While Windows XP Mode sounds a good solution for solving the compatibility issue that happens on every major release, there are things we need to be aware of before happily jumping over it.
Knowing the limit
1. Windows XP mode run on the latest Virtual PC release, currently in RC, which requires a computer that has the CPU processor with Intel Virtualization Technology or AMD-V support. And the feature has to be turned on in BIOS.
Check this post if you are not sure whether your computer is XP mode ready.
2. Because it runs off on Virtual PC, it doesn’t have those neat Windows 7 visual features, e.g. snap, and preview. However, you still seem to be able to peek, and do jumplist.
3. Not all Windows 7 editions support XP mode, currently only Professional and Premium edition do.
4. It’s designed for small-medium business. I don’t even recommend using it on an environment that has more than 20 computers. Basically, if you do you are doubling your network size that may increase large amount of work in IT managing them as result.
Be aware of the changes
As mentioned early, XP mode runs off on Virtual PC. However, instead of running naturally on Virtual PC client like previous versions, it runs through RDP client. While it seems to run quite seamlessly that way, there are a few changes that you should be aware of, especially to those who are used to the old way.
5. Different keyboard shortcuts. Alt-Del no longer works to send Ctrl+Alt+Del signal to the guest OS. You need to use Ctrl+Alt+End instead. From now on, if you are a keyboard shortcuts enthusiast, you need to get used to the different keyboard shortcuts set from below.
6. No more file drag and drop between the host and guest OS. Instead, all drivers on host machine are automatically mapped as network drivers in guest machine. So, copying files between them is just the same as copying through network.
7. Because it runs the guest OS through RDP, the Aero theme in Windows 7 and Vista becomes available on guest while it was disabled in previous Virtual PC versions.
What about the Virtual Machines made from previous version?
8. Virtual machines (VHD files) made from previous version are compatible and will not have any problem running on latest version of Virtual PC. However, it will be a good idea completely shutting the VMs down on older version before re-launching it on current version.
9. XP mode works the best with the original VHD image downloaded from Microsoft. It’s possible having the apps from other VHD images published in Windows XP Mode Application menu but that requires some extra steps to do so.
You can actually make your own VHD in XP Mode or even Vista Mode.
I am aware of all these. Now what?
Simple, follow the following instruction and get started.