-KB958559-x64.msu). This is the Windows Virtual PC Installer.

2. Virtual Windows XP – (VirtualWindowsXP.msi).  This is the Virtual Windows XP installer.

All Downloads Are avaliable from Windows Virtual PC Download page.

After you install these two files (first the Windows Virtual PC and then the Virtual Windows XP), you will see new folders under Windows Virtual PC in the Start Menu: Virtual Windows XP and Virtual Windows XP Applications.

Virtual Windows XP

Hitting the Virtual Windows XP icon will launch, after few short steps,  the Virtual Windows XP environment:

Virtual Windows XP - Initialize 1

          Virtual Windows XP - Initialize 2 

                      Virtual Windows XP - Initialize 3

Virtual Windows XP - Windows 7

What you are probably saying right now is that this is simply a Windows XP Virtual Machine installed on Windows 7 with a virtualization application, in that case, Windows Virtual PC. Well, you are mostly right, but this Windows XP functionality is far more than a VM running on a host.

As you can remember, one of Windows Vista problems when it was just RTM, was application compatibility. It took some time for applications to support Windows Vista and it was probably one of the reasons that it took a while for Vista to go into mainstream… Now, after they learned the lesson, Microsoft provide a free Windows XP environment for Windows 7 that lets you publish the applications you install on Virtual Windows XP into your Windows 7 desktop.

The reason for this is that Microsoft wants the migration to Windows 7 will be easier and quicker for both home and business users who are running application that are only supported on Windows XP or for users who need to run multiple versions of the same application simultaneously.

Here are few examples:

You can run both Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 8 (IE6 is actually installed on Virtual Windows XP, IE8 is on Windows 7):

Virtual Windows XP - IE8 and IE6

Or, even more cool thing is running different versions of the same application in different languages, like I did with Word 2007 (in English, installed on Windows 7) and Word 2003 (in Hebrew, installed on Virtual Windows XP):

Virtual Windows XP - Office 2003 and Office 2007

Another cool thins is that you get the notifications from the Virtual Windows XP to your Windows 7, like the one I got with the Antivirus not installed:

Virtual Windows XP - Remote Notification

So, how it works?

Basically, when you install an application and you choose to install it to All Users, the application is automatically published to your Windows 7 under Virtual Windows XP Application folder in the Start Menu. So if I install Office 2003 in Virtual Windows XP it will look like that in Windows 7 Start Menu:

Virtual Windows XP - Start Menu Office

With Internet Explorer 6, which is already installed in Virtual Windows XP, I simply dragged Internet Explorer shortcut icon to the All Users Programs folder. If you check the settings of Virtual Windows XP, you will see it is configured to Auto Publish Virtual Applications and it also mentioned that dragging a shortcut to the Start Menu, will publish the application to Windows 7 desktop.

Virtual Windows XP - Settings Marked

Dragging the Internet Explorer icon to the All Users folder did work, but dragging Paint, Calculator and other built-in application didn’t do the trick, maybe just for, still investigating…

Another application I tested, was CheckPoint VPN Client – Secure Remote. As for today, there is no x64 version of Secure Remote. I’m running Windows 7 RC x64 so it’s a bit of a problem. After I installed Secure Remote in Virtual Windows XP, I got a shortcut under Virtual Windows XP Applications and I was able to configure and connect to a site from Windows 7:

Virtual Windows XP - Start Menu SecureRemote Virtual Windows XP - SecureRemote

I thought for a minute that I can launch Remote Desktop from Windows 7 and connect  to a server residing at the site I connected to, but unfortunately it didn’t work and I was not able to publish Remote Desktop from Virtual Windows XP to Windows 7… 🙁

According to Microsoft Windows Virtual PC Page, (Under Support > Requirements) you will see that Virtual Applications feature is also supported on Windows Vista (Enterprise and Ultimate) and Windows 7 (Enterprise and Ultimate). Didn’t test it yet…

So, Virtual Windows XP is still in his dippers, but I’m pretty sure that this new feature will be fully functional and will have a lot more capabilities when Windows 7 goes RTM.

For more information about Virtual Windows XP you should read the following posts:

Rafael Rivera’s Blog – Secret No More: Revealing Windows XP Mode for Windows 7

Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows – Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 Preview

Have Fun!

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  1. Rben05/05/2009 ב 21:14

    Using the x64 bits, I do not seem to get the Virtual XP Applications folder!
    I may have done something wrong.

  2. Rben05/05/2009 ב 22:29

    Nevermind… Just Disable/Enable Auto publish in the VM… et voila!

  3. Avi Samocha05/05/2009 ב 23:31

    Just saw your comment…
    Glad it works! 😉

  4. Daniel12/06/2009 ב 7:34

    Thanks for article. However, for some reason it didn’t work for me.
    I installed both “Windows Virtual PC” and “Virtual Windows XB” for 32bit. The first one installed correctly, the second one gives me an error saying it can not run the program (even if it is a msi file type!)
    I tried several times without luck. I do get the “Windows Virtual PC” in Programs menu but when I click on the “Virtual Windows XB” it said it needs to download it, I agreed, then it went to download the 41MB file, but failes to run it after that saying there is a problem! Did that 4 times.

    What did I do wrong?



  5. Avi Samocha14/06/2009 ב 22:25

    Hi Daniel,

    After reading your first comment, I thought that was the problem (Sorry I didn’t have the time to respond before the second one…).
    The Virtual Windows XP is a full customized Windows XP, so it’s not possible to be only 41 MB…

    Glad it works now!