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Windows 7: XP Mode keeps focus when app launched from host taskbar

09 Feb 2010   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)
XP Mode keeps focus when app launched from host taskbar

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the convoluted title, I couldn't think of a simpler way to describe it in one sentence. Here's what's happening...

I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit) and I use Windows XP Mode every day for my work. (long story, not relevant!) I've found a very strange behaviour, and wondered if anyone else has noticed this. It's tripped me up a few times.

Try the following steps to reproduce the phenomenon:
  1. Open Windows XP Mode from within Windows 7.
  2. Position the Windows XP Mode window to ensure the Windows 7 taskbar is still visible.
  3. Open Notepad within Windows XP Mode.
  4. Write some random text in the Notepad window.
  5. Click on an icon on the Windows 7 taskbar to open a pinned program such as Firefox.
    IMPORTANT: This should be one click, don't use ALT+TAB, just click once on an icon that's already visible.
    ALSO IMPORTANT: It must be a program that's NOT already open. The problem is only evident when Windows 7 launches the program as opposed to switching to it. If you're reading this article in Firefox, using Firefox will only re-focus this window!
  6. At this point the application will open in Windows 7. (Firefox in my example)
  7. Now, use your keyboard to attempt to interact with the program. This will depend on the app you're using of course, but any keyboard shortcut or keyboard input other than ALT+TAB would be valid here. If you've got the same problem as I have, you will see that the keypresses are received by Notepad within XP Mode, NOT the application you just launched.
This has caught me out so many times. I have two monitors and I usually have Windows XP Mode maximised in my 2nd monitor. I've frequently tried to open Firefox in Windows 7 and then used a keyboard shortcut like CTRL+E to focus the search box or ALT+D to focus the address box, only to find that the keypress has been received by Windows XP Mode rather than Firefox. I then have to delete the text from the other program and click on Firefox with the mouse before repeating the process with the focus in the right place.

Is anyone else seeing the same thing? Is this a bug with Windows XP Mode or Windows 7?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2010   #2


Interesting. I have no idea why this happens, although only when XP Mode is maximized. When in windowed mode the application opened from host's taskbar gets the focus.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
Interesting. I have no idea why this happens, although only when XP Mode is maximized. When in windowed mode the application opened from host's taskbar gets the focus.
Ah, that's an interesting observation. You're right. I just tried my usual test and it only happens when XP Mode is maximised. In some ways that makes more sense - it's much less likely to happen in that case because if you have it maximised on the primary monitor, the taskbar is hidden behind it. In my case, however, with XP Mode maximised on the 2nd monitor, the taskbar is still visible on the 1st.

Does anyone know how I should go about reporting this bug to Microsoft? I've reported a few things in Microsoft Connect before but they were in .NET and Visual Studio. I don't see a channel for Windows 7 or Virtual PC.
My System SpecsSystem Spec


 XP Mode keeps focus when app launched from host taskbar

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