Installing, Configuring, and Managing Windows XP Mode

Excerpted from Microsoft Official Course 10324A, Implementing and Managing Microsoft Desktop Virtualization

This lesson is part of a five-day,300-level course that provides you with the knowledge and skills to implement and manage desktop virtualization solutions.This course provides an overview of virtualization and the various Microsoft products that you can use to implement and deploy a virtualization solution. The course explains how to configure and manage a MED-V deployment. Then, it describes the procedures for deploying an App-V solution by implementing App-V servers and clients and by sequencing applications. The course then covers the configuration of Remote Desktop Services and Remote App programs. Finally, the course describes the concept of user state virtualization and procedures for configuring the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

This course is intended for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 system and desktop administrators who will manage and implement desktop and application virtualization technologies within their network. This course is offered exclusively by Microsoft Learning Solutions Partners and delivered by Microsoft Certified Trainers.See additional course requirements,the complete syllabus,and upcoming course dates and locations here.

Windows® 7 has introduced a new version of Microsoft® Virtual PC software that supports the creation of virtual machines with various operating systems within same virtual environment. Additionally, Windows 7 includes Windows XP Mode. Windows XP Mode is a benefit of using Windows 7 and Windows Virtual PC. It provides users with a virtual machine that is preconfigured with Windows XP Professional SP3 installed, primarily to support usage of older applications and devices that cannot work with Windows 7. Windows XP Mode supports seamless application integration, which means that you can run applications installed inside the virtual machine in a same way as you run existing applications installed locally on the Windows 7 machine.

This lesson focuses on installing, configuring, and managing Windows XP Mode on Windows 7.

What is Windows XP Mode?

Designed primarily with small businesses in mind, Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 enables a user to install and run Windows XP applications directly from a Windows 7-based PC. With Windows Virtual PC, Windows XP Mode works in Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate, and provides a 32-bit Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 environment that is preloaded on a VHD. Since Windows XP Mode is running inside the Windows Virtual PC environment, the same requirements apply as for other virtual machines that are running inside Windows Virtual PC.


Windows XP Mode Picture

Windows XP Mode is not a part of Windows Virtual PC.You must download it separately from the Microsoft Download Center, and then install it manually. We recommend that you download and install Windows XP Mode first, and then install the Windows Virtual PC environment.


Note: Windows XP Mode is available only for Windows Virtual PC and Windows 7. You cannot use it with Virtual PC 2007.


Using Windows XP Mode is faster and easier than creating your own virtual machine because Windows Virtual PC creates the virtual machine for you, configures it to run Windows XP, and then installs the following:

  • The Integration Components package. These components improve the experience of using a virtual machine by providing features that improve interactions between the virtual machine and the physical computer.
  • Support for virtual applications. This feature requires an update to the guest operating system. In Windows XP Mode, this update is installed by default.

Additionally, since Windows XP Mode is free for Windows 7 users, you do not have to buy separate licenses to run a virtual instance of Windows XP on your Windows 7 machine.


Note: Although some of the features of Windows Virtual PC improve the integration between the host operating system and a guest operating system, such as Windows XP, the operating systems are separate,and you must manage them separately. For example, to receive the maintenance benefits that features and tools such as Windows Update and antivirus programs provide, you must install and run them in the guest operating system.


Windows XP Mode provides users with number of productivity features and benefits, including:

  • Folder integration to allow accessing the hosting Windows 7 disk drives within XP mode.
  • Seamless applications to access the XP mode application in the All Programs menu from the hosting Windows 7 machine.
  • USB support for XP Mode.
  • Clipboard sharing between a hosting Windows 7 machine and XP Mode.
  • Printer redirection for XP Mode.

All of these features are ready to use immediately after you install Windows XP Mode.


Note: The Windows XP virtual machine that is running in Windows XP Mode is networked by default with the hosting Windows 7 machine by using NAT. You can change this in the virtual machine settings.


When you use Windows XP Mode, you should consider that XP mode is, in effect, a virtual machine like the other virtual machines that you create. It means that you can configure most settings for a Windows XP Mode virtual machine,just like you would configure settings on any other virtual machine.

Storage required for running Windows XP Mode

By default, Windows XP Mode uses space on the system drive to store the virtual machine and VHDs.The virtual machine requires two VHDs:

  • A parent VHD. The default location is %system drive%\Program Files \Windows XP Mode. This is the preconfigured default drive inside the Windows XP Mode package, which you download from the Microsoft Download Center.
  • A differencing VHD. By default, Windows XP Mode Setup creates this disk at %system drive%\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines. This disk is specific for each user on the Windows 7 machine that is using Windows XP Mode. For each user, a new differencing disk is created. This enables each user to configure his own Windows XP Mode environment and applications.

Classroom Demonstration: Setting Up Windows XP Mode


Note: If you attend this class at a Microsoft Learning Partner, your instructor will demonstrate Setting Up


Publishing Virtual Applications

If you are running a Windows XP Mode virtual machine as a guest operating system, you can run an application installed in a virtual machine directly from the Start menu of the host operating system. This makes it possible for you to run Windows 7 as the host operating system, and then use existing applications, while avoiding problems that might occur if the applications are not compatible with Windows 7. This method of running an application is called a virtual application.

You can publish and use virtual applications if the guest operating system is Windows XP Professional

Windows Virtual Application picture

Service Pack 3, Windows Vista Enterprise Service Pack 1, Windows Vista Ultimate Service Pack 1, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate. This scenario does not support other operating systems.

When you publish a virtual application to a Windows 7 host operating system, files on the host will be associated with the virtual application if those files are not already associated with an application on the host operating system. If the drive on which the file is stored is shared with the virtual machine, you can double-click the file, and the virtual application will open the file.


Note: The system tray of the host operating system may include icons of programs that are running in a virtual machine. For these programs, the tool tip includes (Remote) to help you identify which programs are running in a virtual machine. If the same program is running in both the host and guest operating systems, the system tray shows two instances of the same icon.


Automatic publishing of virtual applications

For each virtual machine inside Windows Virtual PC that is running a supported operating system, you can configure Automatic Publishing of virtual applications inside the virtual machine to a physical host that is running Windows 7. This means that each application installed inside the virtual machine will appear in the Start Menu of the Windows 7 computer, and will work via seamless integration.

For a Windows-based virtual machine (Windows XP SP3 and newer versions), you need to install the Update for Windows® XP SP3 or above to enable RemoteApp or Update for Windows® Vista SP1 orabove to enable RemoteApp feature inside the virtual machine. Windows XP Mode VHD has this package preinstalled. Also, you need to ensure that auto publishing is enabled in the virtual machine settings. You can verify this by opening the settings for the virtual machine, and then navigating to AutoPublish Setting.

By default, applications installed under the All Users profile are auto published to the Windows 7 host. Therefore, if an application has created its shortcuts in the All Users profile, no action is required from the user. However, there are applications that do not install for the All Users profile, and which are installed for the current user only. In that case, you should copy the application shortcut from the current user profile to the All Users profile so that the application can be published.

Controlling application publishing

Though auto publishing works automatically, with virtually no user intervention required, there are ways in which you can control publishing.

Exclude List

You may want some applications that you install in the guest to remain unpublished to the host’s Start menu. For this purpose, there is a list inside the guest registry called the Exclude List. This list contains full paths of applications that you do not want to publish to the host’s Start menu. The Exclude List is present in the guest registry at HLKM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Virtual Machine\VPCVAppExcludeList.

Manual publishing

Another way you can control the applications that are published to the host Start menu is through manual publishing. In this scenario, the user disables auto publishing, and then takes total control of what is published to the host’s Start menu. This is very useful for IT administrators who want to restrict applications that are published, irrespective of the number of applications that the user installs inside the guest.

Applications that publish to the host Start menu have an entry in the guest registry that the WMI class Win32_TSPublishedApplicationmanages. You can use scripting to manipulate this WMI class to publish, and rescind publication of, applications manually.

Classroom Demonstration: Publishing and Working with Published Applications


Note: If you attend this class at a Microsoft Learning Partner, your instructor will demonstrate how to publish and work with published applications at this point.



Additional Considerations for Implementing Windows XP Mode

After you deploy Windows XP Mode, you can perform additional configuration of the Windows XP virtual machine. Some of most common management tasks and considerations for Windows XP mode are:

Additional Considerations on Virtualization picture

  • Joining Windows XP Mode virtual machine to workgroup or domain. Just like any other computer, this machine can be domain or workgroup member. You do this by using the same procedures as with a physical host. Before doing this, make sure that the virtual machine is connected to your network so that it can access the workgroup or domain. In order for Windows XP Mode machine to have access to the network, you should connect it to your physical adapter.
  • Managing saved credentials. When deploying Windows XP Mode, during its initial setup, you must provide a password for a default user called XPM User. This password is saved, so user is not prompted to enter it when starting the Windows XP Mode virtual machine. This is very convenient, especially when you are using virtual applications.However if you want to clear saved passwords for this or other user accounts, you can do it by using the Settings menu for the virtual machine. You should be aware that this account is a member of the Administrators group.
  • Using Undo Disks. When you are using a Windows XP Mode virtual machine, you can use the Undo Disk option, which is disabled by default. You can enable it by using the Settings menu. This option is useful if you want to revert a virtual machine to its pre-session state.
  • Using antivirus and antispyware protection. Windows XP Mode virtual machine does not have antivirus or antispyware software installed. Since this machine behaves as any other computer on the network, the host machine cannot protect it. Therefore, it is very important to update this machine regularly through Windows Update service and to install antivirus and antispyware software, especially if you are connecting this machine to the Internet.

Lab: Implementing Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode


Note: If you attend this class at a Microsoft Learning Partner, you will have the opportunity to implement a Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, publish an application, and use a published application.


Want more? Attend the full course at a Microsoft Learning Solutions partner near you and learn how to:

  • Plan desktop virtualization scenarios.
  • Implement and configure Windows Virtual PC and the Windows XP mode.
  • Implement Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization.
  • Configure and deploy MED-V images.
  • Manage a MED-V deployment.
  • Implement App-V servers.
  • Plan and deploy Application Virtualization clients.
  • Administer the App-V infrastructure by using the App-V Management Console.
  • Sequence applications for deployment by using the App-V infrastructure or a standalone installation.
  • Configure and use Remote Desktop Services and RemoteApp programs.
  • Implement user state virtualization.
  • Configure and use Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

All Microsoft Official Courses—including this one--are delivered by Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs)—industry-recognized experts—and offered through a network of more than 1,500 Microsoft Certified Partners for Learning Solutions (Learning Solutions partners) in more than 120 countries and regions throughout the world.