Windows XP Mode (XPM) is a pre-installed and pre-activated licensed copy Windows XP SP3 as guest OS virtual machine package for Windows Virtual PC. Microsoft provides Windows XP Mode as a mean to provide backward compatibility for legacy productivity software. In Windows XP Mode, a pre-installed RemoteApp integration components allow guest applications running within the virtualized environment to be integrated into host Windows 7 desktop, and appear as if running directly on the host, sharing the native desktop and Start Menu of Windows 7 as well as participating in file type associations.
Unfortunately, Windows XP Mode is only available free of charge to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions, as it’s widely considered as buy one free one deal, with a free licensed copy of Windows XP comes with Windows 7. However, Microsoft does provide Windows Virtual PC for every editions of Windows 7 except Windows 7 Starter edition.
Good news is that, according to MDL forum thread, in order to ensure that Windows XP Mode can be run properly without activation worry, Microsoft has embedded the necessary OEM:SLP (System Locked Pre-activation) string in the Windows Virtual PC’s BIOS so that offline OEM activation automatically activate Windows XP Mode. Thus, with the necessary OEM:SLP product key and OEMBIOS files, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium users can manually install Windows XP on Windows Virtual PC guest virtual machine, and perform the steps in the hack below to create a Windows XP Mode with full integration features and functionality.
Tip: The guide can also be used any any editions of Windows 7 to create and install multiple or more than one activated Windows XP as Windows XP Mode with full integration features including seamless application publishing to host.
Hack to Manually Create and Install Windows XP Mode in Windows 7
- Ensure that the computer is capable of running Windows Virtual PC, as Windows Virtual PC (and hence Windows XP Mode) required hardware-assisted virtualization. Microsoft also provides Hardware-Assisted Virtualization (HAV) Tool as free download to check the CPU capability.Tip: Hardware-assisted virtualization is supported on most CPU processors, but may have disabled or locked in BIOS. In this case, reboot into BIOS to change the setting.
- Download and install Windows Virtual PC.Note: It’s impossible to download Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode from Microsoft Virtual PC homepage if user selects the operating system as 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic or Windows 7 Home Premium.
- After installing Windows Virtual PC, browse to Windows Virtual PC folder by clicking on Start menu -> All Programs -> Windows Virtual PC -> Windows Virtual PC.
A Windows Explorer window showing “Virtual Machines” folder will be opened.
- Start the new virtual machine wizard by clicking on Create virtual machine button on the toolbar.
- Enter a name for the new virtual machine, such as Windows XP, Windows XP SP3 or simply Windows XP Mode, and then click on Next button.
- Specify a value for RAM setting, which allocate size of memory for the virtual machine. By default, it’s 512 MB, but a 256 MB should be enough for Windows XP. Then, click on Next.
- Click on Create button to create the new virtual machine.
- Insert a Windows XP setup installation CD into the CD/DVD drive disc tray (by default, Windows Virtual PC captures the physical drive for virtual machine to access).
Alternatively, download Windows XP SP3 ISO, then right click on the VM, select Properties. Go to DVD Drive tab, select Open an ISO image and then browse to locate or specify the full path to the Windows XP ISO image. Click OK when done.
Note: It’s recommended to use Windows XP Professional, which Windows XP Mode is based of.
- Start the virtual machine to start the setup installation of Windows XP. Follow the screen instruction of the setup wizard to install Windows XP.Tip: It’s possible to bypass and skip entering a product key during installation of Windows XP SP3. Just leave the product key field blank, and continue with next step of installation after confirming the decision.
- After installing Windows XP, click on the Tools menu on VM window, and select Install Integration Components to install Virtual PC Integration Components.
Click on Continue if prompted with dialog to confirm action to install or update Windows Virtual PC Integration Components. Then follow on-screen instructions of the setup wizard to install the integration components.
- Restart the virtual machine after installing integration components.
- At the virtual machine’s Tools menu, and select Enable Integration Features, and then specify a user name and password as Windows Security credentials. Click Remember my credentials to let Windows Virtual PC saves the credentials for auto login.
Note: User is required to specify a user account with a password set as the credentials to automatically log on to the virtual machine. To set a password for a user account, go to Control Panel -> User Accounts, select the user account that wants to use for integration components, and then click on Create a password to set the password.
- In order to seamless application integration feature (which allow user to access and run virtualized program installed on virtual machine from host desktop) to work, KB961742 RemoteApp RAIL QFE update package need to be installed. Download and install KB961742 RemoteApp update package inside the Windows XP guest operating system in the virtual machine.
- Virtual machine powered with Windows Virtual PC already has OEM:SLP string required for activating Windows XP with OEM activation. Unless you have a Windows XP OEM CD which allows converting Windows XP between retail, volume licensing and OEM channels, download the following package and program:Windows XP OEM BIOS Files for Microsoft: Microsoft-B4FFCA38.rar (Source)
VLK and OEMBIOS Changer: OEMBIOS changer installer.exe (Source)
- In the Windows XP guest OS, unpack the content of VLK to OEM Conversion Program (run OEMBIOS_changer_installer.exe) to a folder.
- Then unpack the Microsoft-B4FFCA38.rar, and put the four files (oembios.bin, oembios.cat, oembios.dat, oembios.sig) into Uncompressed Oembios Folder of OEMBIOS changer.
- Start the VLK to OEM Conversion Program (VLK_to_OEM) by running oem.exe.Note: Despite the name, the utility program supports changing of OEMBIOS files in retail, VLK and OEM version of Windows XP.
- Press any key to continue from splash screen, then press 5 followed by Enter key to enter “OEMBIOS changer dialog” menu.
- Press 3 and followed by Enter key to install the convert the installed Windows XP to OEM version, and install the required OEMBIOS files into the system.
- Depending on the edition of Windows XP installed, select the appropriate Windows XP edition to convert by pressing the corresponding number key, followed by Enter.
- On the last screen, press Y followed by Enter key to start the OEM conversion.
- Answer Y followed by Enter key to restart the computer after the XP system is converted to OEM channel and OEMBIOS files are installed.
- After Windows XP system is restarted, it will be automatically activated via OEM activation, as the VLK to OEM converter has also installed a generic Microsoft OEM product key into the system. However, for user who wants the new virtual machine to as identical to Windows XP Mode as possible, change the Windows XP product key to the following product key, which used in Windows XP Mode:K49H2-RPR94-QBGG4-DBCTM-YT64G
A virtual machine running Windows XP with full functionality and features of Windows XP Mode is now ready to be used. Here’s the method to check the activation status in Windows XP.