Windows 7 Launch is just around the corner with less than 2 days left and I am sure many of us are raring to upgrade your OS to Windows 7 very soon. Also, some of us are little skeptical of making a move right now since it is not clear if all the software they have installed on Windows XP or Windows Vista are compatible with Windows 7 as well.


Not to worry, with the release of Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions, Microsoft is including a little utility called XP Mode. XP Mode is a virtual machine running Windows XP on Windows 7. Microsoft is giving us XP mode (XPM) as a means to having a fully modern computing environment (via Windows 7) without having to sacrifice legacy support (of Windows XP). Below is a simple usage guide to get started with XP mode.


XP Mode on Windows 7 – Usage Guide

1. Enable Hardware Virtualization

First thing you need to do is, check if your CPU has hardware virtualization support enabled. This is a MUST HAVE for XP Mode to be enabled. To check if your CPU is supported, Intel and AMD both offer utilities to identify your CPU and what features it offers. If your CPU supports virtualization, this feature needs to be enabled in the BIOS.

Check if your Intel processor has hardware virtualization support enabled
Check if your AMD processor has hardware virtualization support enabled

2. Download and Install Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode

Download Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode from Microsoft

Note that XP Mode is a 472Mb file. So make sure you have enough space for installable and the software itself.

  • Install Virtual PC first and then the XP ModeXP mode first and then the Virtual PC. Both installations are straightforward.
  • Launch the XP Mode. Supply a password for local XP Mode user that XP Mode automatically creates on the virtual machine.
  • xpm-user

  • Turn ON or OFF the automatic updates option

When installation is complete XP Mode will launch in Desktop Mode. This is where you will have complete access to the XP environment. It is a completely separate desktop environment from your Windows 7 installation. Both Windows 7 and Windows XP will share a common clipboard and nothing else. This means you cannot drag and drop files/folders from one environment to another. Instead, you can share a USB device between the environments.


3. Seamless Mode

Seamless Mode lets you launch XP apps straight from your Windows 7 menus. In order to use Seamless Mode, install an app under Desktop Mode and then log out and close the virtual machine. The new app you just installed can now be found under Start Menu items of Windows 7 under All Programs –> Windows Virtual PC –> Windows XP Mode Applications.


When the app is launched from Windows 7, XP launches in the background and it appears as if the app is running natively on Windows 7 itself.

It is important to note that XP mode is resource intensive. Running a virtual OS on top of your real OS takes up lots of CPU cycles and memory. Running on a 8GB of RAM, it works with great aplomb. Even 4GB RAM is Manageable. However, running with 1GB of RAM will prove to be somewhat frustrating.

Let me know if you have any doubts or if you have some tips regarding XP Mode.

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