HOW TO: Set up XP Mode in Windows 7

Written by AboKevin on . Posted in Microsoft, Tips, Windows 7;, Windows XP Mode

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In this how-to article I am going through how you can set up and use XP Mode in Windows 7 for solving an application compatibility issue.

First of all; What is XP Mode exactly? XP Mode for Windows 7 is Microsoft’s new and brilliant solution to legacy compatibility. One of Microsoft’s biggest challenges has always been backwards compatibility. Their biggest customers are businesses and selling a huge corporation on the idea of upgrading their OS’s is not an easy task to undertake. Being backwards compatible has thus been important. The problem with this has always been that keeping legacy code around hampers the development of a new and better OS. Windows 95 had to be backwards compatible with Windows 3.11 and thus kept support for 16bit applications around while introducing 32 bit computing to the masses. In Windows 7 Microsoft has not made a clean break with the past, but still keeps legacy code in the OS, but they have – I think – introduced the way to solve this problem for the future; XP Mode. XP Mode is a version of Windows XP running in a virtual machine within Windows 7, but made seamless so that it appears that application are running in Windows 7. In order to run the applications in XP Mode you find them exactly where you would have found them had they been running in 7, you can even pin them to the taskbar, like native Windows 7 applications. This implies that in future versions of Windows, Microsoft may make a clean break with the past and remove redundant legacy code, and solve that particular problem with a solution similar to XP Mode – plain brilliant. In Windows 7 XP Mode is available for people running Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions.

I had thought of testing XP Mode, but had put it off for the time being. Then I encountered serious problems with an application (Elkjøp Fotoservice – a brand specific version of CEWE Fotoservice) in Windows 7. I just could not make this app run in Windows 7. So I decided that it was time to test XP Mode on a real problem…

Installation

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In order to download the RC of Windows XP Mode, head over to this site and follow the instructions there.

NB! It is important to note that in order to run XP Mode you need Windows Virtual PC and that this again requires a CPU with the Intel Virtualization Technology or AMD-V feature turned on. The Microsoft download site for Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode RC provides links to pages where you can check whether your PC is capable of this and whether this feature is turned on or not. I recommend that you perform this check prior to downloading and installing XP Mode.

After downloading the two applications; Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode, you start off by installing them in the reverse order pr Microsoft’s installation guide;

To install Windows Virtual PC RC and Windows XP Mode RC

 

1. Install Windows XP Mode RC:
Double-click WindowsXPMode_nn-NN.exe (where nn-NN is the locale, for example: WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe) and follow the instructions in the wizard to extract and install Windows XP Mode RC.

2. Install Windows Virtual PC RC:
Double-click Windows6.1-KB958559-x86.msu or Windows6.1-KB958559-x64.msu (depending on your architecture).

3. Reboot Windows 7 to complete the installation.

4. To start Windows XP Mode RC Setup:
Click Start, click All Programs, click Windows Virtual PC, and then click Windows XP Mode.

5. Follow the instructions in the wizard to complete Windows XP Mode RC Setup and Configuration. Record the password that is provided during the Setup because it is required to log on to your virtual machine.

Setting up XP Mode

While setting up Windows XP Mode you will be greeted with a tutorial explaining what XP Mode is, as well as an intro to how you install an application. The following screenshots show some of these;

Setting up 

what is xpmode

Step 1

Step 2

Underneath you can see the familiar warning that Windows XP is loading your personal settings.

loading personal settings

And here is the XP desktop ready for first use. Note that you need a separate Anti-Virus application for the XP Mode.

desktopfirsttime

Installing applications is done exactly like you did in XP itself. Here I have double-clicked the .exe file for the Elkjøp Fotoservice.

Installingapplications

Running applications in XP Mode

The really neat thing with XP Mode is that once you have installed your applications in it there is a seamless integration with Windows 7. As you can see from the screenshot beneath I go into the Start menu – All programs – Windows Virtual PC – Windows XP Mode Applications to find my application and can run it from here. As I stated above you can also pin an XP Mode application to the taskbar if you need easy access to it.

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And here is the application running in XP Mode;

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Does it work?

The big question then is; Does it work? Well – yes, it does. But –  do not expect stellar performance. When starting an application in XP Mode it takes quite a while before the application shows up on the desktop, and although this is just my personal experience, I don’t think that the application will run as fast as it would in a native XP environment. But as a solution for having just that particular application that you just have to have run on your Windows 7 system, and you have exhausted all other efforts to make it run, XP Mode works just fine. For me, I could not get the Elkkjøp Fotoservice application to work satisfactory in Windows 7, and after having installed it in XP Mode it is working just fine, and I can once again make and order my Photo books online. That said, I am looking forward to a Windows 7 compatible release of the said application. 

XP Mode is at the time of writing available as a RC download. I expect that the final version of it will be available as a Windows Update for Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise by the time Windows 7 hits the store shelves on 22 October.

Try it out, and tell me what you think.

Windows 7 RC and Windows XP Mode publicly available!

Written by AboKevin on . Posted in Microsoft, RC, Uncategorized, Windows 7;, Windows XP Mode

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OK, so I am a little late in posting this piece of news, but anyway. As of today Windows 7 RC and Windows XP mode is available to the public.

Microsoft states on its Windows 7 site that the RC will be available at least through July and that it will expire on 1 June 2010. Just a little heads up though; From 1 March 2010 the RC will begin shutting down every 2 hours!

If you want the bits you can go to Microsofts Windows 7 download site

On its Windows 7 site Microsoft provides guides on how to get the ISO files, how to mount them on DVDs and how to install the OS. I have written a lenghty guide on how to install the RC as well.

If you want to try out the Windows XP Mode for the RC that one is also available for download. Just a little notification before you do; Make sure that your hardware supports hardware virtualization. Ed Bott has written a great piece on it, with accompanying charts explaining which intel CPUs supports this feature and which ones that doesn’t.

Good Luck!

Windows 7 RC News!

Written by AboKevin on . Posted in Microsoft, RC, Windows 7;, Windows XP Mode

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After being kept in the dark for a long time regarding the RC Microsoft today announced that it will be available for TechNet and MSDN customers on April 30th and publicly available on May 5th.

  • What I really don’t get is this; TechNet and MSDN subscribers are loyal paying customers, paying for the ability to test applications and OS versions, and they (read: we) will get our hands on legal copies of Windows 7 RC on April 30th – in 5 days – whereas the RC is already available through TPB and Mininova bittorrents? Why just not release it to TechNet and MSDN already? Why wait? To encourage illegal downloads?

Microsoft also revealed new functionality that will come to select Windows 7 versions; XP mode. So what is this? Scott Woodgate explains it like this on the Windows blog:

Windows XP Mode is specifically designed to help small businesses move to Windows 7. Windows XP Mode provides you with the flexibility to run many older productivity applications on a Windows 7 based PC.

All you need to do is to install suitable applications directly in Windows XP Mode which is a virtual Windows XP environment running under Windows Virtual PC. The applications will be published to the Windows 7 desktop and then you can run them directly from Windows 7.

Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC are best experienced on your new Windows 7 PC. We will be soon releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate.

WindowsVPC7

Paul Thurrott has been hinting at this for a long time and today he posted a story on it. He and Rafael Rivera has had their hands on a beta of Windows XP Mode and shares some interesting details;

XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site. (That is, it will not be included in the box with Windows 7, but is considered an out-of-band update, like Windows Live Essentials.) XPM works much like today’s Virtual PC products, but with one important exception: As with the enterprise-based MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) product, XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop. Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. (With shortcuts placed in the Start Menu.) That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications (like IE 6) alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop.

Paul has also posted several screenshots of the RC on his SuperSite for Windows.

So what will I do? Wait for the legal bits, or once again head over to Mininova? This time I will wait for the official download. I will do a clean install and I want to make sure that there are no “extras” included in the OS I am installing. It annoys me that I have to wait 5 more days, but – ok.

What are your thoughts about Microsoft letting us wait after the bits have been leaked ?

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