MegaDots and Windows 7's XP Mode

This article was written based on the text and graphics from Gilberto J. Perera from Gil’s Method is the online resource for Windows related How-to Guides for the rest of us. Additional text and notes about MegaDots are written by Caryn Navy.

Microsoft has provided some Windows 7 users with the capability to run a virtualized, fully licensed copy of Windows XP for program compatibility. MegaDots runs in the Windows 7 XP Mode.

Make sure you're running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate. To find out which edition of Windows 7 you're running, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. The edition of Windows 7 you are running is displayed under Windows edition near the top of the window. If you're not running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate, you might consider using Windows Anytime Upgrade to upgrade your edition of Windows 7 to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. (Windows 7 Enterprise isn't available in Windows Anytime Upgrade.)

Using Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode (separate downloads) users will be able to run applications (such as MegaDots) that may not be fully compatible with Windows 7 or might not run in the 64 bit environment. Applications running inside the virtual machine are fully integrated into the host operating system. Users won’t realize that the application is running in a virtual environment and when they save a file it is automatically stored on the host file system.

Before you get started make sure that your computer has a CPU with the Intel Virtualization Technology or AMD-V feature turned on. You will also need 2GB of RAM and 15GB of Hard disk space.

Please download from and install Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode from Microsoft.

Setup for the Windows XP Mode

1. Go to the Start Menu, click All Programs.

2. Expand Windows Virtual PC and click on Virtual Windows XP.

3. Add a check mark to accept license terms and click on the Next button to proceed.

4. Enter the Virtual Windows XP password you wish to use and add check mark to the Remember credentials check box. Click Next to proceed.

Note: Enabling Remember credentials will keep you from having to enter this information again in the future.

5. As with any operating system, make sure you enable Automatic Updates, click Next to proceed.

During setup you will see a series of three screens similar to the one pictured above.

Once setup is complete you will have a copy of Windows XP on your Windows 7 desktop

Configuring Level of Integration

1. To set the level of integration between the Virtual Windows XP application and the host PC, click on Tools > Settings while the Virtual Windows XP window is open.

2. Click on Integration Features on the left and add/remove check marks to the different features available. Click OK to save the settings when you are done making your selections.

logo for MegaDots

Using Virtual Windows XP with MegaDots

Virtual Windows XP will allows you to run applications within the Virtual PC window. Install MegaDots in the Windows XP window. Answer no to the question about full screen. Close the Windows XP window before launching MegaDots.

If you are using Windows XP, change the font name and size on the print side. To do that, launch MegaDots and press Alt-spacebar. Then press P and select the font tab. Choose MegaDots window braille as your font.

The idea in enlarging the font is to make the window as big as possible. Be aware that the window can never take up the whole screen. We recommend 24 point for a sighted user, 20 point for a user of JAWS or Window-Eyes. If you are asked, save these parameters for future use of this program.

Be aware that the MegaDots window braille font is designed to work with screen font smoothing turned on. If the font appears to have box-like braille dots without any shadow dots, you have screen font smoothing turned off. On your desktop, right click, choose, Properties, Appearance, click on Effects and make sure the screen font smoothing choice is checked.

To make the display work as well as possible in MegaDots, go to the MegaDots Preferences Menu, Editor. Set Text size to N (Normal), as leaving it at C (Compact) causes problems. In the same form, also make sure that Big cursor is set to No. Do not forget to save your Preferences.

In the Windows XP window open a DOS command line and type the following, to set up access to files on your Windows 7 machine.
net use x: \\tsclient\c /persistent:y <Enter>

Then you can use x: as the drive letter in MegaDots that corresponds to the C drive under Windows 7. Let's say that you also want MegaDots to access files on the D and E drives under Windows 7. At the Windows XP command line, type:
net use y: \\tsclient\d /persistent:y <Enter>
net use z: \\tsclient\e /persistent:y <Enter>

On the Windows 7 Desktop, from the Start Menu, you can locate All Programs, Windows Virtual PC, Windows XP Mode Applications, Duxbury, MegaDots 2.5 without Speech. Right Click on this, and then select Send to and then Desktop (create shortcut). This way you can launch MegaDots directly from the Windows 7 Desktop. Using the y drive (see above), you can read and write from the full Windows 7 hard drive. While there are some limitations, this is getting close to a full use of MegaDots on a 64 bit system.

Some users find that using MegaDots in a window is distracting if there is too much going on outside the MegaDots window. Here is an excellent red background for use with MegaDots in a window right click on the image and select "Set as Background".

In order to import Word files, you do not need to have a copy of Microsoft Word installed in the XP emulation. In order to export to Word files, you do need to install a copy of Microsoft Word in the XP emulation. Why? Because the DBT engine within MegaDots has all the software it needs to read Word files. But when MegaDots exports to Word, it is really exporting to html, and then using your existing copy of Word with Word automation to turn that into a genuine Word file. One approach is to export to html from the XP emulation, and save the html files in the Windows 7 computer. From the Windows 7 computer, you can import the html files and Save As Word files. This is time consuming, but avoids needing to obtain another copy of Word.

In order to do the work you want to do in the XP emulation, you many need to install other software programs, such as Adobe Reader or any other that helps you get your work done. Or you may need to install several printers for use within the emulation. Remember that from the XP emulation, you can read any part of the Windows 7 computer, but the Windows 7 computer cannot read anything in the XP emulation.