Windows Virtual PC & Windows XP Mode – Release Candidate Review

27/08/2009

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Recently, Microsoft released an RC version of Windows Virtual PC and Virtual Windows XP, Now called Windows XP Mode.

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 Windows XP Mode from your Windows 7 desktop.

I covered the Beta version a few month ago when it was just released, so if you are not familiar with Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, you should read this post first.

And now, lets see what changed since the Beta version.

Install

The install is pretty much the same as in the Beta version. After downloading the two files needed for Windows XP Mode (Windows Virtual PC update KB958559, Windows XP Mode Package) you’ll need to install Windows Virtual PC first and then the Windows XP Mode package.

The install is quiet simple. Windows Virtual PC is installed as an update and the installation is done after few clicks.

 Windows Virtual PC Installed as an Update Windows Virtual PC Install Progress

After installing Windows Virtual PC (which requires a restart) you can start the Windows XP Mode Installation. During the install process you can watch an updated tutorial on how to use Windows XP Mode. The install is the same as in the beta version and when it finishes, you got a full functional Windows XP.

 Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup Windows XP Mode Setup

Windows XP Mode Desktop

 

Installing Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode creates a new program in the start menu. As I mentioned earlier, in the Beta release, Windows XP was called Virtual Windows XP, and now its Windows XP Mode, as you can see in the following screenshots:

        Windows XP Mode Release Candidate                                        Virtual Windows XP Beta

Windows XP Mode RC - Start Menu    Virtual Windows XP Beta - Start Menu

 

Management

As in the Beta version, Windows Virtual PC does not have a Management Console and the Virtual Machines management is integrated with Windows Explorer. When you click Windows Virtual PC in Start Menu, the following window opens, giving you tools in the upper side of the window to manage your Virtual Machines:

Windows Virtual PC Window

Regarding Hard Disks management, there is an option now to create a new virtual hard disk or modify the location of existing one. Windows XP Mode VHD’s are installed by default to your C drive, something I personally don’t like… so after installing Windows XP Mode my first step is to shutdown the VM, move all files (VHD,VMC,…) to a different partition, modify the location in Windows Virtual PC and start the machine.

 Windows XP Mode - Hard Disks Management

The Integration Features has improved and now you can select the drives that you want Windows XP to connect to.

      Integration Features – Windows XP Mode (RC)                  Integration Features – Virtual Windows XP (Beta)

Windows XP Mode RC - Integration Features       Virtual Windows XP Beta - Integration Features

All other components in the Integration Features are the same.

Integration with Windows 7

Windows Virtual PC RC and Windows XP Mode now have better integration with Windows 7. If you’ll hover over Windows Virtual PC in Start Menu, or right click the Taskbar Icon, you will see an option to manage Virtual Machines and view the latest Virtual Machines used.

 Windows Virtual PC - Start Menu in Windows 7 Windows Virtual PC - Jump List Windows 7

Auto Publish

When I covered the beta version of Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, I demonstrated how you can run on your Windows 7 two versions of Microsoft Office and how you get remote alerts on Windows 7 Desktop from the Virtual Machine.

The Publish Application engine, which can be disabled through the virtual machine settings, is the same, with no new features. Applications that are installed to All Users will be available under Windows XP Mode Applications in the Start Menu. Another option is dragging an application shortcut to the All Users folder or the Start Menu which work for some applications, like Internet Explorer.

Windows Virtual PC - Auto Publish

 

The way to RTM…

As you can see, there are no major changes from the Beta version except a better integration with Windows 7 and a few improvements to the Virtual Machine Settings. Microsoft did not mentioned an RTM release date but I can assume it will take no more the 6 month for Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode to go RTM.

For additional reading, check Windows 7 Team Blog announcement for Windows XP Mode and Windows XP Mode / Windows Virtual PC Home Page

If there’s something you’ll like to see in the RTM version, feel free to comment.

Enjoy!

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