by April 1, 2010 0 comments

Application compatibility being the key for enterprise customers, Microsoft
is working closely with 3rd-party software manufacturers to ensure that the
applications being used today are compatible with Windows 7.

In some rare cases, when productivity applications are not compatible,
Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 makes it easy to install and run many older
Windows XP applications directly from your Windows 7-based PC. It utilizes
virtualization technology such as Windows Virtual PC to provide a Windows XP
Mode environment for Windows 7.

Windows XP Mode is easy to install and setup, and provides a seamless
experience while running such older Windows XP application directly from Windows
7. Windows Virtual PC also provides COM APIs for IT Pros to easily automate the
deployment and operation of Windows XP Mode.

Direct Hit!

Applies To: IT Admins
USP: Learn to customize Win XP Mode to get a pre-configured
virtual Win XP environment
Primary Link:

Search Engine Keywords:Virtual PC, Windows XP Mode, Application

Windows XP Mode components
Deploying Windows XP Mode involves two components:

Windows Virtual PC. Windows Virtual PC is a virtualization solution from
Microsoft that’s available as a Windows 7 update (.msu) file. You must install
the Windows Virtual PC update to each computer on which you want to use Windows
XP Mode. You can package the update in your Windows 7 images.

Windows XP Mode. Windows XP Mode is the virtual machine (VM) running Windows
XP Professional with Service Pack 3 (SP3). Microsoft provides Windows XP Mode as
an executable (exe) file. You can deploy Windows XP Mode without customizing it
by installing the .exe file. You can also install Windows XP Mode on a lab
computer, customize it, and then deploy the VM to each computer..

Customizing Windows XP Mode
While you can install the standard Windows XP Mode provided by Microsoft,
you can as well customize Windows XP Mode before deploying it on all computers
of your organization. This provides you with an opportunity to pre-install and
pre-configure your Windows XP-compatible business and productivity applications
for the end-users, including critical applications such as Anti-Virus solutions.
Thus, the end-users get a Windows XP Mode environment with all the relevant
application pre-configured. You can also deploy Windows XP Mode in a way that it
automatically joins the environment to the organization domain. It also provides
you an option to control the rights of the end-users for installing applications
on the virtual Windows XP environment.

Customization procedure
Deploying customized Windows XP Mode is a four-step process:

  • Prepare for customization by installing Windows XP Mode on a lab computer.
  • Customize Windows XP Mode by installing applications, updates, and so on.
  • Run Sysprep to prepare the VHD for distribution.
  • Deploy the customized virtual Windows XP VHD to multiple computers.

Prepare for customization on a lab computer
Download Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode from the link given in the
Direct Hit box and install them on a lab computer. Then copy the Windows XP Mode
VHD from the program files directory (%ProgramFiles%\Windows XP Mode\Windows XP
Mode base.vhd) to any location on your hard drive, such as your desktop, to make
accessing the VHD more convenient.

Windows Virtual PC Known Folder

The VHD thus copied is tightly ACL’d to protect it from any
inadvertent modifications. Since you need to customize this VHD, you would need
to change the ACLs on this file. After copying the VHD, change the following
ACLs: edit the properties of the file to remove the read-only attribute from the
file, change the file-owner of the file to yourself and give yourself
write-access to the file. Now create a virtual machine using this VHD. From the
Windows 7 Start menu, click All Programs, click the Windows Virtual PC folder,
and then click Windows Virtual PC. The Virtual Machines folder opens in Windows
Explorer. From the menu bar, click Create virtual machine. The Create a Virtual
Machine Wizard opens. Proceed through the pages of the wizard, choosing the
options that are appropriate for the guest operating system.

Install applications
Now that the virtual Windows XP image is ready for customization, you can
install applications in it. Install those applications from your inventory that
you’ve identified to install in the virtual Windows XP image.

Installing applications in your Windows XP VHD is simple.
Start the virtual machine you created in the section above, and install the
applications as you would on any other computer. You can access the application
install files from a CD/DVD, from the network, or by accessing the host computer
through Windows Explorer.

Install the latest Windows Updates after installing your
applications. Microsoft also strongly recommends installing an Anti-Virus and
Anti-Malware solution in Windows XP Mode. Your Anti-Virus solution on the host
Windows 7 machine does not protect Windows XP Mode.

Prepare for deployment
After customizing the Windows XP VHD with applications and security updates,
you’re ready to prepare it for deployment to multiple computers. Do this by
running the Sysprep utility. Sysprep removes the computer’s SID, resets the
activation grace period, and configures the image to run the mini-setup wizard
the next time it starts. The mini-setup wizard will customize the image for each
installation, creating a unique computer name and a unique SID.

Three files are required before you can run Sysprep, and
you must copy all of them to C:\Sysprep:

Sysprep.exe: This program prepares the image for

Setupcl.exe: This file is required for running

Sysprep.inf: This file is the answer file that
automates all or part of the mini-setup wizard.

Download the Windows XP Service Pack 3 deployment tools
from which contains the Sysprep files. Create your
sysprep.inf with all the information so that Windows XP does not prompt the user
for any information during the Windows XP setup.

Once the sysprep.inf file is created, run sysprep.exe.
Before choosing the “Reseal” option in the sysprep UI, ensure that Use
Mini-Setup option is checked. Sysprep will prepare the VHD for distribution, and
shut down the VM.

Windows XP Sysprep User Interface

Deploying Windows XP Mode VM
At this point, you have a customized Windows XP VHD that you’re ready to
deploy. Now, you need to distribute this VHD to each destination computer, and
create a VM using this VHD.

Install Windows Virtual PC on each computer: Before
deploying the Windows XP VHD, you must deploy the Windows Virtual PC update to
each computer on which you intend to deploy the Windows XP VHD. You can host the
update on a network share and instruct users on how to install it (simply
double-click the .msu file to install it).

You can also install the update by using a logon script or
any software deployment infrastructure that your organization uses. You can also
include Windows Virtual PC in your Windows 7 images to ensure its availability.
The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 makes it easy to add updates during
Windows 7 deployment. For more information, see

Remove the Windows XP Mode shortcut from the Start
Menu:After deploying Windows Virtual PC, you must remove the Windows XP Mode
shortcut that Windows Virtual PC creates when you install it. Otherwise, if
users click the Windows XP Mode shortcut, Windows Virtual PC will prompt them to
download and install the Windows XP Mode package from the Microsoft download

You can write a script to remove this shortcut (%programdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start
Menu\Programs\ Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Windows XP.lnk).

Deploy the customized Windows XP VHD to each computer: To
deploy your virtual Windows XP image to multiple computers, copy the customized
VHD to each computer for each user. By default, Windows 7 stores VHD files in %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows
Virtual PC\Virtual Machines. To deploy your customized Windows XP VHD, copy the
VHD file to this location, or any other location that is accessible to the user
on the computer.

Create the Windows XP Mode VM: You now need to create the
Windows XP Mode VM using this VHD file. You can use Windows Virtual PC APIs to
automate the creation of this VM. Complete information about the available APIs
is available on MSDN (

More information on how Enterprises can utilize the API
support for deploying Windows XP Mode across their organization can be found in
the Windows XP Mode Deployment Guide for IT Pros (http://go.mic
This page also hosts some sample scripts to help you automate the customization
of Windows XP Mode, like CreateVirtualMachine.wsf.

Run cscript CreateVirtualMachine.wsf -p:<vhd_pa th> -vn:<virtual
machine name> at an elevated Command Prompt to create the VM, where <vhd_path>
is the absolute path to the VHD copied in Step 3 above and <virtual machine
name> is any name you want to give to the VM being created e.g., “Windows XP

Create a Start Menu shortcut to launch this VM: This is an
optional step. Create this shortcut if you want the user to be able to easily
launch the Windows XP Mode VM in full desktop mode, so that the user can access
the Windows XP desktop in a Window on Windows 7.

Create a Start Menu shortcut under Windows Virtual PC Node
and call it Windows XP Mode. The target for this shortcut should be configured
as: VMWindow —vmname <Name of the VM>. E.g., if you have named the VM, created
above, as “Windows XP Mode”, the target for the shortcut should be VMWindow —vmname
“Windows XP Mode”

Now the user’s machine has the customized Windows XP Mode
set up. User needs to click on the new Windows XP Mode shortcut to let it
auto-configure the first time. Windows XP Mode would go through an automated
mini-setup based on the sysprep.inf file provided by you. Once Windows XP Mode
is setup, all applications pre-installed in the VHD would get automatically
published to the Windows 7 Start Menu. The user can now start using these
applications from Windows 7.

Large Organizations
Organizations with large environments or management requirements should
consider using Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) to deploy VMs
running Windows XP. MED-V reduces the cost of VM deployment by providing
centralized management, policy-based provisioning, and virtual image delivery.
MED-V is a benefit Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software

Rahul Razdan, Program Manager, Windows Virtualization, MS India Development
Center, Hyderabad

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