After the business apps such as Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes were up and running, I got to the part that I knew from the start would be tricky: the Cisco VPN client.
For various reasons, Cisco doesn’t develop versions of the Cisco VPN client for 64-bit versions of Windows. Since the Cisco VPN client works through a virtual LAN adapter that it installs, and all the drivers in 64-bit Windows operating systems need to be properly certified, that pretty much means that you cannot install the Cisco VPN client on a 64-bit Windows system, even if you would be happy to run an “unsupported” setup. So now what?
The solution comes by way of something that Microsoft calls “XP Mode” — a combination of an advanced version of Microsoft Virtual PC and a preconfigured image of 32-bit Windows XP with Service Pack 3. XP Mode is not installed in Windows 7 by default; you need to get it from Microsoft’s website. But it’s free with certain versions of Windows 7, and you don’t need to pay an additional license for the XP image, which is certainly a nice bonus. The only caveat is that you need a relatively new PC that has support for hardware virtualization in the BIOS. In practice, that means an Intel Core 2 processor or newer. Centrino probably won’t be good enough.
If your PC has hardware virtualization support, and you’ve downloaded and installed all the necessary goodies from the Microsoft website, the fun begins!