With the release of the XP Mode Release Candidate, there has been a lot of talk and confusion around when XP Mode is a ideal solution and when you should look at Med-V as a solution . I thought I would take a few minutes to clear up any confusion.

Well, let me start with actually talking a bit about [Windows] XP Mode. 

We introduced Windows Virtual PC in Windows 7 with new capabilities, such as support for USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices, and seamlessly integrating the Virtual PC applications into the Windows 7 desktop and making them available for the users from the start menu.  Windows XP Mode is just a preconfigured Windows XP virtual image and it is available for any user that has Windows 7 Pro [Professional] and above.  The whole Windows XP Mode is specifically designed to help small business users run Windows XP application on Windows 7 in case that the application would not run on a Windows 7 operating system. 

However, you ask why people need something beyond that, then with [Windows] XP Mode, users are required to setup their Windows XP applications themselves.  I mean each physical PC has its own virtual Windows XP environment and is controlled and managed by the end-user.  It is not designed for IT environments or centrally managed deployments.  And this is exactly where you need MED-V.  MED-V adds everything that is required to support the larger deployments of [Windows] XP Mode.  It includes the provisioning of an IT configured virtual machine, customizing the specific XP environments on the end-devices to connect to the [Microsoft] Active Directory® domain and to adjust the settings of the

Virtual PC to the specific parameters of the device.  So it adjusts them according to the network setting of the device, according to the amount of memory available, and other settings on the PC.  Finally, MED-V will also offer monitoring and troubleshooting for all those Virtual PC deployed in the environment.

So here are some breakdowns to answer common questions

What is Windows XP Mode, Windows Virtual PC and MED-V?

  • Windows Virtual PC is a type II hypervisor in Windows 7 – i.e. it enables users to run multiple instances of Windows on a single device.
  • Windows XP Mode leverages Windows Virtual PC and a preconfigured Windows XP image to create a virtual Windows XP environment
  • MED-V is the management layer for IT professionals on top of Virtual PC.
  • Windows XP Mode does not replace MED-V.

The breakdown

Windows XP Mode is specifically designed to help small businesses users to run their Windows XP applications on their Windows 7 desktop.

  • Windows XP Mode is available as part of Windows 7 Professional , Ultimate and Enterprise.
  • Windows Virtual PC will enable users to launch many older applications seamlessly in a virtual Windows XP environment from the Windows 7 start menu
  • Windows Virtual PC includes support for USB devices and is based on a new core that includes multi-threading support
  • Windows XP Mode is best experienced on new PCs from OEMs but will also be available for customers as a separate download.

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) is designed for IT Professionals.

  • MED-V enables Virtual PC deployment in larger organizations
  • MED-V provides important centralized management, policy-based provisioning and virtual image delivery to reduce the cost of Virtual PC deployment.
  • MED-V is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)
  • MED-V v1 builds on Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 to help enterprises with their upgrade to Windows Vista when applications are not yet compatible.
  • MED-V v2 will add support for Windows 7 and Windows Virtual PC.
  • MED-V v2 beta will be available within 90 days of Windows 7 GA.

Which customers should use Windows XP Mode?

Windows XP Mode is suitable for small and medium business users, who are able to set their XP applications themselves or with the help of an IT professional.

Each device has its own virtual Windows XP environment, that is controlled and managed by the end user.

Windows XP Mode is not designed for large, centrally managed deployments, and is not suitable for organizations that have widely deployed business applications that require Windows XP.

How does MED-V adds management to Windows Virtual PC?

To provide a managed, scalable solution for running virtual Windows XP applications, MED-V addresses many of the IT challenges around deployment and management including:

  • Deployment – deliver virtual Windows images and customize per user and device settings
    • Automate first-time virtual PC setup based on an IT customized script – including assignment of a unique computer name, joining to AD domain
      (for instance: assign the virtual PC a name that is derived from the physical device name or the username to simplify identification and management)
    • Adjust virtual PC memory allocation based on available RAM on host, so that the virtual PC does not take significant resources from the user
  • Provisioning – define which applications and websites are available to different users
    • Assign virtual PC images according to users and groups
    • Define which Windows XP applications will be available to the user through the start menu
    • Define which websites (e.g. internal sites that requires a previous version of Internet Explorer) are redirected automatically to Windows XP
  • Control – assign and expire usage permissions and Virtual PC settings
    • Control the network settings of the Virtual PC (e.g. whether it connects through NAT or DHCP, whether its DNS is synchronized with host)
    • Authenticate user before granting access to the Virtual PC
    • Set expiration date, after which the Virtual PC is not accessible to the end user
  • Maintenance and Support - update images, monitor users and remotely troubleshoot
    • Update images using TrimTransfer network image delivery – update a master Virtual PC image, and MED-V will automatically distribute and apply the changes to all endpoints
    • Centralized database aggregates events from all users, and provides troubleshooting information on malfunctioning virtual PCs
    • Administrator diagnostics mode allows faster resolution of Virtual PC issues
    • Run on multiple platforms – MED-V will work on both Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and will not require processor-based virtualization support

How do I purchase MED-V?

MED-V is licensed as part of MDOP subscription that is available for purchase for Software Assurance customers.

What are the key features of new version of Windows Virtual PC?

Easy setup of Windows XP Mode – Once both the Windows Virtual PC and the virtual Windows XP environment are installed, Windows Virtual PC provides a simple wizard to setup the Windows XP Mode with just a few clicks. 

USB Support - Users can access USB devices attached to Windows 7 directly from Windows Virtual PC.  These devices include Printers and Scanners, Flash Memory/Sticks and External Hard Disks, Digital Cameras and more.

Seamless Applications – Publish and Launch applications installed on Windows Virtual PC directly from the Windows 7 desktop, as if they were installed on the Windows 7 itself.

Folder Integration between Windows 7 and Windows Virtual PC– Access your Windows 7 Known Folders:  My documents, Pictures, Desktop, Music, Video, from inside the virtual windows environment, such as Windows XP Mode

Clipboard Sharing – Cut and paste between your Windows 7 and Windows Virtual PC.

Printer Redirection – Print directly to your attached printer from your Windows Virtual PC applications either in application mode or desktop mode.

SPECIAL THANKS TO Ran Oelgiesser and Fei Lu for their help with this post.