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Author: John White

XP Mode and Sharing Documents

I’m quite liking the the Virtual PC and XP Mode on Win 7. One thing that I just sorted out and thought I should share is how the file sharing works. If you’re used to Virtual PC, you’re likely familiar with shared folders. You would normally use either that or mapped drives to share files between the VM and the host operating system. However, XP Mode doesn’t use Shared folders as such, it doesn’t quite work that way.

Any application running in XP Mode that opens up a file dialog will open to the “Documents” folder (what used to be “My Documents”). However, it’s not the same Documents folder as the one for the user that is currently logged in. Where is it then?

What XP Mode considers to be its Documents folder is actually the Public Documents folder on the host. By default, it’s available under Favorites in Windows explorer.


Pretty simple really. Anything put there by the host is available to the XP Mode applications, and vice versa.

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Installing SharePoint 2007 on Windows 2008 R2

If you’re like me, you try to keep your SharePoint servers relatively up to date, certainly with respect to the major service packs. Just about all of my servers are at service pack 2. In the past, my procedure has always been to install the slipstreamed Office with SP1, and then apply both the WSS and MOSS Service Pack 2 patches. The reason for this is that there is (inexplicably) no slipstreamed version for SP2, and I’ve been far too lazy to build my own.

Now versions prior to Service Pack 2 are incompatible with Windows Server 2008 R2. The problem is that the installer is very aware of this incompatibility, and it actually blocks any attempt to install the SP1 install with a message that looks like this:


This referenced KB article isn’t terribly helpful, as it describes a different scenario. When upgrading from a previous version to 2008 R2, you get a warning message that you can safely ignore if you already have SP2 applied (mentioned in an earlier post). Unfortunately in this case, when installing on a fresh 2008 R2 Server, there’s no button for “Yes, I understand there’s a problem and I promise to install SP2 as soon as I’m done”.

Time to build that Slipstream for R2.

It’s actually really easy. I’ll describe the procedure for MOSS,but it’s just fewer steps for WSS.

1. Extract your media to somewhere on your file system (Folder1). If your media is an ISO image,you can use WinRAR to extract it, if it’s a physical disc, just copy it, and if it’s an EXE you can use the extract switch as in “OfficeServerwithSP1.exe /extract:C:Folder1”

2. Download the WSS SP2 and the MOSS SP2 packs for your architecture, or both architectures (if you want a “master” slipstream).

3. Extract the WSS and the MOSS packs to their own folders, Folder2 and Folder3 respectively, using the extract switch described in step 1

4. The “Folder1” folder will have an x64 and an x86 folder for both architectures. Navigate to the relevant architecture and locate the Updates folder. Then copy the contents of Folder2 and Folder3 into the updates folder, allowing overwrites.

That’s it. You can now run setup and install MOSS.

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Using Windows 7 XP Mode with Cisco VPN

It”s pretty well known that there is no 64 bit version of the popular Cisco VPN client. In order to work around this problem, I”ve always kept a 32 bit virtual machine on hand and installed the client there. It can be a pain, particularly when you want to use dual monitors, but it has its advantages too. For example, depending on the VPN configuration, local network access is lost when the remote network is connected. Using a VM avoids that.

When I first heard about XP Mode, I was interested in how it might help get around this problem. I finally got around to testing it out today, and I like what I see.

For those that don”t know, XP Mode is a special VM that tightly integrated with Windows 7. With it, you can run applications that are incompatible with recent versions of Windows right from your Windows 7 desktop. In reality, they”re running in an XP engine, and the UI is “bubbled up” into Windows 7. The experience is pretty seamless.

Essentially,any applications running in XPMode are running in the same XP virtual machine. Therefore they can take advantage of any networking services installed. All that is necessary to get the Cisco VPN running is to install it onto the XP Mode virtual machine. Once installed,and connected, the virtual network is available to all applications running within the virtual machine.

Although it”s difficult to tell from the marketing noise, neither Windows Virtual PC (the latest version of Virtual PC is for some reason versionless) or XP Mode are included with the RTM of Windows 7. Once acquired, they install as an update, and exist as a feature. The new Virtual PC should import prior VMs just fine, but I found a few hiccups including one non-importable image.

How do you get up and running?

  1. Install Windows 7
  2. Download Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode Release Candidates from
  3. Uninstall prior Versions of Virtual PC
  4. Install Virtual PC
  5. Install XP Mode
  6. Start up your XP Mode machine and install the Cisco client. Import any profiles necessary
  7. Install any applications desired
  8. Shut down the XP Mode machine (pretty non-intuitive, eh?). To shut down the Virtual mode machine, you need to press Ctl-Alt-End. The normal start menu approach only allows you to log off.
  9. You will now see all of the applications, including the Cisco client installed under the Windows Virtual PC menu item in your start menu. Fire up the Cisco client, connect, and run any of the other applications that require VPN access. One caveat – in my build, the initial application start needs to be done twice.

That should do. Enjoy.

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Warning Messages when Upgrading to Windows Server 2008 R2

There are a few warning messages that can “sort of” be ignored when upgrading to Server 2008 R2. The compatibility checker is quite good at stopping you if you absolutely shouldn”t continue, but there are also some warnings that might seem puzzling.

If your server has the Hyper-V role enabled, the compatibility checker will tell you to remove the role. You really don”t want to do that, because you”ll lose an awful lot of configuration. What it SHOULD tell you is to make sure that all of your virtual machines are in an off state, because the saved state is incompatible with the new Hyper-V. If this is the case, you can safely ignore this warning and click next.

If you have SharePoint Server on the machine, the advisor will tell you to remove it. Again, this isn”t something that you”re going to want to do. What the advisor should REALLY be telling you is that All versions of SharePoint prior to 2007 with Service Pack 2 are incompatible with Server 2008 R2. If this is the case, or you”re simply unsure, stop the upgrade, and go apply Service Pack 2. Then (and only then) can you safely ignore the message, and continue the upgrade.

One last potential gotcha – after upgrading,your server will need to be reactivated. The upgrade process doesn”t tell you that.

The upgrade process appears to work rather well – so far I haven”t yet encountered any problems.

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