Now with Windows 7 RC out, one of the most talked about features is the Virtual XP Mode. This basically gives you a Windows XP running in a virtual machine.
This is a separate download apart from Win 7 available in MSDN or Technet (For subscribers only now). You need to download two pieces of software.
First download the Windows Virtual PC Beta (a very small 5 MB download), which is a version of Virtual PC designed to run in Win 7 Professional and above only. It also has modifications to allow it to integrate with explorer and also allow the virtual machine to access USB devices (One of the big shortcoming in Virtual PC for me is its inability to access USB devices).
Once you have this you need to download the Virtual XP Mode, which is basically the XP vhd. It is a 500MB or so download. Once you install this, you get a start menu link that allows you to launch the virtual machine.
When this start, if allows you set a password for the default user, named “User”. The virtual machine is configured to run with 256 MB RAM out of the box.
I am interested to see how this works in real life. I have just got it installed, but not sure if it would be too much of a pain to use. Will post my experience after a couple of days.
Also to note, is that the new Windows Virtual PC requires your processor to support hardware virtualization. ZDNet has a blog post on this, How many Intel CPUs will fail the XP Mode test in Windows 7?
One of the surprising things for me, is that even though this has got a lot of press coverage, the Virtual XP mode download is not in the Top Downloads list of MSDN as of now. So not everyone downloading Win 7 or Win 2010 server (Both of which practically fill up the top downloads), seems to be that interested in this.