Whether it’s for nostalgia or to run an older application, there are advantages to running a Windows XP virtual machine—for the right reasons. It’s not recommended to run Windows XP as your only operating system, as it’s outdated, unsupported, and full of security risks.
Thankfully, it’s entirely possible to set up a Windows XP virtual machine for free. While the official methods require a Windows 7 PC, you can use Windows 10 and other operating systems, although this requires a workaround. To prepare Windows XP to run as a virtual machine, you’ll have to catch these instructions exactly.
Downloading Windows XP and Extracting Installation Files
To start utilizing the Windows XP virtual machine, you’ll have to use a computer running Windows 10, with virtualization enabled in the BIOS or UEFI settings. You can use another OS, but these directions have been designed with Windows 10 in mind.
The OS you use will also require to be supported by VirtualBox, the software we’ll use to run Windows XP.
- If your computer is ready, download the Windows XP Mode EXE file by visiting the Microsoft website (named WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe). If the data is no longer hosted on Microsoft, it is also available on CNET. Once downloaded, don’t run the file. This XP program installer is only available for Windows 7, so we’ll require to extract the data you’ll lack from it to get XP to run on Windows 10.
- If your computer doesn’t already have, it installed, download and install 7-Zip before you continue. Once the 7-Zip program is installed, find your Windows XP installer file in Windows File Explorer, then right-click the file.
- Here, navigate to 7-Zip > Open archive > Cab to open the EXE file in the 7-Zip File Manager.
- From the 7-Zip File Manager, double-click the Sources folder, next double-click the xpm file. This will start a second 7-Zip File Manager screen holding your Windows XP virtual machine files.
- Choose the contents before pressing the Extract button.
- Choose a suitable location for your files. You may need to create a new folder before you do this. Once you’re set, press OK to extract the files to your computer.
- Open the folder holding your Windows XP data in Windows File Explorer. Find the VirtualXPVHD file, right-click > Rename, then modify the name from VirtualXPVHD to VirtualXP.VHD, adding a session between XP and VHD.
You are attaching the VHD file extension that turns this file to a virtual hard disk file, supported by VirtualBox, empowering you to run Windows XP as a virtual machine.
Setting Up a Windows XP Virtual Machine throughVirtualBox
After you’ve extracted the Windows XP download data, you’re able to start setting it up as a virtual machine.
- First, you’ll need to download and install VirtualBox. Once installed, open VirtualBox and clicked the new button to begin creating a new virtual machine.
- In the Create Virtual Machine screen, press the Expert Mode button at the base.
- Enter Windows XP in the Name box to automatically configure the settings to fill XP. Double-check that the Version is set to Windows XP (32-bit), then insert the Memory Size to about 512MB or greater. You can go big, although XP will be nice with less.
- In the Hard Disk section of the Create Virtual Machine screen, choose to use an existing hard disk file. Click the folder symbol next to it, then press Add in the Hard Disk Selector pop up.
- Discover the VirtualXP.VHD file, then press Open to add it. Once VirtualXP.VHD arrives in the Hard Disk Selector screen; choose it, then press the Choose button.
- Once you’ve reverted to the Create Virtual Machine screen, cross-check the settings are right before pressing the Create button.
Final VirtualBox Configuration and Windows XP Testing
Your recently created Virtual XP simulator will appear as a virtual machine in the VirtualBox Manager. You’ll need to make a few changes before you begin driving it, however.
- Inside VirtualBox Manager, choose your XP virtual machine and press the Settings button to start the configuration.
- Click the System tab first. Under Boot Order, uncheck Floppy, then reorder the items into the following order using the side arrows: Hard Disk, Optical, Floppy, and Network.
- Click the Display tab. Expand the Video Memory from 16MB to 128MB via the slider in the Screen section.
- Once your settings are correct, click OK to save your Windows XP virtual machine settings. You can now start your XP machine for the first time by pressing the Start button.
- You’ll have to verify some primary XP settings when you run XP for the first time as a virtual machine, such as your keyboard layout and time zone. Confirm these settings at each stage by pressing the Next button.
- Provide your XP virtual machine a name, as well as give an Administrator password. You can neglect the password blank if you’d prefer. Click Next to proceed.
- After settling your time and date environments, XP will complete the setup process and reboot. Once this has been achieved, click Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD Image in your VirtualBox window. This will install additional applications and settings to make your XP practice work better in VirtualBox.
- Heed the setup process, clicking Continue Anyway to any driver warnings that pop up.
- Through the VirtualBox Guest Additions installed, press Finish to reboot your XP virtual machine.
The Windows XP virtual device that loads at this point can only be utilized for 30 days as it requires a valid license. If you can obtain the Windows license code for Windows XP (from an older computer, for example), you may be able to append it to your virtual machine straight, although it may still not activate.
To avoid this, produce a snapshot of your virtual machine immediately after making it.
- With your XP virtual machine working, press Machine > Take Snapshot. Provide you’re initial Windows XP Snapshot a name before clicking the OK button.
- If you need to recover the virtual machine to this snapshot later, click the menu icon next to your XP virtual machine in VirtualBox Manager and pick Snapshots. From here, choose your snapshot before clicking the Restore button.
Restoring your Windows XP virtual machine via a snapshot will reset the clock, enabling you to use XP regularly. Though, you will lose any files or applications you’ve installed after this point.