Adding, Removing, and Managing Programs in Windows 7

  • 9/23/2009

Running Legacy Applications in Windows XP Mode

Windows XP Mode is an optional download for the Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7 that consists of a licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3, saved in Virtual Machine Hard Drive Image (.vhd) format. When run in Windows Virtual PC, or another compatible software program, this virtualized installation of Windows XP allows you to run mission-critical applications that might not run satisfactorily in Windows 7. Windows XP Mode is also suitable for developers who need to test applications in older environments without devoting physical hardware to the task. You can, for example, run an older version of Internet Explorer on the same desktop with Internet Explorer 8, or Microsoft Office 2003 alongside Office 2007—feats that would be impossible without the virtualized earlier operating system. Windows XP Mode also comes in handy if you happen to have an older device with a proprietary driver that hasn’t been updated for Windows Vista or Windows 7. If it worked great in Windows XP but doesn’t work in Windows 7, don’t throw it out; install it in Windows XP Mode.

Downloading and Installing Windows XP Mode

Setting up Windows XP Mode requires two free downloads—first is a small download that enables the Windows Virtual PC host program, followed by a separate download that installs, configures, and activates the licensed copy of Windows XP SP3. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to and click Download Windows XP Mode And Windows Virtual PC.

  2. Select your Windows 7 system type (32-bit or 64-bit) and language.

  3. Follow the website’s instructions to download and install Windows Virtual PC, then Windows XP Mode.

  4. Restart your system.

  5. Launch Windows XP Mode by opening the Start menu, choosing All Programs, clicking Windows Virtual PC, and then clicking Windows XP Mode.

  6. Accept the license agreement, then enter a password for the default administrative account:


    If you select Remember Credentials (Recommended) in this dialog box, whenever you launch Windows XP Mode from your Windows 7 desktop or Start menu, you’ll be logged on automatically with the saved credentials.

  7. Allow the setup process to complete, then customize and secure your new Windows XP installation to suit your needs and preferences. If you create additional user accounts, be aware that the system will let you create accounts without passwords but won’t let you log on to those accounts.

Running Windows XP Mode

To launch the virtualized Windows XP environment, open the Start menu, click All Programs, then click the Windows Virtual PC folder. There you’ll find a shortcut for Windows XP Mode. This action launches Windows Virtual PC, which in turn hosts Windows XP Mode. As Figure 5-4 shows, the Windows XP environment appears initially as a window on your Windows 7 desktop.

Figure 5-4

Figure 5-4 Windows XP Mode, shown here running Internet Explorer 6, runs initially as a window on your Windows 7 desktop. You can kick it into full-screen mode with a command on the Action menu.

To turn the full screen over to the virtual environment and remove its own window frame, either maximize it or open the Action menu and choose View Full Screen. In full-screen mode, the menu bar at the top of the Windows XP Mode window appears, in slightly modi-fied form, as a toolbar on the desktop. Click the Restore button on this toolbar to return to windowed display.

To end a Windows XP Mode session, click the Close button on the Windows XP Mode window or its counterpart on the full-screen toolbar. Initially, the virtual environment is configured to hibernate when closed. If that doesn’t suit you, choose Settings, on the Tools menu, then click Close in the Windows XP Mode - Windows Virtual PC Settings dialog box. Options here include Hibernate, Shut Down, Turn Off, and Prompt For Action (see Figure 5-5).

The advantage of hibernating, of course, is that it enables you to restart the XP environment quickly. If you switch to Shut Down, a click of the Close button generates an orderly shut-down sequence, with prompts to save unsaved work. Turn Off, in contrast, simply pulls the plug on the virtual machine—no questions asked. Turn Off might be a little drastic as a default close option, but if you configure the environment to prompt on close, Turn Off is handy for those times when you want an immediate shutdown and have nothing important to save.

Figure 5-5

Figure 5-5 For the sake of speedy restarts, the virtual environment, by default, hibernates when closed.

Installing Applications

Windows Virtual PC is configured by default to share your computer’s optical drives with Windows 7. While the virtual environment is running, AutoRun is disabled. To install an application from a CD or DVD in Windows XP Mode, therefore, run the virtual environment, pop in the disc, open My Computer in Windows XP, and run the application’s setup program.

After you have installed a program in this manner, Windows Virtual PC (in its default con-figuration) publishes that program to Windows 7. Thereafter, you can run it “seamlessly” by launching it from the Windows 7 Start menu. As Figure 5-6 shows, applications installed in Windows XP Mode are given Start-menu shortcuts in the folder Windows XP Mode Applications.

Applications installed in Windows XP Mode and launched from the Windows 7 Start menu run on the Windows 7 desktop, without visible Windows XP Mode paraphernalia. They take longer to launch, because the virtual environment must be initialized. Once launched, however, they cohabit agreeably with your Windows 7 programs (see Figure 5-7).

Figure 5-6

Figure 5-6 Applications installed in Windows XP Mode are published to Windows 7 and can be launched from the Windows 7 Start menu.

Figure 5-7

Figure 5-7 Excel 2002, installed in Windows XP Mode and launched from the Windows 7 Start menu, can share the Windows 7 desktop with Excel 2007, as shown here.

Messages generated by an application running seamlessly also appear on the Windows 7 desktop, identified by the word Remote:


Sharing Data with Windows 7

Whether running seamlessly or housed within a Windows XP Mode frame, applications running in the virtual Windows XP environment share the Clipboard with Windows 7. You can’t drag and drop between the two environments, but you can use ordinary cut and paste procedures to transfer data.

Windows Virtual PC, by default, creates a single virtual hard disk, which appears in the Windows XP My Computer folder as drive C. Your host computer’s own disk resources are identified and are accessible in My Computer as Drive d on computername:


Sharing Devices with Windows 7

Provided the Virtual Windows PC integration features are enabled (as they are, by default), storage devices, including flash drives and other external media, are automatically shared between the virtual environment and Windows 7. Other kinds of USB 2 devices can be used in both environments, but you have to attach them in Windows XP Mode to use them there, then release them to make them available to Windows 7.

To use an unshared USB device in Windows XP Mode, follow these steps:

  1. Attach and turn on the device.

  2. On the Windows Virtual PC USB menu, choose Attach devicename. Windows XP will install a driver if one hasn’t already been installed.

  3. Use the device.

To release the device, making it available to Windows 7, open the USB menu again and choose Release devicename. When a Windows XP Mode program is running in seamless mode, you’ll find the Manage USB Devices option on the Jump List for the program button on the taskbar.

Configuring Windows Virtual PC

Figure 5-5, earlier in this section, illustrated the Windows Virtual PC Settings dialog box, in connection with Close options. Most of the settings in this dialog box, when the dialog box is accessed from within Windows XP Mode, are read-only. To configure other settings, including integration features, close the virtual environment. Then open the Windows 7 Start menu and click All Programs, Windows Virtual PC, Virtual Machines. In the Windows Explorer window that appears, right-click Windows XP Mode and choose Settings.