Virtual XP Mode in Windows 7

With the recent release of Windows 7, a popular request is to utilise the virtual XP mode that is freely available from Microsoft.

If you have any applications that do not run on Windows 7, you can choose to run then either in compatibility mode or run them inside a virtual XP installation on your Windows 7 PC. This can also be useful for testing both programs and also websites that need to run in older browsers such as Internet Explorer 6.

To configure this you first have to ensure that your PC is able to run the virtualisation mode required. Run either the Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool or SecurAble by Gibson Research. If supported, you should see confirmation such as below that you can utilise virtualisation.

The next step is to download the Windows XP Mode file from Microsoft, this is approx. 500MB. Then download the Windows Virtual PC application. Once installed you can select the Windows XP Mode option from the Start Menu – Windows Virtual PC within Windows 7.

A host of settings are available:

The default memory setting of 256MB is sufficient for lightweight work, but heavy duty users may wish to increase this to improve performance. The installation of Windows XP includes all updates included with Service Pack 3, so you will have to run Windows Update to bring the OS up to date. We also recommend installing Microsoft Security Essentials to prevent any malware within the virtualised OS.


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2 Responses to “Virtual XP Mode in Windows 7”
  1. I installed this as soon as it came out, thinking it would be invaluable for backwards compatibility. It turns out (three months later) that I haven’t had to use it for anything! All the apps I use work great in Windows 7 natively. Even so, it’s nice to have a licensed VM floating around just in case.

    One thing you should probably mention is that you must have Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate to run Windows XP Mode. If you have Home Premium or lower you can still download Virtual PC for free but need to have a paid-for license of XP.

  2. RealWorld says:

    Excellent points. Thanks for your input.

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