James O'Neill's Blog

May 1, 2009

Clarifying: the new virtual PC, Windows XP mode for Windows 7, and MED-V

Filed under: Beta Products,Virtualization,Windows 7,Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 11:49 am

There is an interview with Scott Woodgate,  published as  press release on press pass  entitled Helping Small Businesses With Windows 7 Professional and Windows XP Mode. After starting to speculate about this a little too soon, I want to clarify what the bits are. Because XP mode allows something which was previously only in MED-V, the term “Med-V Lite” has been used but this is an over simplification – perhaps misleadingly so. MED-V and Windows XP Mode service different audiences and solve different business problems:

Windows Virtual PC

  • is hosted virtualization (sometimes called a type II hypervisor); by comparison hyper-V in Server 2008 is a bare-metal virtualization (sometime called a type 1 hypervisor).
  • enables users to run multiple instances of Windows on a single device (although not all Windows versions are licence for additional instances in VMs).
  • will enable users to launch many older applications seamlessly in a virtual Windows XP environment from the Windows 7 start menu. Previously this was only available as part of MED-V; now this is done in Windows Virtual PC using a wizard.
  • includes support for USB devices and is based on a new core that includes multi-threading support
  • Provides Folder, clipboard and printer Integration with the the host OS
  • There’s a run down of the changes here note the requirement for a modern CPU.

Windows XP Mode

  • combines Windows Virtual PC and a pre-installed Windows XP SP3 VHD (Virtual Hard disk) file.
  • is designed for smaller business customers who need to run Windows XP applications on their windows 7 desktops where end users control the XP environment.
  • is available for pre-install from OEMs (which we think will give the best experience) and also for download for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate customers.


  • is the management layer for IT professionals on top of Virtual PC.
  • is designed for larger organizations with a proper management infrastructure, and a need to deploy a centrally-managed virtual Windows XP environment  on either Windows Vista or Windows 7 desktops.
  • The main management areas it helps in are:
    • Deployment – delivering virtual Windows images and customizing per user and device settings, (for instance: assigning the virtual PC a name that is derived from the physical device name or the username to simplify identification and management), adjusting virtual PC memory allocation based on available RAM on host etc.
    • Provisioning – defining which applications and websites are available to different users, assigning virtual PC images to users directly or based on group membership. defining which applications in the guest OS are available on the Host’s start menu, and which web sites are redirected to the guest’s browser.
    • Control – maginging usage permissions and Virtual PC settings, Control whether the Virtual PC connects using the hosts IP address with Network Address translation or gets an an address through DHCP, Authenticating user before granting access to the Virtual PC, setting an expiry date for the the Virtual PC
    • Maintanance and Support – updating images using TrimTransfer network image delivery – when a master image is changed the PCs using it receive the changes (not the whole VHD file) , aggregating events from all users in a central database
  • Runs on Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and will not require processor-based virtualization support

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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