Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode release candidates

Earlier this evening, Microsoft announced that the release candidate for WIndows XP Mode (Virtual PC 7) is now available. It’s good timing really. In the next couple of days I should be able to download the RTM bits for Windows 7 and, as upgrading from the XP Mode beta is not supported, it means I should have the new version of WIndows XP Mode before I rebuild my workstation onto an RTM build.

There have been a few changes in Windows XP Mode between beta and RC:

  • USB devices can now be attached to Windows XP Mode applications directly from the Windows 7 superbar, making them available to applications running in Windows XP Mode without the need to go into full screen mode.
  • Windows XP Mode applications can now be accessed with a jump-list allowing a right-click on the Windows XP Mode applications from the superbar to select and open most recently used files.
  • It is possible to customise where Windows XP Mode differencing disk files are stored.
  • Differencing disks may be compacted.
  • There is a new option to turn off and discard changes when using Undo disks.
  • Drive sharing between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7 can be disabled.
  • Initial setup includes a new user tutorial about how to use Windows XP Mode.
  • Faster setup.
  • The ability to install Windows XP components without access to media.

Interestingly, Microsoft is now saying you need an additonal 1GB of RAM for XP Mode (2GB recommended). Of course, you don’t need 1GB of RAM in order to run a copy of Windows XP and a virtual machine manager but that tells you what you might want for any level of performance. In addition to the requirement for hardware that offers virtualisation assistance, this is just one more reason why XP Mode is not a solution for clients looking to sweat their existing hardware assets a while longer… this is purely a software sticking plaster for legacy applications. On the other hand, it’s working pretty well for me with Outlook 2007 in a VM to support Google Calendar Sync and Outlook 2010 on my workstation as my client of choice.

A couple more notes worth mentioning…

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