Note: Windows 8(.1) no longer has the Windows XP Mode. The Hyper-V feature can be enabled in the Enterprise and Pro edition to host a Windows 7 or Windows XP VM for applications that do not run in compatibility mode.


The biggest concern for a company that wants to migrate its operating system from Windows XP to Windows 7 is the software compatibility. Almost all were developed or adapted to run on Windows XP only. There are several methods to make these applications work with Windows 7 as the File and Registry Virtualization, Compatibility Tab, Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5, Shims, etc. These can already solve a big part of these compatibility issues, but some software need features or APIs that exist in Windows XP only. Will you cancel or wait to migrate to a great system as Windows 7 with several features that would greatly help in the daily of administrators and the support because of that? The answer sounds like a choir - YES! This is the main reason to hold a migration of workstations in most cases. The big question is: how to migrate to Windows 7 without worrying about the software in XP? Windows XP Mode is the solution. We will see in this article a brief description, prerequisites, installation and configuration of this feature that will help you with the application compatibility problems.

Windows XP Mode

Microsoft has released Windows XP Mode in late August 2009, that is nothing more than a virtual machine that emulates the applications installed on it to the host using the capabilities of Integration Components (ICs) so that this software is available in a form of easily accessible, transparent and without much difficulty to the user.

XP Mode uses the principles of virtualization to create a link between the virtual machine (VM) and Windows host using the Virtual PC. Every application, in this case runs on Windows XP, but it's so normal and simple that it looks like software installed on the host itself, except for the color scheme and fonts of the window that resembles the XP.


To use Windows XP Mode we must have the following prerequisites:

• Windows 7 (Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise)

• Virtual PC Windows

• Windows XP Mode

NOTE: Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode can be downloaded from the site


Once we have installed Windows Virtual PC, double click the installation executable of Windows XP Mode and wait while the wizard loads the necessary files.

1 - Windows XP Setup Mode

Choose the installation path and click Next.

2 - Installation path

After starting the installation, click OK on the message from User Account Control.

he setup will copy and configure a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) for the VM of Windows XP. Click Finish when done. Windows XP Mode starts automatically.

3 - Completing the Installation

After installation, we need to configure Windows XP Mode. To do so, accept the license terms on the home screen and click Next.

4 - License Terms

The next screen displays the path where the VHD and VMC files are copied.

Moreover, the setup also asks for a password to be used in the VM. So we don’t need to specify the password every time it is booted.

5 - The file path and user credentials

Choose the options for automatic updates and click Start Setup.

6 - Configuring Automatic Updates

TIP: Follow the installation process, because you can see a tutorial with some tips of Windows XP mode.

After finishing, the Windows XP virtual machine is displayed as Figure 7.

7 - Configuration of Windows XP Mode Virtual machine

For some simple configurations such as audio, printers, networking and many other options you have to click on the top menu in Tools and then Settings.

8 - Integration Options

It's possible the mouse integration, local disks and external USB, audio, printers, etc. An interesting new feature is that now you can add multiple USB devices in Windows XP mode, which facilitates the installation of a specific program from a pen drive or via Bluetooth device, for example.

Figure 9 – USB Devices

10 - Disk devices from the host machine

Now that you have the Windows XP mode VM configured, just install on the VM's the specific applications that will be used by users from Windows 7. I’ve installed two programs as examples and to open them just try it in the start menu, as figure 11.

If you cannot see the programs in the Start Menu into the host computer, just copy the program shortcut in the virtual machine in the path C:\Documents and Settings\All users\Start Menu\

Figure 11 - Windows XP Mode menu from Windows 7

Leandro Carvalho
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