Installing Windows XP Mode on your customer's Windows 7

Use this chapter excerpt to learn the requirements, such as hardware virtualization capabilities, for a Windows XP Mode installation on your customer's Windows 7 computer.

Solution provider's takeaway: Follow the steps and requirements, such as having a supported version of Windows 7, listed in this chapter excerpt to install Windows XP Mode on your customer's Windows 7 computer.

Windows Virtual PC is an optional component of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. Windows Virtual PC allows Windows 7 to run other operating systems as virtual machines. This means the Windows 7 system will be the host where Windows Virtual PC is installed and then guest operating systems may be installed. This feature allows end users and administrators to install legacy applications that may not be compatible with Windows 7 on another operating system and have them appear to be running seamlessly with Windows 7.

Windows XP Mode
Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate support additional features that both administrators and end users can take great advantage of. One of these features is Windows XP Mode. Windows XP Mode is a virtualization technology that gives end users and administrators the ability to use the new features of Windows 7 while allowing the use of critical and essential applications that may not function correctly on Windows Vista or Windows 7. Window XP Mode functions with Windows Virtual PC, which is available for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Windows Virtual PC is an evolution of Virtual PC 2007, a stand-alone product for previous versions of Windows. Windows XP Mode is a separate download from the Microsoft Web site. You will also require Windows Virtual PC, which is also free as a download from Microsoft.

With some limitations, Windows XP Mode is a full version of Windows XP Service Pack 3. Installing a program in Windows XP Mode makes the program available in both Windows XP Mode and Windows 7. This technology allows users and businesses to run legacy applications during the transition to Windows 7. It does not support 3D graphics or applications that require specialized hardware like TV tuners or similar devices.

The following are some specific requirements to run Windows XP Mode:

  • Windows operating systems such as Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate editions.
  • A computer that is capable of hardware virtualization. This means your computer has a central processing unit (CPU) with either Intel-VT or AMD-V virtualization features. If it is a fairly new computer, you will probably have this feature in it.
  • Virtualization features turned on in your computer's basic input/output system (BIOS). These are not always turned on by default so you may need to enter the setup mode of your computer to enable these features.

Verifying Your Windows 7 Version
The first part of loading Windows XP Mode is to make sure that you are running the correct version of Windows 7. You must be running the Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate version of Windows 7. To verify that you are running the correct version, click the Start button | Control Panel | System and Security | System. Confirm the version as shown in Figure 9.1.

Warning Be careful when changing BIOS settings. The BIOS interface is designed for advanced users; it is possible to make changes that could prevent your computer from starting correctly.

Figure 9.1: Windows 7 Version

Figure 9.2: Anytime Upgrade

If you need to upgrade your Windows 7 version, you can click the Get more features with a new edition of Windows 7 hyperlink. This will open a window to ask what you want to do next. This window is shown in Figure 9.2.

Once you select the desired version of Windows 7, you will be prompted for a method of payment. This is the part that is not free, and you will have to pay for the upgrade if you wish to continue with Windows XP Mode. You will receive a license key when the transaction is complete.

Once your new upgrade key is received, you can return to the screen shown in Figure 9.2, and this time select Enter an upgrade key.

Enter your upgrade key in the dialog box, as shown in Figure 9.3, and click Next to activate the Windows 7 upgrade. Click Finish when you have finished the activation.

Confirm Hardware Virtualization
You must have a computer with a CPU that has hardware virtualization capabilities to use Windows XP Mode. This should not be too difficult of a requirement to meet. Most modern processors will have this feature. If you are running a processor from Intel, you will need the Intel-VT feature. AMD processors must have the AMD-V hardware features. Microsoft has created a Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool for your convenience. This tool can be downloaded at com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=0ee2a17f-8538-4619-8d1c-05d27e11adb2&displaylang=en or you can search for havdetectiontool.exe at the Microsoft Downloads Web site.

When you select the Download button, you will be asked to save or run in a window like Figure 9.4. Select Run.

Figure 9.3: Anytime Upgrade Key

Figure 9.4: Security Warning

Another security warning may appear as shown in Figure 9.5. Select Run to continue.

When the license agreement appears, read the license agreement and then click the I accept the license terms box as shown in Figure 9.6. Click Next to continue.

You will receive an informational window similar to Figure 9.7 that will tell you if your computer meets the virtualization requirements.

You could receive one of three possible messages:


  • This computer is configured with hardware-assisted virtualization. This is the message we are looking for. It tells us that we are ready to go!
  • Figure 9.5: Security Warning

    Figure 9.6: License Agreement

    Figure 9.7: Virtualization Detection Message

  • Hardware-assisted virtualization is not enabled on this computer. This means your computer is capable of virtualization, but you will need to enable the hardware virtual assistance in the system BIOS. Please see the warning above before proceeding.
  • This computer does not have hardware-assisted virtualization. This message means that you cannot run Windows XP Mode or Virtual PC. You cannot use these features on your current computer.

You can now select if you want to share this information with Microsoft or not. Select your choice and click OK.

Loading Windows XP Mode
We have now confirmed that we have a supported version of Windows 7 and our computer is capable of supporting virtualization. We are ready to download Windows XP Mode. Windows XP Mode is a complete Virtual Hard Disk with Windows XP Service Pack 3 loaded. This download may take a few minutes to several hours depending on your Internet connection, so plan your day accordingly.

Figure 9.8: Windows XP Mode Download Web Site

Follow these instructions to install Windows XP Mode on your Windows 7 computer:


  1. Make sure you are connected to the Internet and go to the Windows XP Mode download Web page at virtual-pc/download.aspx. You will see a qualification page similar to Figure 9.8.
  2. We have already confirmed Step 1 and Step 2, so select the version of Windows 7 you have running on your computer. Please be careful of the 32-bit or the 64-bit selection. Select your preferred language in the second pull-down list.
  3. Click the Windows XP Mode download button in step four of Figure 9.8. This is a 500MB file, so it might take a few minutes or longer depending on your Internet connection.
  4. You will get a security warning like Figure 9.9.
    a. Click Save to save the download for use on several similar Windows 7 desktops. You will be prompted for a location to save the file.
    b. Click Run if this is the only desktop that will be running Windows XP Mode.
  5. You may be asked for authorization again to start the installation of Windows XP Mode as shown in Figure 9.10. Click Run to continue.
  6. Figure 9.9: Security Warning

    Figure 9.10: Security Warning

  7. Windows XP Mode will start the install process as shown in Figure 9.11. Click Next to continue.
  8. Select the location for the install of Windows XP Mode files. The location is shown in Figure 9.12. You can either accept the default or click the Browse button to select another location. These files are

    Figure 9.11: Welcome Screen

    Figure 9.12: Installation Location

    fairly large, so if you have a larger disk drive that has more space, is faster, or you just want to locate this in a different spot, you may want to select a different location other than the default. Click Next when ready to continue.

  9. The files will begin to load. The installation progress will be similar to Figure 9.13. The progress line will cross a couple of times, so be patient.
  10. Congratulations! You are finished. Click Finish as shown in Figure 9.14.
  11. Next you need to install Virtual PC on your Windows 7 desktop. Start by going back to the Virtual PC Web site in step 1. Click the Windows Virtual PC button as shown in Figure 9.8.
  12. Again you will be asked if you want to Run or Save the download as shown in Figure 9.9. If this is the only desktop you will be loading Virtual PC on select Run. If you have more than one desktop, select Save and pick a folder to store for file. This is only a 10MB file so it won't take quite as long to download.
  13. When the file is finished downloading, you will be asked if it is OK to install the update as shown in Figure 9.15. Click Yes to continue.
  14. The License screen appears. Read the license by scrolling to the bottom or select the printable version and print it out. Click the I Accept button as shown in Figure 9.16 when ready. If you do not want to accept the license, click the I Decline button. This will prevent you from installing the Windows Virtual PC software.
  15. Figure 9.13: Installation Progress

    Figure 9.14: Installation Complete

    Figure 9.15: Stand-Alone Installer

    Figure 9.16: License Screen

  16. The installation will begin. You can track the progress by watching the progress bar as shown in Figure 9.17.
  17. Congratulations! You have successfully completed the install of Virtual PC as shown in Figure 9.18. You will now have to reboot your desktop. You can click the Restart Now button to reboot the computer. You can click Cancel to reboot later.

Figure 9.17: Installation Progress

Figure 9.18: Installation Complete

Virtualization and Windows 7
  Installing Windows XP Mode on your customer's Windows 7
  Setting up and installing applications in Windows XP Mode
  How VARs can use virtualization on a Windows 7 desktop

About the author
Jorge Orchilles holds a master's degree in science in management information systems from Florida International University and is currently a security analyst at a Fortune 20 financial institution.

Printed with permission from Syngress Publishing. Copyright 2010. Microsoft Windows 7 Administrator's Reference by Jorge Orchilles. For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit

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