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