The Windows Servicing Guy

Tips and tricks from a Windows support engineer on issues related to servicing

Something I am working on now, Virtual PC 7

Something I am working on now, Virtual PC 7

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Sorry I havent posted in a bit, I was on vacation.

One of the new things I am working on for our guys in support is training on Virtual PC 7.  It does have a little to do with servicing in that the installation for Virtual PC 7 will be shipped as an MSU in its final form.  This means that you can build an image and use the DISM tool to integrate the update into the Win7 WIM and deploy it to your enterprise.

Right now the code is in RC.  Its a very cool product for Windows 7 installations that has some cool features in it, I figured I would talk about two quickly:

  • XP Mode:  This is the feature that I see most talked about right now on newsgroups and other sites.  One thing to note with regards to XP Mode, its not available for all editions of Windows 7.  If you want to use this feature you need to have Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate edition installed.  VPC7 will work with the other editions but this feature will not.  When we as Microsoft speak about XP Mode, its specifically in regards to the download for XPM that we are speaking.  We're not talking about a virtual machine that has had the RAIL QFE installed.  XP Mode is a preactivated Windows XP SP3 virtual machine that allows for installed applications to be intergated into the Start Menu of your Windows 7 installation.  This allows a user to virtualize an application and make it appear as if the application is running locally when it is actually running in the instance of VPC7.  XP Mode offers a lot of options for test scenarios, app compat, etc.
  • USB support:  We've asked for this internally as much as customers have.  We now have USB integrated support for devices including printers, smart cards, etc.  In my testing so far, it works really well and is pretty painless.  The device doesnt even need to be installed in the host machine for this to work properly.  So long as the integration components are installed on the guest and the device has a valid XP driver, it should work properly inside of a virtual machine.

I think this is going to be a really good product for both home users and enterprises.  A couple of caveats to be aware of:

  • It will only install on machines with VT enabled processors, you can check if your processor supports virtualization technology by running a simple app from Intel or AMD.  "Most" new processors support this feature but you need to make sure yours does if you want to use this feature.
  • There is no 64 bit guest support, this is limited to Hyper-V installations on server.
  • This is intended for client installations only, specifically XP SP3, Vista SP2 and Win7 installations.  This doesnt mean that Server virtual machines do not work, 2008 works fine for me, just that we arent targeting the release for the intent of running Server operating systems in them.  With the release of 2008 R2, it obviously doesnt install.

Questions?  Drop them in the comments and I will attempt to answer them for you.

Comments
  • I hate that drag and drop is gone!! Upgrade, eh?

  • You still have it, just in a different way.  If you utilize the integration components, your devices can be shared through the VM and you can easily move data.

  • That's like pulling drag and drop out of Windows and saying you still have a different way of doing things - cut/copy and paste. Microsoft has developed this disease to remove features in newer iterations of its products and it's affecting all the client product teams.

  • I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.  While I dont like everything in the new Virtual PC, I will say that this is one of the features that I actually prefer over the older iterations of the product.  

    I guess its all in the way you use your PC daily.  For me, I prefer to see entire volumes and know that I can pull data from anywhere rather than being segmented to a couple of folders.

  • Could you explain about the decision making behind choosing what hardware to virtualize? For example Virtual PC virtualizes some ancient Intel motherboard (for good reasons no doubt). What amount of work would be required to do a new board with all new devices - say a Core 2 Duo on P31 chipset motherboard? Just curious and I assume that in a few years time Virtual PC won't still be virtualizing the same pre-800 chipset.

  • Drew;

    No idea on this one, but I know who would know and that's Ben: blogs.msdn.com/.../virtual_pc_guy

    You might want to post a comment on his page and I'm sure he can fill you in.

    --Joseph