On Tuesday Microsoft released the RC of virtual pc for windows 7. The changes from the beta to the release candidate were listed on Ben Armstrong’s virtual pc guy’s blog as follows:

  • Granular drive sharing
    In the settings on the virtual machine, you can select specific host computer drives to share with the virtual machine.
  • Manage USB devices with virtual applications
    While running virtual applications, you can manage USB devices by using the Virtual Applications icon on the task bar.
  • Windows XP Mode tutorial
    A Windows XP Mode RC tutorial, which introduces the product features, is displayed during Windows XP Mode Setup.
  • Jump list for virtual applications
    Right clicking on the virtual application icon for Windows XP Mode, on Windows 7 taskbar, displays a jump list that allows one to easily launch virtual applications from the taskbar.
  • Faster Windows XP Mode Setup
    Windows XP Mode Setup completes more quickly than in Windows XP Mode Beta.
  • Compact differencing disks
    You can compact the differencing disks to decrease the file size.
  • Ability to install Windows XP optional components
    Windows XP optional components can be installed in Windows XP Mode RC without prompting for Windows XP media.
  • Ability to choose a location to store virtual machine files for Window XP Mode RC
    When you are setting up Windows XP Mode RC, you can choose where to store all virtual machine files for Windows XP Mode RC. The default path is: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines\.
  • Option to turn off and discard changes when Undo disk is enabled for a virtual machine
    An additional option is available when you are turning off a virtual machine: Turn off and discard changes. This option will delete the current Undo disk, and turn off the virtual machine.

The changes seem to be pretty significant as quite a number of people found the XP mode to be slow and somewhat difficult to use so I am going to run through an installation and configuration of the application to see what the improvements have really accomplished.

My test machine for this project is as follows:

  • An Intel Q6600 processor on a abit IX38 Quad GT mother board with 4GB of ram. I am currently running the 64 bit version of Windows 7 RC with all of the latest patches as of today.


The installation of Virtual PC for windows 7 is done by two separate applications. The first application which weighs in at about 7 Megs is the hypervisor and application to run vm’s on your system.  The installation requirements are as follows for virtual pc:

  1. 1 GHz processor with hardware assisted virtualization support (either AMD VTM or Intel VT-X)
  2. 1.5 GB of ram, 2GB recommended or more depending on how many VM’s your going to run at once.
  3. At least 15 GB’s of hard drive space per Virtual machine.
  4. This is only available in Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate editions.

The installation is pretty straight forward as shown in the following screen shots:

Install 1st step

Install 2nd step

Install 3rd step

install last step

This part of the process took about 5 minutes and is followed by a reboot completes this part of the installation. After the reboot you can launch the virtual pc application which integrates into windows explorer like so:

virtual pc explorer screen

From here you control your virtual machines as well as create them and make any changes needed. Virtual machine creation is very straightforward and easy to do.

creation screen 1

creation screen 2

creation screen 3

creation screen 4

In about 4 steps you can create your virtual machine (IE: Server 2008) but in order to use windows xp mode you have to download a 470 MB standalone app to install the VHD and enable integration mode.

Installation is fairly easy and after a few questions such as were you want the VHD file placed and the password for the user account associated with the vm the final configuration occurs and you get the following screen:


At this stage you would install whatever legacy apps you would need installed in the vm and they would be presented to the host OS.

In my next article I will go over how to use the xp mode effectively and what to expect when using it.