You're not supposed to be able to get XP Mode
without the right version of Win7, but if
you have a valid XP license, it works just fine.
Here's step-by-step instructions on
how to do it, plus tips for a safe, hassle-free install
Windows 7 is already a big hit for Microsoft,
according to market-share tracker Net Applications,
which shows it rising past all the extant versions
of Linux and Windows except Vista and XP
and into fourth place hot on the heels
of the Mac OS X 10.5.
One of its most talked-about features is
a version of XP built right in to some editions,
so it can run in native mode on a virtual machine
all those applications that never made
the leap compatibility with Windows Vista.
Except XP Mode doesn't come
automatically; you have to install it.
And it doesn't come with
all editions of Windows 7.
[ For timely virtualization news and
expert advice on strategy, see
CIO.com's Virtualization Drilldown section. ]
Users running Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise
have to download both XP Mode and Virtual PC,
on which it runs. Those with Home Premium or
Starter are stuck; Virtual PC not only doesn't come
with those editions, Microsoft theoretically
doesn't allow Virtual PC to even run
on anything but Vista, XP or the three
more exalted editions of Windows 7.
That's not to say Virtual PC doesn't run there,
anyway, however. And, fortunately,
the installation procedure is the same
for Virtual PC whether you're licensed
for XP Mode or not.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's new
Windows 7 operating system -- including
hands-on reviews, video tutorials and
advice on enterprise rollouts-- see
CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]
I loaded and ran it on a laptop running 64-bit
Windows 7 Home Premium on an Intel Core
2 Duo with 4GB of memory.
Here's how to get going:
Step 1: Check your Processor
Intel and AMD have both built hooks into
their processors that allow the host and
guest operating system (the virtual machine)
to trade off tasks more smoothly.
Virtual PC will work on chips that don't have
those hooks, but not well. Microsoft provides
a free utility to check your processor. Intel and AMD
have their own utilities as well, if you want
to double check. Intel Processor Identification
Once you know if the silicon supports it, check to see
if your BIOS is set up to use those hooks.
Chances are, for most desktops and laptops,
it's not. Microsoft offers instructions
and links to specific manufacturers here.
Step 2: Download Virtual PC
Microsoft requirements call for a 400 MHz or
above Pentium-compatible processor, 35 MB of disk space
and Windows XP or Vista. There are 32-bit and
64-bit versions; Virtual PC cares about
the difference. The newest version of
Virtual PC supports USB peripherals and
are supposed to be able to support
64-bit operating systems within
the VM as well. Either way, get the right
edition for your machine.
Once you've downloaded the installation package,
launch it and follow instructions. Then click
the Start menu and find Virtual PC. It will launch
a Wizard that offers the choice of opening
an existing virtual PC, creating one with
default settings or will walk you through the process
of configuring one yourself. Pick the latter to do
things like increasing the RAM available to the VM
from the default of 128 MB to a gigabyte, or raise
the default virtual-hard-disk size from 16 GB
to something with enough room for an OS and
any applications you want to run only within the VM.
The whole process takes less time than it
does to install most bits of freeware.
But that's only the configuration, not the VM itself.
Step 4: Launch and Provision
After configuration, the Virtual PC Console
remains onscreen while Virtual PC runs
in the background, taking up about
17 MB of memory just sitting there.
Clicking Start opens a command window
in which Virtual PC uses DHCP to try to
find itself an IP address. If you haven't already
provisioned an operating system image, it will think
about things for a while, then tell you
to go find a proper boot address.
To install the OS from a CD or ISO file, make sure
the window surrounding the VM — the actual VM,
which looks at this point like a DOS window,
not the console you used to set
the configuration — is the active window
on your machine. Then either insert the CD into the drive
or drag your ISO file onto the CD icon in
the Virtual PC command window. If you're loading
the OS from a CD, go to the menu bar
of the VM window, click on CD and tell it
to capture the physical CD drive.
My VM didn't like 64-bit versions of either
Windows 7 or Vista, but was fine with
a 32-bit version of XP Home Edition. The install takes
about as long as it would on a normal hard drive,
but instead of asking what partition of
your hard drive it should live in, it shows
only unpartitioned space on the virtual hard drive
you've already set up.
The install then proceeds normally, within
one window of your PC rather than
taking up the whole thing.
Warning: The VM doesn't know it's not the only
computer on your computer. So when you click
on anything in its window, will capture the cursor and
not let it go again, which would be really
embarrassing if anyone wandered in to see
why you were cursing at your laptop.To free your cursor, hit the right ALT key.
If the VM is running in full-screen mode,
After setup, walk through the configuration screen
and type in a valid Windows key
for the version of the OS you installed.
Step 5: Install Additions
Before you can do anything interesting
you have to install a set of add-ons that allow
Virtual PC to do things like share folders, share
the clipboard and drag-and-drop things
between the VM window and the host OS.
You have to install them separately,
using the VM window, not the Virtual PC Console.
Go to the Menu bar of the VM and click Action,
then pull down to Install or Update
Virtual Machine Additions. It will pop up
a window asking you to confirm,
and then disappear as if you were kidding.
To actually run the installer — which the VM
believes is either a CD or an ISO file — go to
the Start button, then choose Run and navigate
to what would normally be the CD drive,
where you'll find the Additions ISO. Open
the folder appropriate to your host OS and
run the application inside. Then reboot the VM.
Step 6: Load Applications
Like most things virtual, loading applications or
accessing data on the host machine is like
walking across a transparent bridge.
Once you know it's there, it's simple; until
you do, you're stuck.
The bridge in this case is the Shared Folder.
Just as with two physically separate machines,
you can exchange data or applications through
a Shared Folder that both have permission to use.
Create one from the VM window. Click on Edit
in the menu bar, pull down to Settings and look
for the Shared Folders icon toward the bottom.
Choose it, navigate to a folder on the host machine
that you can use to move documents or
application setup files between
your real and virtual machines, and click OK.
The shared folder becomes a network drive
for the VM. To launch applications, click
on Start, Run, and browse to the
"network drive" Z:\ , which retains the name
of the folder itself. Then just launch
the setup for the new application.
That's it. You're done. Well, almost.
Step 7: Stay SafeDon't forget to install all the security updates
for the new OS and install whatever anti-virus
or other security software you have
on the host OS. The VM has to route
all its traffic through your (presumably)
secured host OS, but that doesn't mean
a ZIP file or other potential threat won't get
through and launch on the VM--
A few more warnings and tips from Steve Bass
of the useful and amusing TechBite newsletter,
author of PC Annoyances, and
former columnist for PC World.
- If you defrag your hard drive, exclude
- the humungous swap file the virtual PC creates
- (check Options in your defragger),
- or it will take forever to complete.
- Some virtual PC software — including
- VMWare's — let you save multiple versions
- on your machine; each can gobble gigabytes,
- however. Keep an eye on
- available disk space, especially on a notebook.
- Running Win7, XP and Linux on the same machine
- at the same time is cool, but unless
- your system is a monster, you'll spend
- more time waiting than computing.
- Finished with XP Mode or your Virtual PC
- for now?
- Shut it down to free up system resources
- for the rest of your work.
And another couple of warnings, from Bob Arnson,
who works for Microsoft on its App-V team,
but blogs as his own geek.
- When you launch a VM it still needs
- an operating system and applications,
- which take time to set up the first time around.
- You can clone your main OS with tools
- such as Acronis True Image, but it still takes time
- to do the install.
- Once you have the image, though, taking one
- VM down and launching another if much faster
- than reinstalling an OS or application
- on real hardware.
- The VM isn't a real machine, but it uses
- a real OS, for which you need a license.
- And if you want to connect a
- cloned OS to a domain, you have to use
- a tool like SysReq software distribution utility.
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Sent from Kigali, Rwanda