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My father in law recently was gifted a new Windows 7 Laptop. He however persists in using his practically dead Dell because it has some apps which he is dependant on.

If I put that drive, into a usb case - could these apps be executed on Windows 7 from that external drive? I realise that might require XP Mode. I am unsure whether either Windows 7/XP/The Apps would be disturbed by this change in hardware.

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I have read… I have never used VMWare before, could a similar thing be achieved using Virtualbox? – gaijintendo Jul 24 '12 at 15:50
What is stopping you from installing those same apps on the new laptop? Lack of the installer files? – Hennes Jul 24 '12 at 15:53
Part of it will be that, part of it will be that such a task would overwhelm him and I don't have the time to do install all these things. – gaijintendo Jul 24 '12 at 16:19

If I put that drive, into a usb case - could these apps be executed on Windows 7.

It depends on the program(s). Some programs (*cough*Microsoft-apps*cough*) dig their roots deep into a system with registry entries, registered classes and DLLs, .ini entries, common files, settings in user-profiles, and so on and so on.

Some programs are portable by nature and can be run from anywhere with ease.

Other programs may be installed, but can be “portableized” with a little effort like saving their registry entries that can be imported on a different system.

There are also some programs like ThinApp that can automate the task of making a normal program into a portable one by creating a sort of virtual environment so that file and registry access is redirected to a local folder.

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I won't know if I can mark this as the answer until I give it a go, but thank you for the suggestion. – gaijintendo Jul 24 '12 at 16:20
Sure. Give it a go. I have made my own portable versions of pretty much all of the non-massive programs I use because I like knowing exactly what the installers do and because I have made several changes to my system’s drive letters and program locations over the years (which is effectively the same as moving them to a different system altogether) and did not like the idea of having to uninstall and re-install. – Synetech Jul 24 '12 at 16:22

That really depends on the apps. Some apps require registry entries that won't be present on the Win 7 system and will therefore fail at some point. Other apps will be perfectly fine with that setup and others yet may require compatibility mode.

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Thanks, I suspect these beastly technical design apps will make good use of the registry. I suspect I will have to use Microsoft's Disk2VHD app and go down that route! – gaijintendo Jul 24 '12 at 15:55

It's easyist to just find the names of the apps he needs and then to reinstall them on the new computer . Some smaller apps will let you run them from a USB drive( mostly free apps like Notepad plus) . Others wont due to anti-piracy and technical concerns .

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This is why having cloud storage of user settings is such a great thing. I can imagine he has something like an bible annotation app he has spent hours on, which will no doubt be a nuisance to port across. Then I need to port his bookmarks, and his graveyard of icons which is his desktop. Thanks for the suggestions. – gaijintendo Jul 24 '12 at 18:47
True , well you MIGHT be able to find the folders with the save data for each app . Then reinstall the apps on the new pc and copy the save data over to the save data folder that exist once you reinstall the apps . This is the best solution I can think of . – Keithsoulasa Jul 24 '12 at 19:05

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