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How to use Virtual PC with Windows 7

Create virtual machines, run Windows XP applications

Article comments

Windows 7 is already a big hit for Microsoft, according to market share tracker Net Applications, which shows it rising past all the extant versions of Linux and Windows except Vista and XP and into fourth place hot on the heels of the Mac OS X 10.5.

One of its most talked about features is a version of XP built right in to some editions, so it can run in native mode on a virtual machine all those applications that never made the leap compatibility with Windows Vista.

Except XP Mode doesn't come automatically, you have to install it. And it doesn't come with all editions of Windows 7.

Users running Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise have to download both XP Mode and Virtual PC, on which it runs. Those with Home Premium or Starter are stuck. Virtual PC not only doesn't come with those editions, Microsoft theoretically doesn't allow Virtual PC to even run on anything but Vista, XP or the three more exalted editions of Windows 7.

That's not to say Virtual PC doesn't run there, anyway, however. And, fortunately, the installation procedure is the same for Virtual PC whether you're licenced for XP Mode or not.

I loaded and ran it on a laptop running 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium on an Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB of memory. Here's how to get going:

Step 1: Check your Processor

Intel and AMD have both built hooks into their processors that allow the host and guest operating system (the virtual machine) to trade off tasks more smoothly. Virtual PC will work on chips that don't have those hooks, but not well. Microsoft provides a free utility to check your processor. Intel and AMD have their own utilities as well, if you want to double check.

Intel Processor Identification Utility

AMD Virtualisation and Hyper-V compatibility Check

Once you know if the silicon supports it, check to see if your BIOS is set up to use those hooks. Chances are, for most desktops and laptops, it's not. Microsoft offers instructions and links to specific manufacturers here.

Step 2: Download Virtual PC

Microsoft requirements call for a 400 MHz or above Pentium-compatible processor, 35 MB of disk space and Windows XP or Vista. There are 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Virtual PC cares about the difference. The newest version of Virtual PC supports USB peripherals and are supposed to be able to support 64-bit operating systems within the VM as well. Either way, get the right edition for your machine.

Step 3: Build your VM

Once you've downloaded the installation package, launch it and follow instructions. Then click the Start menu and find Virtual PC. It will launch a Wizard that offers the choice of opening an existing virtual PC, creating one with default settings or will walk you through the process of configuring one yourself. Pick the latter to do things like increasing the RAM available to the VM from the default of 128 MB to a gigabyte, or raise the default virtual hard disk size from 16 GB to something with enough room for an OS and any applications you want to run only within the VM. The whole process takes less time than it does to install most bits of freeware. But that's only the configuration, not the VM itself.


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ProtectandAccess said: Virtual Machine is avery good concept I have tried it in Windows xp and Windows 7 both But sorryto say i was fail But i will try again after reading this post Thank yourman

Quantumpcsupport said: Great tips for windowsusers People who wanted virtual pc in windows 7 will be happy to know thatthey could it now

Brian Davison said: Im upgrading to Win 7 but have lots of stuff I use daily in the past I have left the old drive in the machine booted inot the new OS whatn I have time to install stuff and the old to do actual work until ready to swapcan I do the same thing only in a virtual machine run win7 and the apps I ahve installed with my old XP setup for stuff I have not got installed in 7 yetI would not want the old stuff integrated yet - a complete virtual old machine using the space of the old hard driveWhen Im ready I would then remove the old drive and set up XP mode in its normal guise for the few 16 bit apps I have left And keep the old drive ready to boot in case of troubleIs this possibleIs windows virtual machine or VMware the best choice for a full disc image of an exisiting installation

Epp Brandon said: the programs that i try to run on virtual pc say its not supported by virtual pc is there anyway around this

Adam Taemur said: Since I have W7HP I need to run it in compactibility view

ChizK said: I found the initial reason for my failure although I have automatic updates Service Pack 1 was not installled --- ensure you do this firstNB this caused me a lot of problems After downloading hundreds of megabytes it did not install After retrying it did not install After rebooting and going through a VERY worrying period of the machine looking like it had crashed during off and on and then retrying it eventually installedSo I could run VPC and get it to add a Virtual Machine The next bit is the installation TIP you can use the WINXP Mode executable file to get WIN XP Service Pack 3 although it is unlicensedAfter reading a post in mydigitallifeinfo I installed 7-zip and used this to extract all the files from the XP Mode installation executable This extracted a directory called Sources A file within this directory called xpm can also be uncompressed providing the virtual hard disk called VirtualXPVHDNOTE add the vhd extension to this file and move if you wishYou can now run Virtual PC and chose Create Virtual MachineThis looks like you only have an option to create a new machine but following screens allow you to select an existing virtual hard disk you can use the same directory as that containing the vhd file you just extracted as the Location in the initial screenOnce the virtual machine is running you will go through the Win XP installation process resulting in an unregistered trial installationNOTE - this installation is OEM and will only register OEM keyssome imaginitive people can deal with that a question of morals

ChizK said: Sorry Im afraid your comment is misleading to those who have Home Premium on a machine without hardware virtualisation as I do and have just tried to installThis will NOT workeventhough the instructions above say that it will Virtual PC will work on chips that dont have those hooks but not wellI know I just wasted my time after reading this guideI installed VPC without any problems It installed vmwindowexe ver 61760016393 which states Windows Virtual PC cannot start because this computer does not support hardware-assisted virtualization when Create Virtual Machine is selectedNB I did not install XP mode as the guide above suggests that it is only compulsory for Professional Ultimate or Enterprise If this was a major ommision please reply I assume not as the instructions are only in regard to the installation of VPC Once youve downloaded the installation package launch it and follow instructions

Wendy said: Thank you so much for this guide It worked perfectly for me on my HP DV6 64 bit notebook running Windows 7 Premium I was so disappointed when I discovered that Windows 7 Premium was not compatable with my old DOS based software I use for my genealogy research Thought Id have to keep my old notebook running to use it but not now thanks to this guide Excellent Microsoft has failed again for its customers

jack said: I am using both XP as well as windows 7 Both are good but I still love to work on xp

alf ipititimus said: or just install a dual boot system which wont drain system resources as you still have to install the extra OS anyway

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