Set up Windows XP Mode

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows XP

Setting up Windows XP Mode consists of either one or two phases, depending on whether the Windows XP Mode package has already been installed on your computer. The first phase installs Windows XP Mode (including the parent virtual hard disk) on the computer. The second phase is always required. It sets up a virtual instance of Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3 (SP3) as a virtual machine. When you set up this virtual instance, you will be prompted to configure the following:

  • Credentials for Windows XP Mode. You will specify a password for the XPMUser account, which is a required account that the wizard creates automatically. It is the default account that is used to run Windows XP Mode and the virtual applications you install in the virtual instance of Windows XP with SP3. If you do not want to enter the password each time you start Windows XP Mode, you can store the credentials.


Any application that runs on the host in the context of the user logged on to the host can access the credentials stored for Windows XP Mode.

  • Drive sharing. When you share drives on the computer with Windows XP Mode, you can easily copy and paste data between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7, and you can save files to locations in Windows 7 from virtual applications. For more information about sharing drives, see Share host drives with a virtual machine.

  • Automatic Updates. Choose whether to configure Windows XP Mode for Automatic Updates. For more information, see About Automatic Updates in Windows XP.


We recommend that you select to receive Automatic Updates because Windows XP Mode relies on the Windows Update service to obtain updates for Windows XP with SP3. To ensure that Windows XP with SP3 receives updates, both the host computer and the virtual machine must be connected to the Internet—and the Windows Update service must be configured in the virtual machine that runs Windows XP Mode.

If Windows XP Mode is not installed on your computer, you can download the Windows XP Mode installation package, which is distributed separately from Windows Virtual PC. This package is distributed free of charge and contains a preactivated copy of Windows XP with SP3 in .vhd file format. To download the package, see the Windows Virtual PC home page (


We recommend that you keep an archival copy of the Windows XP Mode package (WindowsXPMode_xx-XX.exe, where xx-XX is the locale) as a backup in case you need to restore the Windows XP Mode environment. For example, you could burn the .exe package to CD or DVD and store it in the same location as your other installation media. An archival copy is recommended because the Windows XP Mode environment uses two virtual hard disks—a parent virtual hard disk and a differencing disk. The differencing disk is unusable without the parent disk. If the parent disk is deleted or damaged and you need to recreate an existing Windows XP Mode environment, you must use the same parent virtual hard disk that was used when you set up Windows XP Mode.

To set up Windows XP Mode

  1. Open the Windows XP Mode shortcut. From the Start menu, click Windows Virtual PC, and then click Windows XP Mode. If you are not prompted to download the setup file, proceed to step 2. Otherwise, complete the following steps:

    1. Download Windows XP Mode from the Windows Virtual PC home page (

    2. Double-click WindowsXPMode_xx-XX.exe, where xx-XX indicates the locale (for example, WindowsXPMode_en-US.exe).

    3. Windows XP Mode Setup opens. If you do not want to store the virtual hard disk file on the system drive, specify a different location.

      Proceed through the remaining pages of the setup wizard to complete the installation. To complete the next part of the process without interruption, leave the option Launch Windows XP Mode selected. Otherwise, to continue later, click Start, open Windows Virtual PC, and click Windows XP Mode.

  2. Windows XP Mode Setup opens and displays the license agreement. To use Windows XP Mode, you must accept the license agreement. Click Next to proceed through the pages and complete the setup.


We recommend that you avoid canceling Windows XP Mode Setup—you should complete it in one session.

After you set up Windows XP Mode, note the following:

  • The virtual machine is ready for you to customize by installing the applications you want to use. After you install the applications, you can open them directly from the Start menu of the host operating system. For instructions, see Publish and use virtual applications.

  • To configure printing, see Configure printers for Windows XP.

  • Windows XP Mode uses “shared networking (NAT)” (network address translation) as the default type of network connectivity. You can change this connectivity by modifying the network settings. For more information, see Configure networking for virtual machines.

See Also


Windows Virtual PC Help
Configuring a virtual machine
Using a virtual machine
Troubleshooting Windows Virtual PC