How to Install XP on a Windows 7 Computer

Updated April 17, 2017

Although much of the older software still in use will work correctly under Windows 7, some software may refuse to run due to the changes in the operating system. Microsoft released Windows XP Mode for these cases, allowing Windows XP to run in a window on Windows 7 using Microsoft Virtual PC. It appears to any software running in XP Mode that it is running on its own dedicated computer using a standard copy of Windows XP, and so there are no issues with incompatibility. The XP Mode virtual PC can access the host operating system's drives and network connection.

Open a Web browser and visit Microsoft's Windows XP Mode page (see Resources). Select your version of Windows 7 and the required language once the page loads.

Click on the "Download" button next to "Step 2" to download the Windows XP Mode virtual machine. The download is up to 500MB in size, so downloading may take a while depending on the speed of your connection. Click the "Continue" button when asked to validate your copy of Windows 7. Click "Continue" again once the validation procedure is complete to proceed to the download. Click "Save" from the dialogue box to save the Windows XP Mode installer to your computer's hard disk.

Right-click the "Start" menu and click "Open Windows Explorer." Go to the location where you saved the Windows XP Mode installer, then double-click on the file. Click "Next" at the "Welcome to Setup" dialogue box, then choose the location for XP Mode to install its virtual disk and click "Next." Click the "Finish" button when the installation is completed.

Click on the "Download" button next to "Step 3" on the XP Mode page to download the Microsoft Virtual PC installer. Save the file to your hard disk when prompted. Double-click on the file in Windows Explorer to start the install. When prompted to install "Update for Windows (KB958559)," click "Yes," then click "I Accept" to agree to the license terms. Click "Restart Now" to restart your computer once the installation is complete.

Return to the Windows XP Mode page on the Microsoft website, and click the "Update" button next to "Step 4." This is only required if you have not installed Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Double-click on the update to install once it has downloaded.

Click on the "Start" menu, then click on "All Programs." Click on the new "Virtual PC" folder to open, then click "Windows XP Mode" to launch it. Click to accept the license terms, then choose the location where XP Mode will store files by default. Enter a password for the user, then type it again to confirm. Click "Next" to continue. Turn on automatic updates, then click "Next." Finally, click "Start Setup" to configure XP Mode and complete the installation process. Windows XP Mode now starts and is ready to use.


Use Microsoft Virtual PC to run other operating systems, such as Linux on your PC. Reinstall XP Mode to create a new, fresh install of Windows XP.


Windows XP Mode runs in a virtual PC, which is separate to the host operating system and so requires the installation of its own antivirus or security package.

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About the Author

Gareth Downes-Powell has been writing since 2000. He has contributed to a number of U.K. magazines, including "Web Designer," and has co-written four IT-related books published by Apress and Wrox. He has also worked as a technical editor on a number of titles for U.K. and U.S. publishers. Downes-Powell attended Thanet Technical College, achieving A-Levels in computer science, math and physics.