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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Windows 7 XP Mode: How to run incompatible applications within Windows 7.

I stumbled across this, while I was looking for a way to test a website on multiple instances of IE. Turns out there is a tool called IETester that allows for you test your websites against all incarnations of IE from within one desktop application.

OK, thats sweet I thought…. And like all things in the IT world nothing is ever that easy. Of course it would be if I was sensible and running on a supported platform, however I have been running Windows 7 RC 1 for a number of weeks now (which has caused a few little hiccups on the odd program, but overall I love Windows 7).
I was distressed to find that this little app would not work directly on Windows 7. However turns out that by utilising Windows 7 XP mode you can virtualise an XP environment and run the app directly (external from the virtualised XP) on  the Windows 7 desktop. See here for full instructions on getting IETester up and running on Windows 7.

As a side note I think this was something you could do on the Mac (with OS X and Windows installed) (as I recall from a friend), maybe with a third party product I think (parallels, or something I think the product was called).

The procedure described in the article above should work for most business type applications, it is not however a silver bullet. You may start hitting issues with programs that want access to physical devices such as graphic card acceleration but if you have a problem app and the compatibility modes options within Windows 7 don’t work this could be the solution for you.

Below I detail a quick How To, to get an application up and running within a virtualised XP environment and then allow it (the application) to run directly within your Windows 7 installation.

  1. Download XP Mode
  2. Download Virtual PC for Windows 7
  3. Install Virtual PC first
  4. Install XP Mode second. ;o)
  5. Once you have booted your Virtual XP, install your application within this virtual XP. Thing to note at this stage is that the application must be installed in the “All Users” start menu. So if you have the option during install, use it. Otherwise post install move the start menu item from the private user menu to the “All Users” start menu.
  6. Now reboot the virtual XP machine again. Once rebooted you can shut it down.
  7. OK, now on your windows 7 machine go to “Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Windows XP Applications”, if all has gone well you should see your application listed here. If you don’t see it, ensure that the start menu item is in the “All Users” start menu on the Virtual XP machine as described in step 5. If its not in the “All Users” start menu you will not see list in the Windows 7 menu.
  8. Ok, click on the shortcut for your application (in “Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Windows XP Applications”) and you should get your application start up and appear as if its running within Windows 7, however it is actually running within a virtualised XP environment.


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