How to Setup Windows XP Virtual Machine for Free

Whether it is nostalgia or something else, but for whatever reason that you want to setup Windows XP Virtual Machine, we are here to help you do just that.

Although it is not recommended to install Windows XP as your only running windows operating system because of the security reasons and lack of support, you can easily use it with Windows 7 computer. 

However, for a Windows 10 computer, you will have to use a Virtual PC or a new Windows XP virtual machine as a workaround.

Run XP Mode on Windows Machines Using VirtualBox

Before you move forward and install Windows XP, ensure that you have virtualization turned on in your BIOS settings and VirtualBox software installed and set up on your system.

That said, let us dive into the steps to help you set up Windows XP.

1. Download the Virtual Hard Disk for Windows XP Mode

2. Install the Windows XP Mode in a Virtual Machine

3. Final Virtual Machine Configuration and Windows XP Testing

4. Run the Windows XP Virtual Machine

5. Use snapshot feature of Virtual Machine

Setup Windows XP Virtual Machine

1. Download the Virtual Hard Disk for Windows XP Mode

If you have a Windows 7 or 10 PC or laptop, you can use XP by “XP mode.” This feature of Windows 7 and 10 allows you to use XP programs natively in a virtual environment.

Step 1. Navigate to the Microsoft website for downloading the Windows XP Mode file. Alternatively, if the file is unavailable you can download the software from CNET page.

setup windows XP virtual machine - mode installation window

Step 2. Do not run the .exe file. You have to extract some files from it for installing XP on Windows 7 or 10. Right-click on the download and go to 7-Zip -> Open archive -> cab option.

Step 3. Inside the executable file, there will be three items. Open the “sources” folder, and inside it, right-click on the “xpm” folder.

Step 4. Select all of this folder and click on the Extract button.

Step 5. Browse the location that you want to extract the items to and create a new folder. Click OK.

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Step 6. Open the folder you created and go to the VirtualXPVHD file and rename it to VirtualXP.VHD. It represents the hard drive of the XP virtual machine.

Step 7. Now the file is bootable and can be run on the virtual computer.

2. Download and Install Windows XP Mode in a Virtual Machine

Now that you have the VirtualXP.vhd hard drive file, it’s time to install XP mode in VirtualBox.

Step 1. Start the VirtualBox application and go to the “New” button.

Step 2. Choose Expert Mode in the Create Virtual Machine window. If you get an option for Guided Mode, then you are already in Expert Mode.

Step 3. Enter “Windows XP” in the name box to configure the settings such as Version and Type. Ensure that the version is set to Windows XP (32-bit).

Step 4. Assign memory of 521MB or higher to the 32-bit system.

Step 5. In the Hard disk panel, select “Use an existing virtual hard disk file and then navigate to the folder to where you extracted the VirtualXP.vhd file and tap on the file. Press Open to install the VM from the file.

Step 6. Press the Create button once you have made the above changes.

3. Final Virtual Machine Configuration and Windows XP Testing

Now that you have created your Virtual XP simulator, it is time to make a few changes so that the operating system can run smoothly on your system.

Step 1. Go to VirtualBox Manager and click on your XP virtual machine. Now, tap on the Settings option.

Step 2. In the Settings window, go to the System tab and uncheck the Floppy option from the Boot Order menu.

Step 3. Reorder the Boot Order menu using the up and down arrows in the sequence: Hard Disk, Optical, Network, and Floppy.

Step 4. Now, go to the Display tab and use the slider to increase the video memory to 128MB from 16MB.

Once you are done with Settings and display, it is time to move on to the Network tab. This is especially necessary if you use an older version of VirtualBox, as it needs to be set up manually. The newer versions automatically pick up the network configuration.

For example, some XP Mode virtual machines work using the default configuration, i.e., NAT, VirtualBox-specific adapter, and correct cable connection.

Step 1. If the default configuration doesn’t work for you once you start the machine, you can set the following configuration:

Set “Host-only Adapter” in the Attached to option.

Set “VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter” in the Name option.

Set “Deny” in the Promiscuous Mode.

Tick the Cable connected check box.

Step 2. Click OK to apply the changes.

Step 3. Enter “Network” in the search bar and select “Network and Sharing Center.”

Step 4. Click on the “Change adapter settings” option and select your Ethernet/wireless card and the VirtualBox Host-Only Network by pressing and holding the Ctrl button.

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Step 5. Right-click on the screen and choose “Bridge connection” to combine the adapters. The bridging connection allows the virtual machine to connect to the network without direct access to the router.

4. Run the Windows XP Virtual Machine

Now that you are all set, let’s boot up Windows XP in the virtual machine.

Step 1. Go to VirtualBox Manager and click on your Windows XP virtual machine. Now, click on the Start button.

Step 2. You need to do a few configurations in the Windows XP Professional Setup wizard during the initial boot.

Step 3. Tap on the Next button on every screen after you verify the settings.

Step 3. In one configuration, the wizard will ask you to set up the keyboard layout and time zone. Set these as per your requirements and hit Next.

Step 4. The wizard will ask you to set a computer name and put an administrator password. Enter the computer name and the admin password at your convenience. If you want, you can leave the administrator password field blank. To proceed, click Next.

Step 5. Once you reach the last screen of the Windows XP Professional Setup wizard, finish up the process. The operating system will complete the setup process and reboot itself.

Step 6. Once the Windows XP reboots, go to your VirtualBox window and navigate the “Devices” menu.

Step 7. Click on “Insert Guest Additions CD Image” to install additional drivers and settings that are required to enhance your Windows XP experience inside VirtualBox.

Step 8. Follow the guest additions setup wizard thoroughly. Press “Continue Anyway” to any driver warnings that you might get.

Step 9. Once the additions are installed, click the Finish button and reboot your XP machine.

You have to update the network adapter settings for the Windows XP operating system in your Virtual Machine.

Step 1. Open Control Panel in Windows XP.

Step 2. Navigate to the Network and internet connection menu and click on Network Connections.

Step 3. Right-click on Local Area Connection and go to Properties option.

Step 4. Navigate to Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and go to its properties.

Step 5. Inside the TCP/IP properties window, select the “Use the following IP address” radio button.

Step 6. Go to your host machine, and type “cmd” in the search bar.

Step 7. Type “ipconfig /all” in the command prompt window. From here, note the values for IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS Server addresses for your wireless or Ethernet connection.

Step 6. Now, go back to the virtual machine, and in the IP address box, enter the IP address for your home network using the details in the command prompt.

Step 7. From the details in the command prompt, enter values for subnet mask and default gateway in the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties window.

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Step 8. Select “Use the following DNS server addresses.” Here, enter the DNS server addresses from the details in the command prompt.

Step 9. Click on the OK button for changes to reflect.

5. Use snapshot feature of Virtual Machine

Remember that the Windows XP OS installed on your Virtual Machine can only be used for 30 days as it has no license.

You can try to use the Windows license key for Windows XP that you had previously. However, there are chances that even the key might not work as there is no support for Windows XP from Microsoft.

To bypass the lack of key, you can create a snapshot of your Windows XP right after installation in the VirtualBox.

Step 1. Go to VirtualBox Manager and select your Windows XP virtual machine. Now, click on the Start button.

Step 2. Once Windows XP is running on your virtual machine, navigate to the Machine menu of the VirtualBox.

Step 3. Click on Take Snapshot. You will have to provide a name for your Windows XP.

Step 4. Hit OK.

This creates a snapshot of your Windows XP, which you can use once the 30 days expire or anytime that you want.

Step 1. To restore your virtual machine to the snapshot you took previously, go to the VirtualBox Manager.

Step 2. Click the menu options present next to the snapshot you created. You can identify using the name you gave.

Step 3. Select the snapshot and then click on the Restore button to restore the Windows XP virtual machine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Windows 10 run XP virtual machines?

Yes, you can run Windows XP on Windows 10 using a virtual machine. For this, virtualization must be on for your system, and you need to download the Windows XP Mode file.

How do I get a virtual machine in Windows XP?

You can get a virtual machine for Windows XP by downloading the Windows XP Mode file from the Microsoft website and then extracting VirtualXP.vhd from it. Then using this file, you can run Windows XP on a virtual machine.

What is a Windows XP virtual machine?

Windows XP virtual machine is a feature of Windows that allows users to install Windows XP on a virtual machine in Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Is Windows XP now free?

Windows XP can be downloaded for free using Windows XP Mode and run on a virtual machine. But it is not recommended to use as it has significant security flaws and is unsupported by Microsoft. Also, it is outdated.

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