Last week I wrote about my dissatisfaction with Microsoft's approach to Virtual Windows XP Mode for Windows 7. Now, after a week of poking, prodding, and tweaking the beta version, I'm convinced that XP mode isn't so much a gift from Microsoft as it is potential curse to IT shops everywhere.
As I noted in my formal review of the beta XP mode release, a primary concern will be the need to maintain two separate OS images: one for the local host system (Windows 7) and another for the virtualized XP mode image (Windows XP). However, there are numerous minor -- and some major -- usability gotchas that will likely frustrate both end-users and support professionals.
For example, there's the lack of drag-and-drop support. Virtualized applications, even when running seamlessly on the local desktop, cannot accept drag-and-drop actions from other programs running outside of the XP mode VM. So if, like me, you're in the habit of dragging data files from Explorer and dropping them onto the title bar of an associated application, you'll no doubt find this limitation quite frustrating. The same holds true for dragging data between application windows: You can do so only if both of the applications are running inside the VM. There is simply no host-to-guest drag and drop -- not even to/from the virtualized desktop.
Another annoyance is the poor integration with Windows 7's Aero. None of the new Aero gestures (such as snap and shake) work with virtualized application windows, nor do they get proper Taskbar thumbnails: All running virtualized applications are lumped under a single Virtual PC icon, and there is no live preview for these entries (transparency is also disabled). After getting accustomed to the richer UI of Vista/Windows 7, switching back to these "legacy" applications feels anachronistic.