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Windows 7: XP Mode is slow--any way to improve

19 Aug 2009   #1
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
XP Mode is slow--any way to improve

I'm quite familiar with virtualization technology and I use it everyday at work (Mostly VMWare ESX and ESXi). At home I typically use VirtualBox.


So, once I got Windows 7 RTM from technet and got it installed on a box at work, I decided to get the Windows XP Mode up and running and check out the published application functionality.

The thing that I noticed right off the bat is that this Virtual Mode XP box is pretty darn slow on startup and starting applications within it compared to other VM applications.

The machine I am using is as follows:
--Asus P5QL Mobo
--Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU at 3.0Ghz
--4GB of Corsair DDR-800 RAM
--Intel 10/100/1000 NIC
--Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB hard drive.

So, as a test, I configured the XP Mode box and installed Open Office 3.0.1 onto that box.

With a fresh reboot of Windows 7 Ultimate, I fired up the XP Mode Windows XP SP3 instance and it took 56 seconds to get me to a desktop without an hourglass. I then launched open office writer and it took 10 seconds to get me to a blank document.

I then rebooted the host Windows 7 machine, and I fired up the Published Application version of Open Office write and this took 1 minute and 8 seconds to open.

So, then I installed Virtual Box 3.0.4. I created a new Windows XP SP3 machine...and ran into the first problem (You cannot run Virtual PC and Virtual Box at the same time.(get error about exclusive access to the Intel VT root)..so I had to uninstall Virtual PC). Then I installed Windows XP SP3 from a slipstreamed ISO file (took about 10 minutes to install).

I then rebooted the Windows 7 host machine and launched the Windows XP SP3 machine. It was booted to a desktop with no hourglass in 25 seconds. Remember, this same process with the XP Mode Virtual PC machine took 56 seconds.

I then rebooted the Windows 7 host machine and timed how long it took to boot up Windows XP SP3 from Virtual Box and launch OpenOffice writer to the point where I could work on a document. This took 35 seconds.

So, to reiterate
--Windows XP SP3 under Virtual PC (Virtual XP Mode) boot time: 56 seconds
--Windows XP SP3 under Virtual Box 3.0.4 boot time: 25 seconds.

--Windows XP SP3 under Virtual PC booting and then opening Writer: 66 sec.
--Windows XP SP3 under Virtual Box 3.0.4 and then opening writer: 35 sec.



So, I'm wondering if anything can be tweaked or modified to improve the performance of Windows XP running under the XP Mode function of Windows??

The obvious issue to me is that MS provides a license and ability to freely run Windows XP SP3 under Windows 7 pro, enterprise or Ultimate when you download and use their Virtual XP Mode. However, in my scenario where you install instead XP on your own..you don't have a key and the key provided in the cdkey.txt file with Virtual PC won't work. So technically you would have to purchase a license. I happen to have a volume license copy at work that I can use for my volume license tests....but that isn't the point here.

The second issue is that for people wanting to run other non-MS operating systems like Linux or Solaris...I've found in the past that support for Virtual Machine tools and so forth under Virtual PC is pretty bad and so is performance within the VM compared to other software like VMWare, or VirtualBox. And as I found out during the above testing, it doesn't seem that I can run both Virtual PC and Virtual Box at the same time....so I seem to either lose my free license to XP or lose ability to run other non-MS os's if I want the best speed/performance of my virtual machines.

It just seems like MS could have provided a faster environment for the Windows XP Mode. I mean it's 1/2 as fast as Virtual Box on the same hardware. That's pretty signficant.

Any ideas?????


My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #2
huisinro

windows 7
 
 

are you using same RAM? XP mode is configured as 256M, not sure if faster if increasing it.

XP mode uses RDP for display, which migt be one of the reason.

You don't need to uninstall VPC, as long as you don't use it same time
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #3
johngalt

 

Good points there huisinro. In addition, VBox has more configurable options, like SATA support as well as better virtualized hardware support that XP Mode simply does not have. In addition, there is another thread in this forum on how to get rid of the new VPC and go back to VPC 2007 SP1, which seems to not only have fewer compatibility problems but also seems to be much faster.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #4
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by huisinro View Post
are you using same RAM? XP mode is configured as 256M, not sure if faster if increasing it.
Yes, I configured RAM the same. On my box, it gave Windows XP 512MB

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by huisinro View Post
You don't need to uninstall VPC, as long as you don't use it same time
That wasn't my experience. I loaded Windows XP Mode first, then loaded Virtual Box 3.0.4. I then rebooted the box, fired up virtual box, created a new virtual machine and when I clicked on Start, I got "VirtualBox can't operating in VMX root mode" and the virtual machine won't start. So, I didn't have Virtual PC running and hadn't used it since I rebooted. As soon as I uninstalled Virtual PC, VirtualBox worked fine and dandy. It's the same thing discussed in this thread on the VirtualBox forums.Virtual Box can't start VMs on Win7 RC host with Virtual PC (View topic) • virtualbox.org

I really wish this free license to run XP was not tied to the fact that it has to be their provided image in their virtualization software. Like I said before, I tend to run more Linux VM's than Windows and these are not surprisingly very well supported under the Microsoft product. And until I get the above problem fixed, I cannot use them both at same time.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #5
huisinro

windows 7
 
 

Do you want to test our xpm mode impl? it's very fast

Windows XP Mode on any PC

send an email to get a test build
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #6
johngalt

 

Which VM is that using, VMWare or something else?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2009   #7
huisinro

windows 7
 
 

Hi John,

The virtual machine engine is VBox, integrated with our application virtualization. We will gradually add more and more app virtualization, e.g., application catridge, u can install apps in vm, and move all apps to use on another vm, etc.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2009   #8
jimbo45

W7 X-64 W8.1 X-64 Opensuse 13.1 W2003 Server
 
 

Hi there
I've posted previously about XP mode -- really nice idea but horribly implemented.

If you MUST use XP mode then you can improve it a bit by disabling "Desktop Integration" which then makes Vitual PC behave a bit more like other Virtual Machine software -- However this then raises the point about the "usefulness of XP mode".

The only advantage with XP mode that I can see is you get a copy of Windows XP which doesn't need activation.

If you want the BEST performance running an XP virtual machine on a Windows 7 Host run them under vmware server.

A server application will always be better than a workstation application for this type of function.

Whilst its a bit tricky to set up it really works fine and is free. The other advantage is that the VM's can start up as system services so if you want to access these VM's remotely you don't have to log on to your host first and start the vm application and power on the virtual machine.

Vmware server is FREE as well. Vmware server technically should run on a server OS itself but it works just fine on W7. I'm using W7 X-64 and usually have 3 or 4 concurrent VM's running just fine on a 4GB Ram machine.
One XP virtual machine I'm running has a full blown copy of adobe photoshop CS4 on it and still gives almost "Native" performance.

cheers
jimbo
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2009   #9
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
The only advantage with XP mode that I can see is you get a copy of Windows XP which doesn't need activation.
Yes, and that's a pretty nice perk if you ask me. I just remember reading at first that if you have Windows 7 Pro, Ent or Ult..that you will get a license to run XP. So, I thought, hey this is a pretty good deal.

But since it seems to only be applicable if using their configuration and I know from previous personal experience that performance can be MUCH improved, it's a bit of a letdown.

I think I would be just fine if I could get VirtualBox running while also have Windows XP mode there....so I could use my valid and legal XP license for XP and use the performance of VirtualBox/VMware/etc to run my other VM's.

At the end of the day though, it's still good to see MS providing this and bringing a few more people into the world of virtualization. Getting XP Mode setup and working was an absolute piece of cake and I generally think that those who haven't ever used a VM in the past won't even notice any performance hit as they will be blown away simply with how cool the technology and the concept is.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2009   #10
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Ok, a little more testing shows that VirtualBox 3.0.4 and Windows 7 XP mode can live happily together. It seems that if you launch XP Mode, and then close out the app it does take some time for the virtual pc application to relinquish control to the OS...so I was just trying to start VirtualBox a bit too fast.

What i do still have a problem with is if I launch on of the Published Apps and then close the published app...the vpc.exe process continues to run and as long as it's running, I cannot start a VM under Vbox without getting the error about accessing the Intel VT root. A quick process stop in task manager does rectify this situation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 XP Mode is slow--any way to improve




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