Final post on Windows 7 XP mode, and thoughts about Antivirus software


Okay, so this is the last one, promise.

I’d read a post somewhere where someone was speculating about the administrative overhead of having XP mode running on Windows 7.

Yeah, it’s nice to be able to say you have full compatibility with any software that could run on XP.  But that also means you’ve got two operating systems on one computer to keep patched and safe.

Someone had mentioned that it was going to be a pain to have to install two different copies of AV software, keep them up to date, and scan both OS’s.

And that got me to thinkin’…

I cannot access the VM’s drives from the Windows 7 desktop, but I can access Windows 7’s drives from the XP mode VM, right?  So, what if I install Antivirus software only in the VM, but set it to protect the VM, and the mapped drives of the Windows 7 host.

So I installed a free antivirus product (Avast for this example), and set it to scan the local VM’s C: drive, and the host’s C: drive.

And then I ran it to scan for viruses.  It scanned the local VM drive without fuss, and then went on to scan the mapped drive as well.

I could also work easily in Windows 7 during the scan without any particular lag.  Of course, Avast doesn’t have that much in the way of administrative settings, but it at least can be scheduled to run a regular antivirus scan on mapped drives.  So, in that case, in terms of scanning, it does seem as if one copy of AV on the VM can do the job of two.

Of course, there are caveats.  1) You always have to have the VM running.  But as the Virtual Apps don’t actually close or shut off the VM when they close, it well may be running anyway. 2) If real time protection doesn’t work between the Windows 7 host files opening, and those opened from the VM. In that case, you’re going to need a copy on the desktop as well as the VM if you want preemptive protection, rather than after the infection scanning. Something else to consider is it might be hard to infect files from the Windows 7 desktop to the files in the VM, but because of the file integration features, I bet the VM can infect Windows 7… something to bear in mind if you are considering not using AV on the VM because users won’t really be opening it directly after you set up their virtual applications…

Something else to think about is Microsoft is coming out with Microsoft Security Essentials, basically a reworked One Care.  I wonder if they might consider offering it as an AV solution, gratis of course, with their gratis copy of XP SP3?

Regardless, in case of emergency, you can definitely scan the Windows 7 files from the VM, but not vice versa.

Just something to think about in the “twice as much" administration” debate.

About cacallahan

Old skool server grrl. Written about server 2003, 2003 R2, etc. Did Windows Server presentations at conferences like Windows Connections, worked as a presenter for the TechNet Briefings security tour in 2004, contributed to books like Mastering Windows 2003 and Windows Vista, The Missing Manual. Got sucked into the SharePoint craze back in 2006, and have not been able to escape. Wrote "Mastering Windows SharePoint Services 3.0" and the followup "Mastering Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010." Currently wandering around the world, speaking at user groups, SharePoint Saturdays, and various conferences about SharePoint Foundation administration...
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