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Windows 7 : Configuring Hardware and Applications - Managing Applications

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As IT professionals, many of us think of managing applications as installing the application on the computer. But there are other details that may need to be configured to allow applications to run better, faster, and more efficiently.

1. Configuring Applications

As operating systems evolve, one issue that you can run into is that your applications may not work properly on the newer operating system. Microsoft has developed a few different ways to help you combat this issue.

1.1. Windows 7 XP Mode

One technology that has started to sweep the computer industry is called virtualization. Virtualization is the ability to run one operating system on top of another. For example, Microsoft Hyper-V is a virtualization feature on Windows Server 2008 R2 that allows you to run multiple versions of operating systems simultaneously on one computer.

Microsoft has a virtualization environment that can operate on its client software called Windows Virtual PC. Windows Virtual PC allows you to create and manage virtual machines without the need for a server operating system. The advantage here is that you can run operating systems in a client environment like Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. You must have Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate to download and run Windows XP Mode. All other versions must use Windows Virtual PC. All other Windows 7 versions can just download Windows Virtual PC.

Windows Virtual PC gives you the ability to set up virtualization on a client operating system. This is very beneficial for anyone in the industry who has to do testing or configuration. Windows Virtual PC is not really meant to run a network like Hyper-V, but it does give an administrator the ability to test software and patches before installing them live on a network or running applications in an operating system other than the installed one. Also, it is very beneficial to research problems in a controlled environment and not on a live server where you can end up doing more harm than good.

Finally, Windows Virtual PC gives you a training advantage. Think about having the ability to train users on a real product like Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7 without needing to purchase additional equipment. Windows Virtual PC allows you to train users on products and software while using only one machine.

Real World Scenario: Using Windows Virtual PC

As an instructor and consultant, I can't say enough about how valuable Microsoft Virtual PC can be as a tool. I have used it on many occasions to either test a piece of software before installation or find an answer to a problem in a controlled environment.

Currently, at the time this book is being written, I use Microsoft Windows Vista on my laptop. On that same laptop I have a version of Windows Virtual PC with both Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 Ultimate operating system virtual machines.

While I am on a client site or while I am in the classroom, having a way to test and research problems using multiple operating systems on one client computer system is invaluable.


To run Windows Virtual PC, you need a minimum of a 400 MHz Pentium-compatible processor (1,0 GHz or faster recommended) and at least 35 MB of free disk space. You can load Windows Virtual PC on Windows 7, Windows Vista with SP1 (Enterprise, Business, Ultimate), and Windows XP with SP3.

Professional and Ultimate can use the Windows XP Mode. All other versions complete the following steps to download and configure Windows Virtual PC on a Windows 7 machine.

Exercise 1: Downloading and Configuring Windows Virtual PC

  1. After the download completes, install the application to your system.

  2. Once the product is installed, open the Windows Virtual PC application by choosing Start => All Programs => Windows Virtual PC.

  3. When you start Windows Virtual PC, the New Virtual Machine Wizard will automatically appear. Click Next.

  4. At the Options screen, click the Create A Virtual Machine radio button.

  5. At the virtual machine Name and Location screen, type VirtualWin7 and then click Next.

  6. At the Operating System screen, choose Other in the pull-down box (if you are going to install Windows 7 32-bit). Click Next.

  7. At the Memory screen, choose the Adjust The RAM radio button and set it to 1024 (512 minimum if needed). Click Next.

  8. At the Virtual Hard Disk screen, click the New Virtual Hard Disk radio button and click Next.

  9. At the Virtual Hard Disk Name And Location screen, accept the default location and click Next. You can change the name or location if needed.

  10. At the Completing The New Virtual Machine screen, verify the settings and click Finish.

  11. The Windows Virtual PC console will now show the VirtualWin7 virtual machine. Click the virtual machine and choose Settings under the Actions menu.

  12. The Settings for VirtualWin7 will appear. Here is where you can change or verify your settings for this virtual machine. Click on CD/DVD drive and verify that you are using the local DVD drive. Click OK.

  13. Put the Windows 7 32-bit DVD in the physical drive. At the Windows Virtual PC console screen, click VirtualWin7 and click Start.

  14. Install Windows 7 onto the virtual machine. If for any reason the DVD does not get recognized, click the CD menu item and choose the Use Physical CD option. Click Enter and finish the install.

  15. After Windows 7 is installed, close the VirtualWin7 virtual machine and save the changes.


If you are using Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, or Professional, Microsoft has an XP virtual machine insert that allows you to run Windows XP applications on Windows 7. This is known as Windows 7 XP Mode. If you have applications that ran properly on Windows XP but aren't running well on Windows 7, running the applications in XP Mode solves this issue.

1.2. Understanding Shims

When new operating systems get released, older applications may not run and you may not be able to get a newer version. For example, a vendor that sold you an application has gone out of business, but the application is still needed in your organization.

If you install the application on Windows 7, there may be issues. This is where shims apply. The shim (known as Shim Infrastructure) is a coding fix that allows the application to function properly.

The Shim Infrastructure (http://technet.nicrosoft.com/en-us/1ibrary/dd837644(WS.lO).aspx) consists of application programming interface (API) hooking. What this means is that the Shim Infrastructure uses linking to redirect API calls from the Windows operating system to the alternative code called the shim.

To have shims created, you must first contact Microsoft. Microsoft must create the shim; Microsoft does not offer any custom tools to allow for private creation. Microsoft does include shims with Windows 7 and new shims will be available through Windows Update as they are created.

1.3. Windows 7 Compatibility Mode

Another way to try to run an older application in Windows 7 is by setting the compatibility mode. Let's say that an application worked fine in Windows XP but it is not working correctly in Windows 7. You can set that application to run in compatibility mode for a previous operating system (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Application compatibility mode

There are some other features that you can enable when setting the compatibility options:

  • Run In 256 Color

  • Run In 640 × 480 Screen Resolution

  • Disable Visual Themes

  • Disable Desktop Composition

  • Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Settings

  • Run This Program As An Administrator

1.4. File Extension Association

One task that may need to be performed is associating a file to a particular application. For example, you may want all files with the filename extension .asx to be played through Windows Media Player. You have the ability to set these file extension associations in Default Programs in Control Panel. Within Default Programs, there is an Associate A File Type Or Protocol With A Program link, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Filename extension association

Another application that is used in Windows 7 that we need to discuss is Internet Explorer 8. In the next section we will look at configuring and managing Internet Explorer 8.
Other -----------------
- Windows 7 : Configuring Hardware and Applications - Managing Printers
- Windows 7 : Configuring Hardware (part 2) - Installing and Updating Device Drivers & Driver Signing
- Windows 7 : Configuring Hardware (part 1) - Device Stage & Using Device Manager
- Windows 7 : Scripting Windows with PowerShell - Creating PowerShell Scripts
- Windows 7 : Scripting Windows with PowerShell - Scripting Objects
- Windows 7 : Scripting Windows with PowerShell - Running PowerShell Cmdlets
- Windows 7 : Scripting Windows with PowerShell - Getting Started with PowerShell
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Programming the Windows Management Instrumentation Service
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Scripting Internet Explorer
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Programming the WshNetwork Object
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Programming the WshShell Object (part 2)
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Programming the WshShell Object (part 1)
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Programming the WScript Object
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Programming Objects
- Scripting Windows 7 with WSH : Scripts and Script Execution
- Adding Macs to Your Windows 7 Network : Letting Windows Computers See Your Mac Shares
- Adding Macs to Your Windows 7 Network : Using a Mac to Make a Remote Desktop Connection to Windows 7
- Adding Macs to Your Windows 7 Network : Connecting to a Windows Shared Folder
- Adding Macs to Your Windows 7 Network : Connecting to the Windows Network
- Windows 7 : Controlling and Customizing Your Website (part 5) - Viewing the Server Logs
 
 
 
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