Yesterday I installed fresh new copy Windows 7 Release Candidate. One of the things that I wanted to install is, of course, Windows Virtual PC. Windows Virtual PC Beta, a feature of Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, and Windows 7 Enterprise, provides you the capability to run multiple Windows environments (and operating systems like Linux, too) such as Windows XP Mode from your Windows 7 desktop. Windows XP Mode is great new feature, basically it is Windows XP operating system that comes as free download, and you can use it to run old applications that do not work on Windows 7.
I need that because I have old no-name TV card, which doesn’t work on Windows 7, and I would like to watch TV on my computer. Now I can use Windows XP Mode to install my PC card on Windows XP and watch TV inside of virtual XP. Great news is that Virtual PC now has USB support, which means that you can “attach” your USB device to your virtual machine. For me, this means that I can attach my USB TV card to Windows XP. I’m sure many of you have some old applications, and you don’t want to have dedicated computer with Windows XP installation just to run those applications, or you don’t want to have Windows XP in dual boot (like me). With Windows XP mode, you can install application inside of virtual Windows XP environment and then you can run it from Windows 7 start menu, like it has been installed on Windows 7.
Why am I saying you this? Yesterday, after installation of Windows 7 I visited Virtual PC download page, to download Virtual PC for Windows 7. Basically, Virtual PC is just an update for Windows 7 (till now it was installation program like any other). After installing Virtual PC, I downloaded Windows XP mode, which is free Windows XP operating system (more than 400 MB) and started it. Everything went great, I had no problems running it. After that, I wanted to create few more virtual machines, but I found it very difficult . I wanted to start “normal” Virtual PC window, and then to click on New etc. But I couldn’t find that window . The only choices that I had in my Start menu were: Virtual Machines and Virtual Windows XP . When I clicked on Virtual Machines I saw Windows XP virtual machine in Windows Explorer window and clicking od Virtual Windows XP started, of course, virtual XP machine. I started searching about my problem on the internet, but I couldn’t find the solution, everyone was saying: it is in start menu. I started loosing my mind, and then I looked at Windows Explorer window more carefully and than I saw it! Virtual PC is completely integrated in Windows 7!!! Inside of Windows Explorer, there is a option Create virtual machine, and everything that has been previously in Virtual PC windows, now is integrated in Windows Explorer. Cool! I had no problems importing my old virtual machines, I just double clicked on .vmc file and Virtual PC has recognized them and added them in Virtual Machines window.
So, many things are new about new Virtual PC that runs only on Windows 7 (Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise), but basically it is still great virtualization platform, and with Windows XP mode it helps users with moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 (which is the move that I recommend to everyone).