Skip to content Skip to navigation

Windows XP Mode for Windows 7


Windows XP Mode uses virtualization technology to provide a virtual Windows XP environment for Windows 7. This allows you run administrative applications that have not yet been certified for Windows 7 and some older Windows XP applications that may not run otherwise on Windows 7.

In order to use Windows XP Mode you need to download and install the following files, in the order listed. The files are available free of charge from Microsoft.

  1. Windows XP Mode
  2. Windows Virtual PC
  3. Windows XP Mode update

Before installing Windows XP Mode, make sure your computer meets the following system requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise
  • Processor: 1 GHz 32-bit / 64-bit
  • Memory (RAM): 2 GB or higher recommended
  • Hard disk space: 15 GB per virtual Windows environment recommended

Install Windows XP Mode

  1. Go to Microsoft's Download Windows XP Mode page.
  2. Select your edition of Windows 7 and desired language for installation and then click Windows XP Mode.

    To find out which edition of Windows 7 you're running, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.

    download Windows XP Mode
  3. When the Windows validation required message is displayed, click Continue.

    install Windows validation components
  4. If the Windows validation software is not installed, run the software.When the installation has completed, click Continue. Otherwise, wait until the validation has completed and then click Continue.

    Windows validation was successful
  5. When prompted, click Run to install the program immediately or click Save to save the file to your computer and then double-click the file to start the installation.

    run Windows XP Mode installer
  6. If you are prompted to run the Windows XP Mode software, click Run.

    run Windows XP Mode software
  7. When the Welcome to Setup for Windows XP Mode dialog box is displayed, click Next.

    Setup for XP Mode welcome page
  8. Next, you will be prompted to specify the location for the virtual hard disk file. To accept the default location, click Next. To choose different location, click Browse and select another location.

    choose location for virtual hard disk file
  9. Click Finish to exit Setup.

    setup completed

Install Windows Virtual PC

  1. Return to Microsoft's Download Windows XP Mode page and click the button to download and install Windows Virtual PC.
  2. Open the Windows Virtual PC installer file.

    file download
  3. When prompted to install the update for Windows, click Yes.

    Prompt to install update for Windows
  4. Read the license terms and then click I Accept.

    license agreement
  5. When the installation has completed, click Close and install the Windows XP Mode update. (You will restart your computer after installing the update.)

    installation complete

Install Windows XP Mode update

  1. Return to Microsoft's Download Windows XP Mode page and click the button to download and install Windows XP Mode update.
  2. Follow the prompts to download and install the update. (The process is similar to installing Windows Virtual PC.)
  3. When the installation has completed, click Restart Now for the updates to take effect.

    installation complete

Set up Windows XP Mode for first use

  1. Click the Start button, click All Programs, click Windows Virtual PC, and click Windows XP Mode.

    open Window XP Mode
  2. Accept the license terms and then click Next.

    Windows XP Mode license agreement
  3. On the Installation folder and credentials page:
    • If you do not want to accept the default location where Windows XP Mode files will be stored, click Browse and choose a new location.
    • Enter a password and then enter it again to confirm it.
    • Microsoft recommends that you check the box for Remember credentials. Otherwise, you will have to enter your password each time you start Windows XP mode.
    • Click Next to continue.

    Windows XP Mode credentials

  4. Click Help protect my computer by turning on Automatic Updates and then click Next.

    turn on automatic updates
  5. Click Start Setup.

    start setup

  6. After setup is complete (this may take a while), Windows XP Mode opens in a separate window.

    Windows XP Mode window

Best practices

Install anti-virus software

Anti-virus software is not included with Windows XP Mode. Even if anti-virus software is already installed on your Windows 7 computer, you should also install anti-virus software in Windows XP Mode. Sophos Anti-Virus is Stanford's site-licensed anti-virus and anti-malware software. It is available free of charge to people who have a full-service SUNet ID.

Install applications in Windows XP Mode and run them from Windows 7

To run the programs you installed in Windows XP Mode from your Windows 7 desktop:

  1. Click the Start button, click All Programs, click Windows Virtual PC, and click Windows XP Mode to open Windows XP Mode.
  2. Install the Windows XP application and make sure to choose All Users when you are asked during the installation process.
  3. If selecting all users is not an option you can manually add it as follows:
    • Right-click Start and then click Open All Users
    • The All Users\Start Menu directory will open. Create a shortcut for the application and copy it to the All Users\Start Menu directory.
  4. At the top left of the Windows XP Mode window, click Action and then click Sleep to leave the Windows XP environment.
  5. From Windows 7, click Start, click All Programs, click Windows Virtual PC, click Windows XP Mode Applications, and then click the application you want to run.

    run Windows XP applications from Windows 7

Get more information

For more information about setting up Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, check out the Support and Videos on the Microsoft Windows Virtual PC site.

Last modified May 3, 2010