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A couple of weeks ago, we asked you if you used Windows XP Mode and many of you responded by saying you didn’t know about it. In the past, we showed you how to Windows XP Mode but didn’t really explain the purpose of it. This guide serves as an update to the previous guide; in this guide, we’ll cover the following:

  • What is Windows Virtual PC?
  • What operating systems can I install with Windows Virtual PC?
  • What is Windows XP Mode?
  • Why do I need Windows XP Mode?
  • What are the system requirements of Windows Virtual PC?
  • Where can I download Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode?
  • How do I install Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode?
  • How do I use Windows XP Mode?
  • What else should I know about Windows XP Mode?

If you get to the end of this guide and still have questions about Windows Virtual PC or XP Mode, please ask them in the Windows 7 forum.

What is Windows Virtual PC?

From the Windows Virtual PC Site:

Windows Virtual PC is the latest Microsoft virtualization technology designed for Windows 7. It is the runtime engine for Windows XP Mode to provide a virtual Windows environment for Windows 7. With Windows Virtual PC, Windows XP Mode applications can be seen and accessed from a Windows 7-based PC.

Or, in plain English:

Windows Virtual PC is a program that lets you run, for example, XP while using Windows 7.

What Operating Systems Can I Install Using Windows Virtual PC?

You can safely install any version of Windows. Here are instructions for setting up a virtualized copy of Windows Vista (the same steps apply for creating a Virtual copy of Windows 7.) Keep reading below for instructions on setting up Windows XP Mode, which is a free feature of Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.

What is Windows XP Mode?

From the Windows Virtual PC Site:

Windows XP Mode is a new benefit of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate and provides additional application compatibility. It allows you to install and run many of your productivity applications for Windows XP directly from your Windows 7-based PC. It utilizes virtualization technology, such as Windows Virtual PC, to provide a virtual Windows XP environment for Windows 7.

Again, in plain English:

It’s XP running while you use Windows 7.

Why do I need Windows XP Mode?

You may want to use Windows XP Mode for any of the following reasons:

  • You’re forced to use Windows 7 (new PC purchase, company-owner computer) but still want to use XP
  • You use a program that doesn’t work with Windows 7, even in compatibility mode
  • You want to use a virtual operating system to run software that you wouldn’t trust running on your physical PC
  • You want to try XP Mode because it’s there and it came with your Windows 7 Professional / Ultimate license
  • A bunch of other reasons I can’t think of or don’t know of

What are the system requirements of Windows Virtual PC?

  • 1 GHz 32-bit / 64-bit processor required
  • Memory (RAM) – 1.25 GB required, 2 GB memory recommended
  • Recommended 15 GB hard disk space per virtual Windows environment
  • NB: Windows XP Mode is only available in Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, and Windows 7 Ultimate (how to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 7 Professional)

Where can I download Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode?

You can download Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP mode here.

Currently, to use Windows XP Mode, you need to download three files:

  • Windows XP Mode
  • Windows Virtual PC
  • Windows XP Mode update

When you download Windows XP Mode, you will be asked to validate your copy of Windows:

Once validation is successful, you can download all three files:

How do I install Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode?

To install Windows XP Mode:

  1. Double click on WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe (the first file you downloaded.)
  2. The Windows XP Mode setup box will open. Click Next.
  3. Leave the install directory as default and click Next. Windows will now create a virtual hard drive for XP Mode.
  4. Click Finish.
  5. Double click on the Windows Virtual PC install file (the second file you downloaded) and click Yes.
  6. Read the license terms and click I Accept.
  7. Windows will now download and install Windows Virtual PC. After installation, you’ll need to restart your computer.
  8. Double click on the Windows XP Mode update file (the third file you downloaded) and click Yes.
  9. Windows will now download and install the Windows XP Mode update. After installation, you’ll need to restart your computer.

Now Windows Virtual PC is installed and Windows XP Mode is installed and updated. Move to the next section to learn how to use XP Mode.

How do I use Windows XP Mode?

To use Windows XP Mode for the first time:

  1. Click the Start button, type XP, and click Windows XP Mode.
  2. When using Windows XP Mode for the first time, you’ll need to agree to the license terms:
  3. I recommend leaving the default Installation folder and using the same password as you use to log in to Windows. Click Next.
  4. I also recommend you use automatic updates. Click Next.
  5. Click Start Setup.
  6. Remind yourself of some XP tips and tricks while XP installs:

XP Mode is now installed and running:

What else should I know about Windows XP Mode?

Over the next few days, I’ll address the following topics:

What else would you like to know? Let us know in the comments.

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix them.

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17 thoughts on “What are Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode and How Do I Use them?”

  1. SRChiP says:

    I was thinking, can we install XP mode and get XP serial to install XP seperately?

  2. Rich says:

    As in use the license key from XP mode to install XP on another computer? If so, this will not work as the licenses are different and the XP Mode license would not validate on a base install.

  3. helder miranda says:

    y get back 2 windows xp if u have the latest about windows. a lot things may b happening to make windows super-ultra sophisticated and better for u! but getting back to xp is not the solution. im thinking about the next generation of windows. should come w my name on it!!! wasn’t my idea. this is my idea!!! come on guys, u gotta think ahead!!!

  4. MortonAudrey says:

    I woul like to canel this

  5. Lnance47 says:

    If I install Windows XP mode, will it enable me to use my older printers (printers that are not supported in Windows 7 and for which HP has not provided a driver)

  6. Rich says:

    I don't have a solid answer for this but…

    If you already have everything you need (and the printer is connected via USB), then I'd try to install the drivers in XP mode to see if it will work.

    Unfortunately, I don't have an “XP only” printer to test this myself.

  7. Max Peck says:

    I'm already using VPC under 7. Have been for a long time. What additional benefit would there be to installing “XP Mode” that I don't already have just using VPC as it is?

  8. Rich says:

    Other than better integration (e.g. app integration into the Windows 7 start menu, automatic drive mapping etc.), not a whole lot. However, if you're happy with your current XP VM, then I wouldn't change what you're doing.

    1. Chrysalis says:

      Can you please explain what Max means when he says already using VPC? I mean is VPC not just an interface to go use other OSs like XP for example? Can VPC be used just by itself and if yes, what is it used for?

  9. Max Peck says:

    Gotcha. Yeah, will leave it alone. Thanks.

  10. Jeff Norris says:

    Can you run a Linux vm with XP mode?

  11. Rich says:

    Hi Jeff, you can't run Linux with XP mode; however, you can run Linux in Windows Virtual PC (the software running XP Mode.)

  12. Les Pilkington says:

    I would assume that more people use Windows 7 Home Premium as, again, I’m guessing that it comes on more new PCs than any other version of Windows (I am ready to be corrected on this). Why do you seem to be concentrating on the more..Erm, up-market versions of Windows. We can’t all splash out on Windows Untimate or Professional, it would be nice if we could.
    As XP Mode won’t run on Home Premium, will Windows Virtual PC run on Home Premium?

    1. Rich says:

      Windows Virtual PC supports the following host operating systems:

      * Windows 7 Home Basic
      * Windows 7 Home Premium
      * Windows 7 Enterprise
      * Windows 7 Professional
      * Windows 7 Ultimate


      We concentrate on these versions of Windows because many (even if it’s not all) people use them.

  13. Chrysalis says:

    Thanks for your time and efforts to put together the complex information in simple terms. It is quite informative!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I would like to loadd my Ryan McFarlane Fortran compiler into my XP mode. I have tried but it is not being accepted. What do I have to do now?

  15. Ketan_karnick says:

    Is there a way to installhost Windows Virtual PC(XP mode VM) on a Windows 8 machine? Looking at supporting Windows 7 based XP Mode in our product. Want to know it is XP mode is defined supported in Windows 8? 

Comments are closed.

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