Can I run Windows XP on my new computer with Windows 7?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #48, I look at virtual machines as a way to run XP inside of
another operating system.
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XP on a Windows 7 machine?
The short answer is yes.
There are actually a couple of different ways to do that. The technology
that I recommend is what’s called a “virtual machine.”
What a virtual machine allows you to do is:
Run (in a window) a simulation of a separate computer.
So, you have this other program:
That sets up a simulation of a standalone PC…
Then, on that simulated PC, you can install whatever operating system you
Run another machine in a window
So, for example, on my Mac, I run a software called Parallels. Parallels
allows me to install Windows (in this case, Windows 7) on my Mac in addition
to (or underneath, if you will,) the Mac operating system.
That means that I can open up a Window on my Mac and sure enough:
- In that window is a copy of Windows 7 and all of the applications and so
forth that I might choose to run.
The same thing can happen on a PC. I do it heavily. I have a Windows 7
machine and I have several virtual machines set up on that computer that allow
me to, when I want to:
Run Windows XP;
Run Windows Vista;
Run a different version of Windows 7.
I can even run Ubuntu Linux;
Or anything else that would install and run on a normal PC.
So, virtual machine is the technology.
Virtual machine software
If you want a general-purpose solution, I personally recommend Parallels. But I know
that there are other solutions out there. At least one of which is free, and I
think it’s called Virtual Box from Oracle.
The other solution is:
If you are running Windows 7 Pro version or better (this is not available
for the Home or other editions like that. It’s on Pro or Ultimate or whatever’s
better than Pro);
You have the option of downloading from Microsoft, something called XP
Now all that XP mode is, is exactly what I just described:
It’s a virtual machine.
In this case, it’s a virtual machine that comes pre-configured to run Windows
So what you’ll do is you’ll download it, you’ll install it, and when you run
it, up will come a copy of Windows XP that you can then configure to your
A computer within a computer
It’s a virtual machine;
It runs in a window;
It’s separate from your Windows 7.
You can share files between the two.
They have a copy/paste enabled between the two; but it really is like having
a completely separate machine that happens to be running Windows XP.
I have a couple articles I want to point you at.
- One is, “Virtual machines,
what are they?“
That discusses the whole concept I just mentioned about virtual machines in
- Then there’s another article, “What
is Window 7’s Windows XP mode and I can use it to get Outlook Express
This is an article I wrote not long after Windows 7 came out when people
were concerned about losing Outlook Express.
“XP mode” is a way to get Windows XP on your machine at the same time as
Windows 7 is running.
And yes! It’s Windows XP. It actually comes with Outlook Express.
I don’t recommend Outlook Express for other reasons, so I don’t want to make
that a red herring here, but the fact is Windows XP is available to the users
of Windows 7 Pro or better as a free download.