Sunday, August 22, 2010

Installing Windows XP as a Virtual PC

Many of us have moved to Windows 7 and are quite satisfied with it. Some still have ancient applications that will work on XP and nothing else, for this reason they are tempted to downgrade to Windows XP which isn’t the actual solution. In this post, I am going to give a mini tutorial on how to have your Windows 7/Vista run a Windows XP inside it.

Firstly, I’d recommend you have a system having at least 2GB RAM before you start with this process, since anything lower can cause performance issues with your primary OS.

Start by downloading Microsoft Virtual PC (Click here to download). Install the program you’ve downloaded and restart your computer. Now, get into the Virtual PC console and click ‘New’ and follow the onscreen instructions to keep moving on, at one point you will be asked about the RAM for the Virtual machine, I recommend you choose ‘Adjusting the RAM’ and allocate at least 512MB RAM (in case of Windows XP) for an optimal performance. This shouldn’t be a problem when you have 2GB RAM installed.

PS: Use the Ready Boost feature if you feel that you are running out of RAM.

In the next step, you are asked whether you want to create a new Virtual HDD or use an existing Virtual disk. I have no idea why using a new  Virtual HDD is chosen by default when the program is run for the first time and I reckon they want you to use a Virtual Machine Image that was already installed, but, you should be choosing the new virtual HDD and go to the next step where you have to choose the location of the virtual machine in your computer, you should also allocate a space of it from your HDD and 16GB was chosen by default, this space increases dynamically as you keep using and there’s also an option to take up a huge chunk of your HDD at once and clicking next now finishes the Virtual machine creation, the machine you created must show up in the Virtual PC console and you may click on it and hit start, doing this boots up the PC without an OS. If you’ve got a CD drive installed you can make use of it by pressing the CD toolbar -> capture physical drive image. You can also use an ISO image to install Windows XP; all you need to make sure is that you are properly licensed.


Now that you’ve installed XP, you need to secure your newly-acquired Virtual computer with security software and a firewall. Never think that the antivirus software installed in your main PC will protect your virtual PC – It won’t.

After installing the necessary applications backup the Virtual PC image in case you need to install a Virtual XP again in the future.

There is another method of using the XP mode in Windows 7 which requires Genuine Windows software installed; you may check it out here. The only difference between these two methods is that you need to manually install Windows XP in the method I mentioned and you don’t have to do that in the other (but, you should have genuinely licensed software installed). You can also acquire the Image files of readily installed Windows XP Virtual PC’s in certain torrents, remember that you may use Virtual PC to install other Operating systems as well.