If you need it for legacy software, adding Virtual XP to Windows 7 is a snap; using it on a long-term basis is another story.
I have the latest version of Windows 7 installed on a HD using my Dell Vostro 200 econo-box as the host. I had some trepidation about whether I could mount Windows XP Mode on it because the only BIOS selection are boot options; thankfully virtualization is enabled by default (Intel Core 2 6300 running 2.3 GHz) so I was good to go .
There are two files to download (HERE) from Microsoft, one of which is Virtual PC and the other Windows XP Mode. The first installs the virtualization software on your PC and the other Virtual XP (VXP). Installing VXP is very straightforward – you’ll find a choice in the Start Menu for Virtual XP – click on it and it starts the install:
The usual stuff – next choose a password:
Might as well go with Automatic Updates – don’t forget that this is another OS and will need anti-virus and all the tweaks you have now for running XP:
Did not take long – maybe 10 minutes; this is XP SP3:
And here it is:
Note the menus at the top left – these are particular to the Virtual wrapper. Updates started off the bat:
Click on My Computer and it looks very familiar:
The HD “C on JOE-PC” is the HD containing all Windows files. Why “D” and “E” showed up is beyond me – I don’t have these drives. Click on “Start” and it’s familiar territory:
Right click on Computer and you get:
I tried Device Manager to see what would show up – the “Unknown device” are USB accessories:
One thing I always do is go for performance – works fine here:
Installing AVG 8.5 Free – you need another anti-virus program in addition to the one for Windows 7:
So that’s it – Virtual XP using Windows Virtual PC:
In use I found Virtual XP a tad slower, but nothing like deadly slow. The default install sets RAM at 256 MB – it should be at least 512 for decent performance. XP Mode can be a bit confusing because you can access all the files you have on Windows 7 through XP, so I think you might need some diligence on what’s where. Aside from that it looks, feels and works as XP – no surprise here.
The larger issue in my mind is that you will be maintaining two OSs – you will need an anti-virus program at a minimum for XP. Further at some point you must migrate whatever XP apps drove you to mount Virtual XP as support will terminate in a few years, so all this is a stop-gap, not a long-term solution. Finally Virtual XP is available only for Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate and Enterprise – the high-priced spread.
If you’ve downloaded Windows 7, trying out Virtual XP is a no-brainer, assuming your PC will allow virtualization.