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How to run Windows XP under Windows Vista

John has got a computer at home. He purchases sound card from some shop and plugs it in his computer. It works fine in his existing operating system environment of Windows XP. One day, John decides to upgrade the operating system itself to Windows Vista. He goes to the shop and purchases Windows Vista and installs in his computer. After installing the new Windows Vista, he finds that his sound card is not working properly, meaning that it is not producing sound at all! What might be the problem? Is it the problem with the sound card itself?

Solve hardware incompatibility problems

In the above John problem, the answer is clear. Because, the sound card worked fine with Windows XP, no one can expect anything wrong with the sound card. Then, what is wrong? Is it the problem of Windows Vista?

ne thing is clear, that is, if it worked fine with Windows XP, then it must be the problem with the driver software of the sound card. The driver software is a small program developed by the manufacturers to detect and enable the services of external or internal add-on devices.

Whenever one installs a new operating system, the entire environment will be changed which in turn affects the existing driver performance. This problem is common, and is often known as problem of incompatibility. One can solve these kinds of problems by installing new set of device drivers for the operating systems.

Normally, some manufacturers develop and release the new drivers whenever new operating system is being released. If not, the customers have to have old operating systems along with the new one in a single computer. Likewise, one should have old operating systems to solve the problem of incompatibility among the applications also. The Application program which was working fine in Windows XP may not run at all in Windows Vista, because Windows Vista is next higher version than Windows XP.

Dual booting is a slow process

One can make Windows XP and Windows Vista dual boot in a system. But, the dual booting process will be a slow process. One may take minutes together to switch from one operating system to another. In order to work faster without the option of dual booting, it is better to make use of a conceptual program called as Virtual PC.

The virtual PC is a program, which allows running operating system within an operating system. The main operating system which allows running other one within it is called as the host operating system.

The operating system which is running within the host operating system is termed as guest operating system. One can run Windows XP within Windows Vista by setting up Virtual PC 2007 in Windows Vista. Here, Windows XP is termed as guest to Windows Vista, which acts as host operating system.

Run Windows XP under Windows Vista

To run Windows XP within Windows Vista, you need to have RAM capacity to run host and the guest operating systems. For example, if Windows Vista needs 1 GB and Windows XP needs 256 MB, then, you must provide 1 GB and 256 MB of RAM in the system to run using Virtual PC.

Adding to this, one must also take into account, the amount of RAM which is needed to run Virtual PC. This is a serious, major drawback of operating systems running through Virtual PC, when compared with dual boot option.

Virtual PC mode

Now, let us see, how to setup and run Windows XP in Windows Vista through Virtual PC. But, before that, let me present you the required things in the system to run Windows XP within the Windows Vista environment. The required things are,

  1. A computer system with,
    • Memory capacity to run Vista, Virtual PC 2007 and Windows XP,
    • Hard disk capacity to hold Vista, Virtual PC 2007, Windows XP files,
    • Internet connectivity to download Virtual PC 2007 software.
  2. Windows XP setup disk with a license,
  3. Total time of about an hour, which depends on how fast the computer is.

Virtual PC 2007 is best suited for home users

Today, other Virtualization softwares other than Virtual PC 2007 are made available in the internet. These softwares are better and faster than Virtual PC. The claims may be true, but, the virtual PC is free for use, which is cheap for home user. Virtual PC 2007 is best suited for home users who often love to conduct experiments in their home PC’s.

Create a new XP Virtual Machine first

One word of caution goes here. The PC functions slower in Virtual PC software, if the processor speed is low or, and the memory capacity is low.

One needs to create a new XP Virtual Machine first, before start running Windows XP in Windows Vista. After getting the Virtual PC 2007 downloaded and installed in the Windows Vista computer, one can create a new virtual Machine for XP by choosing "New Virtual Machine Wizard" from the Virtual PC’s Action menu.

In the VM Wizard, first, you will be prompted with the total amount of RAM to be allocated for running Windows XP virtual machine and also prompted to setup a new Virtual Hard drive with the size that XP will store its data.

New Virtual Machine Wizard

Configuring RAM in Virtual Machine Wizard

Virtual HArd Disk Location Setting

Configuring Virtual Hard disk in Virtual Machine wizard
Once the wizard configures the RAM and Virtual Hard disk, one can now continue to setup Windows XP. You need to run the setup from within the Virtual PC.

Virtual PC console

lick start button to run Windows XP setup from Virtual PC console

Virtual PC console

Windows XP setup screen from Virtual PC 2007

Win XP - Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Follow the on screen installation instructions to continue with setup. You will be prompted to format the new partition which will be the virtual hard drive.

Windows XP - guest to Windows Vista

One will be prompted to set the date and the regional settings in Windows XP which act as the guest to Windows Vista. When one clicks inside the XP virtual machine window for the first time, Virtual PC attempts to capture the mouse pointer. Once captured, mouse pointer lays inside the Virtual Machine.

After this process, one will not be able to move the mouse pointer outside the Virtual Machine window, unless the special key (Right-alt, by default) is pressed. We can change the special key combination. This is a bit troubling for new users. One can expect XP ready to be used within half an hour, if the computer configuration is high.

Once the setup gets over, Windows XP reboots in the Virtual Machine Window and starts running inside Windows Vista as shown below.

Windows XP running inside Windows Vista

Install virtual machine additions

Now, be sure to install virtual machine additions, before changing the settings and properties of Virtual machine. One needs to install these additions, in order to get additional features like sharing the mouse and folders between the guest and the host operating systems.

One can install these additions by selecting “Install or Update Virtual machine additions” from Action menu, by starting up the Windows XP Virtual Machine. The virtual machine then installs selected additions and reboots the Virtual Machine.

Once the virtual machine additions are installed, one will be able move the mouse pointer within Windows Vista and also within Windows XP without the need to press Right Alt key (Special Key). Added to this, one will be able to share folders between the host PC and the Virtual Machine.

Use Windows XP inside Windows Vista

Once it is done, one can use Windows XP inside Windows Vista, in case, the installed hardware is outdated, or application program is having problems in Windows Vista.

Alternative to the dual boot option

The Virtual PC 2007 acts as an alternative to the dual boot option, which is slow when compared with Virtual PC option. However, one may need to have high configuration in their systems to ensure that the Virtual PC software along with the guest and host OS works together smoothly, without any trouble.

What ever the problems, mistakes, Windows Vista will be the new feature rich, possibly strongest in security, among the operating systems, that we saw till date.


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