Hi Phil, welcome to the Seven Forums.
To start, a short explanation of two vhd's (V
isk) of XP Mode.
The base vhd is the XP core, containing parts that XP Mode needs to run. All user modifications, installed apps etc. are then stored to the second vhd. If these two vhd's are not merged, they are both needed for XP Mode to run. This, using so-called differencing disks, separates XP Mode from all other virtual machines.
To put it short, if you want to distribute an XP Mode virtual machine, you should merge it. It's also the easiest way to let different users (computer or domain) to access the same XP Mode virtual machine. If the XP Mode is differencing (base & personal vhd's), all users have separate XP Mode virtual machines, using the same base. Merging these too vhd's creates a virtual machine which can be used and accessed by different users.
To make it even more complicated, you can then use this merged vhd as a base. A practical and typical example is to install XP Mode normally, install all the software and drivers
that are common to all users, merge vhd's and create a new vhd, and using it as a base let users then modify and customize their personal XP Mode's.
I use my system as an example. I have 6 user accounts on my main rigs, on a laptop and desktop. Two of those users use the same XP Mode virtual machine, my personal and work accounts. Both of these accounts are in English, as is the admin account on these two computers. Both computers also have accounts in Finnish, Swedish and German. Maybe a pic of my logon screen tells it better:
For me, it's important that both my accounts, work and private, are able to use the same XP Mode virtual machine, access the same computer in other words. It's also important to me that all other accounts have an individual, separate XP virtual machine.
So, to start I installed XP Mode. I then installed Office, PDF-reader, VLC player and some other stuff that all users need. I merged the differencing disks to a new vhd, and replaced the base vhd with it. I then logged in to each account to install (first boot) XP Mode to those accounts.
Next step was to create a completely new vhd, merging this time the new base with my work account's differencing vhd. Now when I click XP Mode on my two accounts, they open this new vhd which no longer has a base, thus using the same virtual machine. All other accounts use differencing vhd's, the base I created with a personal vhd.
Hope you can understand my rant; I just read through what I've written and have some difficulties to understand it myself