Publish and use virtual applications

Applies To: Windows 7

If you are running certain versions of Windows 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 use existing applications, while avoiding problems that might occur if the applications are not compatible with Windows 7. When you use this method to run an application, it is referred to as a virtual application. You can publish and use virtual applications if the guest operating system is Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3, Windows Vista Enterprise Service Pack 1, Windows Vista Ultimate Service Pack 1, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate.

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 that the file is stored on is shared with the virtual machine, you can double-click the file and the virtual application will open the file. For information about sharing drives, see Share host drives with a virtual machine.

The system tray of the host operating system may include icons of programs running in a virtual machine. For these programs, the tooltip 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.

If you are not using Windows XP Mode, review the following requirements to make sure that the virtual machine is configured to use this feature. (Windows XP Mode is automatically configured with these requirements.)

Business productivity applications that run on Windows XP are appropriate for this feature. However, Windows Virtual PC does not support applications that require 3D graphics, which means that consumer applications such as games are not appropriate for use as virtual applications.

For information about managing virtual applications, such as restricting the types of applications that can be published, see the Windows Virtual PC content in the Windows 7 Technical Library (

To publish a virtual machine application to Windows 7

  1. Open the virtual machine, if it is not already running. From the Virtual Machines folder, right-click the name of the virtual machine and click Open.

  2. Install the application in the virtual machine. For example, to install the application from a CD or DVD drive, insert the media in the drive. If the Autorun window appears in the host operating system, close the window. In the guest operating system, navigate to the DVD drive and start the setup.

  3. After the installation completes, log off from the guest operating system and close the virtual machine.

  4. Open the application from the host operating system. From the Windows 7 Start menu, click All Programs, click Windows Virtual PC, and then click the name of the application, below the name of the virtual machine.

  5. After a few seconds, the application opens. (If you have not saved credentials for the virtual machine, you will be prompted to enter the credentials before the application opens.)


Some applications do not install a short cut to the Start menu. In this case, you can add the short cut manually. In the guest operating system, drag and drop the shortcut from the folder where the executable file is stored to the Start Menu folder that is accessible to all users. For example, in Windows XP, copy the shortcut to %systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs.

  1. If the host desktop and Documents folder are shared with the virtual machine, you can save documents to those locations from the virtual application. Choose the Save option, and the application will list the storage locations available on the host operating system, such as the Documents folder. For more information, see Share host drives with a virtual machine.


If you want to use an application installed in a virtual machine from the desktop of the host operating system, the virtual machine must be closed.

See Also


Windows Virtual PC Help
Configuring a virtual machine
About integration features