I have been critical of poor performance in Windows Virtual PC (most recently, here). I still can’t explain the performance problems I have seen, but Windows Virtual PC’s improved USB support saved the day.
I was helping my Dad with a piece of hardware that just doesn’t work with Windows 7. The manufacturer’s instructions say that it will work if you turn of UAC, but it doesn’t. I had just about given up, and then remembered that Virtual PC is supposed to have better USB support. I really didn’t believe it would work, but had nothing to lose. After much downloading, installing, a little rebooting, and more installing, I was able to attach this USB device to an XP Mode VM. The corresponding software also launches correctly on the Windows 7 x64 desktop.
It even performs well. All cool.
The only annoying part of it is that I can’t figure out how to stop the running VM instance without opening the VM and then closing it. The VM gets started automatically when running the XP Mode application, but there is no simple way to stop it. I suppose that XP mode is designed for people who run it all the time, but really, no clean way to stop it?