Is running Windows XP in a virtual machine as risky as running XP natively?

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I’m replacing all of my computers that operate with Windows XP; I have one laptop that runs Windows 7 Pro; I run one program, a specialty program for Dentistry with the Windows Virtual PC, XP mode, on that Windows 7 Pro laptop. Is running this in Windows XP mode as risky as running Windows XP after support for XP ends?

This is a really good question. I’m glad you asked, because I’m afraid that a number of people might be making some dangerous assumption about virtual machines and XP mode.

It is in fact, one of the common recommendations for folks that have software such as you do, that can’t be run on anything after Windows XP, to use a virtual machine to be able to run Windows XP and that special software. (XP mode is really just a virtual machine.)

Is it as risky as running XP natively? Well, yes and no, but mostly yes.

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What to Do About Windows XP

Transcript (lightly edited)

Hi Everyone! I’m Leo Notenboom from askleo.com coming to you today from the palatial travel trailer where I often do many of the AnswerCast recordings. It actually has a nice, not too echo-y feel to it based on the internals. It’s basically a good, portable recording studio. Although today you may hear a little bit of wind in the background since we’re actually in the middle of a little bit of a windstorm.

So, over the past couple of months, I’d say that Windows XP related questions, most  boiling down to “What do I do about Windows XP support ending this coming April?”, have been very common. I want to go over what some of my suggestions are; what you need to do depending on your situation to deal with the end of life of Windows XP.

Read moreWhat to Do About Windows XP

Windows XP Must Die! Long Live Windows XP!

I want you to stop using Windows XP. It’s time to move to a more modern – and more importantly, a supported – operating system.

If you can’t or won’t stop using Windows XP, then I want it to work as well for you as it can for as long as it can. To that end, I’ve cut the price of the PDF version of Maintaining Windows XP – A Practical Guide in half.

Yes, I’m sending a mixed message, but I’m not alone; so is Microsoft, who recently extended the length of time their anti-malware tools would continue to be updated. This confusion in their messaging is driven as much by the people sticking with Windows XP as much as anything else.

It’s time to say good bye to Windows XP

As much as we might love Windows XP, it’s time to say goodbye. It really is.

And no amount of complaining about what Microsoft should do, should have done, could do, or won’t do will help or change that.

They’re going to do what they’re going to do. Just like Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 before it, Windows XP will very shortly be unsupported.

The safest thing to do (and in my opinion, the right thing to do) is to move to another operating system. I’m not even saying that it needs to be a version of Windows. What matters is that the operating system is current and supported by its vendor and that it does whatever it is that you need it to do.

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How risky will it be to keep running Windows XP?

I’ve had a few people mention to me a recent blog post by Microsoft1, discussing what the company feels are some of the many risks associated with continuing to run Windows XP after the end of support in April of 2014.

I’ve had more people point me at “press” (I put press in quotation marks because many don’t actually deserve to be referred to as legitimate and reputable) reports based on that same post. These run the range from a relatively accurate reporting of what was said to an all-out “Microsoft is introducing zero-day vulnerabilities in XP that they won’t fix so you’re forced to switch!!!” hyperbole.

As is so often the case, the truth is much more nuanced than that.

And yet, it is important.

Read moreHow risky will it be to keep running Windows XP?

Will Windows XP Keep Working after Support Ends?

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Lots of people on the web think that when support for XP SP3 ends, the OS will no longer work. If I’m correct, patches will end like they did before (Windows 98). So what is the harm in me continuing to use this old machine with viruses and spyware? With an iPod, I can’t think of what I would really get in a new PC with Windows 8 or 9 if I wait long enough. I don’t buy much software  anymore. I use Chrome because IE doesn’t work anymore. I also have an Ubuntu DVD burned for banking. I run it directly off the DVD to avoid viruses. And I ran several scans before I burned the thing last year. Should I rush out and get a new HP compact tower before they’re no longer made?

No, you don’t need to run out and getting a new tower before they’re no longer made.

Let me address your questions here more or less in order.

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