“XP Mode” is key to running older and incompatible programs under Windows 7. A couple of weeks ago, we guided you through the necessary steps for setting up XP Mode. Now it’s time to dive deeper into this virtual Windows XP, troubleshoot your performance issues and better integrate your “old” programs into Windows 7. Here are the most common XP Mode FAQs and their respective answers.
Easily Manage Virtual Programs and Their Shortcuts
Programs that you install in XP Mode are automatically added to your Windows 7 Start menu.
You can run them just by clicking the short cut, without loading the XP Mode environment first. But what if the program you’d like to run does not appear in the Start menu? What if you want to hide certain shortcuts?
To manage all of these application shortcuts, open up XP Mode, and right-click on the Start menu.
Select “Open All Users”, and go straight to “Programs”. This is where you find shortcuts that are automatically published to your Windows 7 Start menu. If you don’t want one of these to be accessible from Windows 7, delete it. In some cases, programs might not add a shortcut to the “All Users” folder, so you have to manually copy them from the “XPMUser” (this is your user account in XP Mode) Start menu.
Shutting Down XP Mode
The moment you close XP Mode or close an XP Mode application, the virtual Windows XP goes into “hibernation” by default. You can easily change this behavior—open up XP Mode, and click on “Tools/Close”. Next, select another default action for clicking the “X” button from the drop-down menu.
However, if you don’t like this to be the default action, manually shutting down XP Mode isn’t easy to do…
…as there is no shutdown option in the Start menu! So how do you just shut down the virtual machine? On the top of the virtual PC window, click on the “Ctrl+Alt+Del” entry.
Next, select “Shut Down”. It’s a bit complicated, we agree, but it’s a quick solution if you just need to shut down once in a while.
Fighting High CPU Usage in Windows XP Mode
If XP Mode is incredibly slow, the problem might not necessarily be connected to your PC hardware. It might be a common issue that plagues XP Mode users—the virtual PC or one of its applications might be draining all of your processor’s resources and slowing your system down to a crawl. It’s a known issue that occurs on notebooks and that is related to their power management systems. Before you turn off any power management features, hold down the WINDOWS key on your keyboard, and press “R” to display the “Run” box.
Enter the following command: %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC.
This will bring up the virtual PC folder. Right-click on “Options.xml”, and click on “Edit”.
Now find the entry <mm_timer_duration type=”integer”>16</mm_timer_duration>, and replace it with <mm_timer_duration type=”integer”>1</mm_timer_duration>.
This will make for a much more efficient use of your resources and not let power management features slow your XP Mode down.
No Internet Connection in XP Mode? Switch to the Right Network Adapter!
In part 1 of our XP Mode guide, we showed you how to set up your Internet connection. However, in our experience, sometimes even selecting the correct network adapter (the one that’s connected to the Internet!) does not get you connected in XP Mode. To help, try switching from your network adapter to “Shared Networking (NAT)” setting.
Gaming in XP Mode: Is It Even Worth the Try?
Old-school gamers might run into issues trying to run their classic games that came out before Windows 7 or Vista. However, instead of running XP on a separate partition in dual-boot, XP Mode might be a viable alternative. The question is—do they work in XP Mode, and if so, do they work well at all?
To be honest, 2D games will be okay, but sophisticated 3D games will run very poorly—if at all. The reason behind this: the virtual environment. Keep in mind that XP Mode is essentially a simulated Windows XP PC and all that comes with a PC, including a processor, memory, sound chip and graphics card. Now, while XP Mode is actually able to directly access the processor and share parts of the memory, it does not directly access your graphics card. It simulates a very low-end S3 Trio graphics card with just four MB of memory (remember, these days graphic cards have around 256 MB to one GB of graphic memory!).
We’ve installed the 1999 classic game, Planescape Torment, which has its problems with newer operating systems like Windows 7 or Vista but works perfectly fine under Windows XP or 2000 (yes, we know that there are fan-made patches out there, but let’s take this one as an example anyway).
The results to our test? Planescape Torment wouldn’t even run because of a problem with XP Mode’s resolution. Another game, Fahrenheit from 2005, didn’t start either due to problems with the color quality settings.
Bottom line—only the most basic 2D games, such as Risk II, will run fine under XP Mode. We don’t recommend running more sophisticated games and suggest looking at alternative options for gaming (such as installing XP on a secondary partition for your older titles). In many cases, like that of Planescape Torment, the fan-based community creates patches or shares tips for running these classic games under Windows 7. Just use Google and see if compatibility issues have been resolved, either through official or non-official (e.g. fan) channels.
This concludes our XP Mode guide and FAQ. Any questions or tips? Let us know in the comment section below!
14 Responses to “Setting Up and Tuning Windows XP Mode (Part 2)”
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