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Virtualize with Windows XP Mode


Benefits Limitations Basic Requirements Recommendation for Size

User can start Internet Explorer® directly from desktop or Start menu

Windows® XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC are free downloads for Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate

Not as centrally managed as other options

Older hardware might not support Windows XP Mode

Needs to be installed individually on each computer

Requires some user training

Requires only client computer

Recommended 2 GB of RAM and 15 GB of hard disk space

Suitable for small to medium-sized implementations

Windows XP Mode is suitable for small- to medium-sized organizations that have limited server infrastructure. Windows XP Mode uses a new version of Virtual PC to provide seamless access to Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 6, either through a virtual desktop or directly through the Windows 7 desktop.

To learn more about Windows XP Mode, see Windows 7 Features: Windows XP Mode. Also, see Links for Further Information.

What Is Windows XP Mode?

Windows XP Mode is a virtual machine package for Windows Virtual PC that contains a pre-installed, licensed copy of Windows® XP Professional SP3 as its guest operating system. Pre-installed integration components let applications running within the virtualized environment appear in the operating system Start menu as if they were running directly on the host computer.

Be aware that Windows XP Mode applications run in a Terminal Services session in the virtualized instance. The applications are accessed via Remote Desktop Protocol by a client running on the Windows 7 host computer.

For step-by-step guidance for using Windows XP Mode, see Appendix 2: How to Use Windows XP Mode.

Benefits of Using Windows XP Mode

Windows XP Mode is a free option that requires only the Windows XP Mode download and Windows Virtual PC. Both are available as free downloads at Windows XP Mode. Windows XP Mode runs in a separate window on the Windows 7 desktop, much like a program, except it is a fully functional version of the operating system. In Windows XP Mode, you can run Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 6, access your physical computer’s CD/DVD drive, install programs, save files, and perform other tasks as if you were using a computer running .

When you install a program in Windows XP Mode, Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 6 appear in both the Windows XP Mode list of programs and in the Windows 7 list of programs.

Be aware that Windows Virtual PC includes some new improvements, such as the ability to access the computer’s physical hard disk drives (including the host operating system’s volumes) through a virtual machine and USB support. You can learn more at Windows 7 Features: Windows XP Mode. Also, see Links for Further Information.


Depending on the state of the virtual machine, it may take some time to load Internet Explorer 6. The Windows XP Mode option is not as centrally managed as other options; therefore, managing and patching Windows XP Mode can be more cumbersome.

Licensing Considerations

There are no special licensing requirements for using Windows XP Mode; it is free if you have Windows 7 Premium, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate. For more information, see Install and use Windows XP Mode in Windows 7.

System Requirements for Windows XP Mode

Following are the system requirements for Windows XP Mode.

  • Windows 7 (Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate)

  • Windows Virtual PC

  • Windows XP Mode (a virtual machine supplied by Microsoft®)

Microsoft also recommends a minimum of 2 GB of RAM on the host computer and 15 GB of disk space for each Windows XP Mode instance. However, if the only workload that the Windows XP Mode virtual machine will be providing is Internet Explorer, the virtual machine may require less RAM than the base recommendation. Be aware that if your computer does not meet the requirements, Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode will not work correctly, even though you might be able to download and install them.

To find out which edition of Windows 7 you are running, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. The edition of Windows 7 you are running is displayed under Windows edition near the top of the window. If you are not running Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate, you might consider using the Windows Anytime Upgrade to upgrade your edition of Windows 7 to Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate. (Windows 7 Enterprise is not available in Windows Anytime Upgrade.)

Be aware that while hardware-assisted virtualization is not required, it can significantly improve performance.

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