Windows XP Mode for dummies

Windows XP Mode for dummies

Summary: Windows XP Mode is very much like an East London hooker: sure, they work really hard but they aren't very good to look at. Windows XP Mode does indeed work extremely well, but doesn't always look very pretty.


Windows XP Mode is very much like an East London hooker: sure, they work really hard but they aren't very good to look at. Windows XP Mode does indeed work extremely well, but doesn't always look very pretty. Considering Windows 7 is all about the eye candy, at least this makes up the equilibrium somewhat.

To put it simply (as possible, it's not easy), Windows 7 runs as your main, host operating system. You have the option of having a virtual, free copy of Windows XP silently running in the background. This can be called upon when you have an application which doesn't work in Windows 7.

And instead of fiddly compatibility tools that may or may not work with your old application, you can run it using your virtual copy of Windows XP. The application then runs seamlessly as if it was running in Windows 7, but is actually being projected onto your screen from the virtual Windows XP copy in the background.

See, not too bad of an explanation, really?

To break it down a little further so you can see what is going on, imagine the same projection analogy. Windows XP Mode simply allows older or legacy applications to be projected from the behind-the-scenes Windows XP copy onto your Windows 7 desktop. You don't actually see anything of Windows XP except the blue user interface you are all used to, so it's not like you have to physically manage two operating systems.

First off, you better make sure that your Windows 7 version can support it. If you have downloaded the release candidate, you're running Ultimate which will work just fine. You start off by downloading and installing Windows Virtual PC, which is the new virtual environment optimised perfectly for Windows 7, and the Windows XP components, which is essentially a fully configured copy of Windows XP. After installation, you need to set up your virtual machine, and your virtual Windows XP is only a double click away from the Start menu.

While this may sound a bit out of your league, it really is easy to set up. Microsoft are aware that this will be a fantastic solution to many of the compatibility issues and has adjusted the setup to be easy to read and very user friendly.

Once you are set up, you will go through a number of options, similar to an ordinary Windows XP setup. After all this, your virtual Windows XP desktop will be displayed to you. There's no need for activation because it simply doesn't need it.

What isn't made very clear is how to virtualise your legacy applications to run in your virtual Windows XP machine, but be accessible from Windows 7. It's relatively simple once you find the documentation. Simply install the legacy applications which don't work on Windows 7 to your virtual Windows XP machine, and they will magically appear in your Windows 7 Start menu once you have closed the virtual machine down.

Once you select an application to open, your virtual machine will be closed down. This is perfectly normal and how it should operate, so don't panic when you see your virtual machine initialised.

After this point, you will most likely start to feel more confident in what is going on; I most certainly did. You will notice a few changes to how your applications work. Each application which is running in Windows XP Mode has the same icon with an added smaller icon to tell you of the fact. Also, tooltips remind you by adding (Remote) after the application's name.

From here, you will notice your legacy applications running seamlessly in Windows 7 but with a Windows XP theme. It really is fantastic to use once you get going.

For those familiar with the administration console in Windows Home Server, this is the same technology being used. You can access the Windows Home Server administration console from any Windows machine, and in its own dedicated window, and shows nothing other than the console - even though the rest of the operating system is running left, right, center and behind the console.

Again, it works entirely on a projection principle which is why when you shake the virtualised application around on your desktop quickly, you see the projector screen - the blue bit around the application.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the TalkBack section and I'll give answering them a go. Remember, I may well be able to explain Windows XP Mode, but I can't solve the world's problems and most certainly not the more colourful ones you throw me.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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  • XP is lame.

    XP sucks. It's old, the software that runs on it is old. There are too many new features it does not have. If your in I.T. and you don't want to upgrade - too bad. Find a different career. Technology changes. No dinosaurs.
    • I work in IT

      Its not all about the features. Do you work in IT? I am guessing no, but some large organizations have old management systems that have software clients that need to be installed to connect to those systems. In fact my organization is in the same boat. Many of those clients are 16bit and will not run on Vista or Windows 7 and this could be helpful for little things like that. We are in the process of updating our Human Resources and Business Management/Payroll systems so those will be fine. But our student management system is almost 25 years old by design and despite its updates still needs an old client to connect to the Unix interface (according to the person that designed it of course). It is this reason we are thinking of migrating to a more modern system but that takes money and time to get the old data into the new system and so on. For the home user and some businesses there will be no need for this but it could be helpful to some to help ease the transition for their other systems. If you worked in IT you would know that.
    • This is exactly the kind of thinking...

      That brings 30,000 user companies to their knee's.

    • Welcome, Mr. Ballmer!

      Welcome to the forums, Steve, and congrats on your first post!

    • Some of us live in the real world

      In business, upgrading the software on every computer every time a new operating system (or other software) is launched would be financial suicide for many businesses. Also, release of a new version of ANY software may omit features vital to a business. For example, when Visual Basic 6.0 was launched, we upgraded from VB5 because it was an improvement (our in-house custom software is written in VB). However, when VB.NET was launched it was impossible for us to upgrade because VB.NET had no support for COM ports and our entire business relied on communications via COM ports. So we were stuck with VB6. Yes, I know that communications support was subsequently added to VB.NET but the language is so different from VB6 that porting applications from VB6 to VB.NET means rewriting them from scratch. The custom programs we use and maintain run RELIABLY and keep the business going. Here I must mention that reliability is a vital feature of many IT systems and newly launched software is invariably less reliable than older well-proven software. The software is only a means to an end. Why change the means if the end remains the same?
    • And you're how old? Maybe 13?

      Or is that your IQ?
    • Blindly, stupidly, arrogantly Lame

      I presume you work for your self, don't work, or work for Government. Out in the real world we have legacy apps that cost money to change, and until the project to cchange them gets to the top of the pile in terms of ROI, business imperatives or whatever, we are stuck with them. That's why we swarm with some great people from India who are working in techmologies, languages and Operating systems that make XP truly look like rocket science.

      That's a fact. If you can't stand the real world stay in your rich padded cosy environment and continue to be a merchant banker (Cockney RS).
  • Refund for Conficker

    Will MS offer a $9 billion dollar refund?
    • Refund for what?

      Because somebody illegally exploited Windows? C'mon now. That happens to a lot of software hence why there are security patches and updates for every OS and every software program out there. No software maker is immune. Apple releases security updates for its OS and its softwares like iTunes and Quicktime. More people were harmed by the Quicktime and Flash Vulnerabilities of recent past than Conficker. You are seriously dilusioned.
    • That has what to do with this article? n/t

      • Nothing

        He is just one of those that wants to blame a company like microsoft for the problems in the world. Because Windows is the most attacked OS when it comes to malware and such it automatically assumes that they purposely leave security flaws in their products.
    • This troll

      Just look at all the posts of this troll, the same ****. Get a life, idiot
  • How do you know so much about E. London hookers? (nt) :-)

    • He looked it up onWikipedia. (nt) ;)

      • or Craigslist (nt) ;)

        Loverock Davidson
    • oh lord, i actually bursted out laughing at the title

      thats a good question.

      funny enough I emailed the first paragraph containing the East London hooker comparison to XP, to my friend, and she said she will email it to her East London friends.

      yea, how do you know so much? :)
      • Worked in London for a while

        You get to learn the ropes of the city really quite quickly...
    • what does "(nt)" mean in this context?

      Question from newby. What does "(nt)" mean in this context?
      • what does "(nt)" mean in this context?

        It means no text
        • Oh, "no text". Thanks. (nt)