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I got given a beast of a laptop by my company. i7 CPU, 6gb of Ram, and a very decent graphics card.

However when it arrived from head office it already had been preinstalled with windows xp (32-BIT!!!!), lotus notes, and some very specific settings to connect to office networks ect. to cut a long story short, I cannot reinstall windows 7 and get all the programs back again.

To get the most out of my laptop, I went out and bought windows 7 64-bit ultimate and a 500gb harddrive. Installed the new hard drive, installed windows 7 and now what i want to know is:

Can I install virtual windows on windows 7 and clone the old windows (xp) to run on my windows 7 hard drive?

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Is your company OK with you messing with their image? I don't know any company that would approve that. – BBlake Mar 9 '11 at 15:07
What @BBlake said. Any company that's imaging something that specifically probably does it for a reason... – Shinrai Mar 9 '11 at 15:11

I would suggest to put back in the old drive, boot, then install VMware vCenter Converter and use it to convert the old computer into a virtual machine. You will need VMware Player to use it.

VMware vCenter Converter does an excellent job of creating a really working virtual machine.

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In short, yes.

You can install one of many different virtualisation packages:

  • VMWare
  • VirtualBox
  • Microsoft Virtual PC

etc, and most of them provide facilties to convert a physical partition or hard disk into a virtual hard drive image. shows you many of the tools for achieving what you want.

The only caveat with converting Windows from physical to virtual is that there will be quite a massive change in host hardware as far as Windows sees it, so it may require quite a bit of work to get it working 100% in the virtual machine. Some P2V tools take this into account and attempt to change the windows settings for you to make the migration easier.

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Agree 90% with harrymc - save that you can then have pretty good success converting that VMWare file into the virtual image format of your choice, if you prefer to use another platform.

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