Now that you can run Windows XP-based applications seamlessly in Windows 8 from a VM running on Client Hyper-V with RemoteApp enabled , here are a few of the gotchas and things I’ve learned to improve the overall experience.
The applications you’re accessing in the Windows XP VM won’t have any awareness of your Windows 8 computer. Because of this, you may want to consider mapping a drive back to the host system so you can access files if necessary. As another option, you can use Folder Redirection to access your files on a central file server or back on the host system.
One of the things I really like about accessing RemoteApps in a Windows XP session is that you can run as many applications as the VM is capable of running; you aren’t limited to running just a single application. You can create as many .rdp files for different applications as you need. If you need two instances of an application, it is as simple as running the .rdp file a second time.
Where do I put the .rdp files?
If the applications will be used by a single person, you could always put the .rdp files on the Desktop, but most users are going to expect them on the Start Screen. Your best bet is going to be to put them into a folder in Program Files and create shortcuts to them for the user’s Start Menu so that the .rdp files can’t be modified. The shortcuts can be put in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs for a single user or C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs if more than one person on the system may access them.
If this VM will be on a corporate network, you definitely will want to add it to Active Directory. The added value here is that Group Policy should take over and handle things like mapping drives, Folder Redirection, etc. to make the experience seamless for the user. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re patching the Windows XP VM and applications just as you would any physical system.
Unlike XP Mode in Windows 7, starting and stopping the virtual machine is a little more difficult to deal with. With RemoteApp, the VM would start and stop as necessary. With Client Hyper-V on Windows 8, you’ll either need to start/stop the VM manually or have it start and stop with the system automatically. Odds are, you’re going to want to set the VM to start and stop automatically with Windows so that the end user doesn’t have to deal with it. This can be configured in the Hyper-V Manager by going to the VM Settings. In Settings, go to Automatic Start Action and set it to “Always” start this virtual machine automatically. In Automatic Stop Action, you’ll most likely want to set it to either “Save the virtual machine state” or “Shut down the guest operating system”.
Windows 8 XP Mode – VM startup/shutdown
Another setting you’ll want to consider is the time limit for disconnected sessions. If you run gpedit.msc in your Windows XP VM, this setting can be found in:
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Terminal Services > Sessions > Set time limit for disconnected sessions
In the event you’re setting this in Group Policy and using a newer GPMC, the setting can be found in:
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Session Time Limits > Set time limit for disconnect sessions
If you’re going to have multiple users on a computer with access, you may also want to consider using the “Set time limit for active but idle Terminal/RDS session” in the same area. For both options, my experience has been that between 1 to 3 hours usually works best. Your environment and needs may dictate something different.