Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Windows 7 – XP Pro Mode is Virtualized XP Professional

Damir Bersinic and John Bristowe were presenting to our Edmonton Microsoft User Group this evening on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

A new feature that can be installed with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate is XP Pro Mode. These OSs will be licensed for 1 instance. For those who have Windows Vista Software Assurance tied into the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, the number of XP Pro Mode instances that can be run on a workstation covered by MDOP is 4!

Essentially, it is a VHD of Windows XP Professional that resides on the user’s system. Whenever there is a need for an application such as Internet Explorer 6 or a legacy application that will not run on a 64bit operating system or Windows 7 in general, they can be installed into the Windows XP Professional VM.

For the user, all they need to know is how to go to the XP Mode folder (exact name not known yet) under All Programs and click on that application’s icon.

They will be presented with the application’s “window” which will in fact be a TSApps session into the Windows XP Professional VM. Sound familiar to our Mac users? ;)

The solution utilizes a number of different virtualization and application delivery technologies to make sure the user can do their job without thinking about how things are working underneath it all!

The VM is somewhat manageable just as a Virtual PC 2007 VM would be. It can be connected to the local network via bridge, the Windows 7 workstation can provide NAT services for the VM so that it can access the Internet, or it can run without any network connectivity at all.

When bridged into the domain, and subsequently joined to the domain, the XP Pro VM will require the same considerations as any physical or Hyper-V based virtual machine running the OS would:

  • Patch management.
  • AntiVirus and Malware protection.
  • Group Policy structures for the VM and others like it.

Now, the above assumes a small network where there will be no centralized management of the XP Pro Mode VMs.

For larger organizations, the XP Pro Mode VMs are a part of Microsoft’s new virtualization product called Microsoft MED-V. The VMs can be managed down to almost the minutest detail.

We can see a use for Windows 7 XP Pro Mode for some of our clients that have Line of Business Applications that will not cooperate with Windows Vista or now Windows 7.

The catch is though, having these VMs on the client systems introduces another level of complexity, disaster recovery elements, and management needs.

Apparently the Release Candidate getting released for us on TechNet this Thursday and to the general public in the first week of May will have the ability to enable XP Pro Mode.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*All Mac on SBS posts will not be written on a Mac until we replace our now missing iMac! (previous blog post)

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