Configuring and using Windows XP Mode

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows XP

Windows XP Mode provides a virtual Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 (SP3) environment for computers running Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows 7 Enterprise. You can use this environment to run your applications for Windows XP directly from the Windows 7 desktop.

If you want to use Windows XP as a guest operating system, we recommend that you use Windows XP Mode if it is available for the version of Windows 7 you are using. This option is faster than creating your own virtual machine because Windows Virtual PC creates the virtual machine for you, configures it to run Windows XP, and installs the following:

  • The Integration Components package. These components improve the experience of using a virtual machine by providing features that improve the interactions between the virtual machine and the physical computer. For more information, see About integration features.

  • Support for virtual applications. This feature requires an update to the guest operating system. In Windows XP Mode, this update is already installed.


Although some of the features of Windows Virtual PC improve the integration between the host operating system and a guest operating system, such as Windows XP, the operating systems are separate and must be managed separately. For example, to receive the maintenance benefits provided by features and tools such as Windows Update and antivirus programs, you must install and run them in the guest operating system.

For more information and instructions about setting up Windows XP Mode, see Set up Windows XP Mode.

About storage in Windows XP Mode

By default, Windows XP Mode uses space on the system drive to store the virtual machine and virtual hard disks. The virtual machine requires two virtual hard disks:

  • A parent virtual hard disk. The default location is %systemdrive%\Program Files\Windows XP Mode. Your computer manufacturer may have already installed the parent disk on your computer. If not, you can download the installation package and specify a location to store the parent disk during setup. For more information, see Set up Windows XP Mode.

  • A differencing virtual hard disk. By default, Windows XP Mode Setup creates this disk at %systemdrive%\Users\<username>\ AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines. However, you can change this location during setup, or you can change this location later by using the following steps to move the differencing disk.

To move the differencing disk

  1. If the virtual machine is running or hibernated, shut it down.

  2. In the host operating system, open Windows Explorer. Move the differencing disk from the existing location to the new location.

  3. Open the settings for the virtual machine. Do one of the following:

    • In the Virtual Machines folder, right-click the name of the virtual machine, and then click Settings.

    • From the virtual machine window, click the Tools menu, and then click Settings.

  4. In the left pane of the Windows Virtual PC Settings page, click Hard Disk 1.

  5. Click Virtual hard disk file. Type the full path, including file name, to the Windows XP Mode.vhd file—or click Browse, navigate to the .vhd file, and then click Open.

  6. Click OK to save the change.

  7. Start the virtual machine. The virtual machine will use the differencing disk of Windows XP from the new location.

See Also


About Automatic Updates in Windows XP
Configure printers for Windows XP
Configuring a virtual machine
Windows Virtual PC Help