Using XP Mode Without Windows Virtual PC in Windows 7

If you like and want to use XP Mode but can’t because your PC doesn’t have the hyper-V or AMD-V natively supported on processor level, here are two great options for you. And they both actually work better in certain ways.

Option #1: Using VirtualBox

You may have already tried before or even are using VirtualBox at the moment but do you know that VirtualBox also offers an option that works just like XP Mode in Windows 7.

The feature is called Seamless Mode, and it’s only available once you have the latest Guest Additions installed on your guest virtual machine.

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You can launch the seamless mode by either selecting it from Machine dropdown menu or simply using the shortcut key Host+L, which basically is Right Ctrl+L by default.

Once it’s launched, it minimize the virtual machine window and inserts a Windows XP taskbar (if the virtual machine is running Windows XP) on top of your Windows 7 taskbar. So basically you get two taskbars once the feature is enabled.

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And when I launch the Windows Explorer from Virtual XP, here is what it looks like. It’s actually quite smooth.

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Option #2: Using VMware Player

The latest version of VMware Player 3.0 also has the similar feature but is called Unify which is available only when you have the latest version of VMware Tool installed on the guest machine.

You can launch the Unify mode by clicking Enter Unify from the VM top dropdown menu. And once it’s launched, it minimize the current VMware window and pops up a new start menu right above the Windows 7 start menu. It will auto-hide itself when the VM window is not active but pops up automatically when you hover your mouse over the Windows 7 start menu or hit Ctrl+Shift+U.

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And when I launch Windows Explorer from virtual XP, an XP Windows Explorer window opens up with the XP start menu auto-hided. The red VMware logo at the top window bar indicates that this window is from VMware virtual machine.

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What’s my choice?

Both virtual software don’t require a Virtualization Technology or AMD-V on the processor level so if you stuck with this limitation, these two are awesome alternatives.

My choice is actually going to VMware Player, as it provides a more user friendly interface and interact with both operations more smooth than Virtual PC and VirtualBox. And it supports file drag and drop between host and guest operation system, which isn’t available on both Windows Virtual PC and VirtualBox.

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