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My laptop originally came with Windows Vista. I have purchased and upgraded my OS to Windows 7. For a class I am taking I now need to run a program that only installs in Windows XP or Vista. So, I downloaded VirtualBox to run my Windows Vista so I can use the program I need for school. I have tried using my original recovery DVDs that I burned when I purchased the laptop, but it doesn't work. I don't believe a full copy of the OS gets included on a recovery DVD. So, I am wondering if there is a way to access, or copy the original Windows Vista that came on my laptop to my new virtual machine? I did not receive any Vista boot disks when I purchased my laptop, but do have the product key.

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closed as not constructive by Keltari, 8088, Sirex, bwDraco, Mokubai Sep 24 '12 at 20:02

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1… – Khaleel Sep 24 '12 at 10:31
Doing this would be a violation of your license. This is the equivalent of installing the OS on two machines. – Keltari Sep 24 '12 at 10:38
I suggest using the compatability mode to run your program. There is no reason a program that runs on Windows Vista would not run on Windows 7. – Ramhound Sep 24 '12 at 10:49
@Keltari Only if the OP bought an upgrade version of Windows 7. If not, then he's not using his Vista licence on the physical machine and is free to install it in a virtual machine, provided the VM is still run only on the laptop. – Indrek Sep 24 '12 at 11:32
@Indrek - not sure... I dont know how the "system restore" versions of Windows are licensed. Anyways most of them will only install on the valid machine they shipped on. – Keltari Sep 24 '12 at 11:35

I've not come across a program that ran on Vista and not 7, have you tried installing it to check? Maybe even running it in Vista/XP compatability mode?

If you can source a Vista DVD from a friend (or elsewhere), i believe you have 30 days until the OS needs activating. There are even ways to extend this trial period by an extra 2-3 months, but i'm not sure how legal that is.

Your product key from your laptop may also work for activation, but i'm not sure of the legalities of using such a key on a different computer when it's sold as part of the original (laptop) package.

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"There are even ways to extend this trial period by an extra 2-3 months, but i'm not sure how legal that is." - Its not legal. – Ramhound Sep 24 '12 at 10:48
@Ramhound It is legal to do that in Vista and Windows 7 using a command. The information is here link – Stamo Sep 24 '12 at 13:08

You should be able to create an image, but that's most likely unable to boot (primarily due to having the wrong hard disk controller drivers (e.g. for SATA)).

Also there's some licencing issues here. As mentioned by Fattox, you could just use a standard Vista DVD to install a trial.

However I'd just recommend you to download one of the official Internet Explorer VHDs. These are meant to be used for testing web pages on different versions of Internet Explorer. They've got some limited functionality (e.g. some OS settings are locked), but they should be fine to run the program you want to use. Keep in mind that these installs are only valid for a limited amount of time and then need to be reset. They're meant to be used with Microsoft's VirtualPC, but I think Virtual Box is able to load them as well.

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Your recovery DVDs should contain a full installation of Windows, but it's tailored for the laptop's hardware. Since the virtual hardware emulated by VirtualBox is different, you're probably running into driver issues, though of course it's hard to say for sure since you're not telling us exactly what error message(s) you're getting.

Anyway, you can get official Windows Vista setup files through Digital River (Microsoft's distributor) here:
The link also has instructions on how to convert the files to an ISO and burn it to a DVD or a USB drive.

As for the legality of it, if your laptop came with Vista Business or Ultimate, the Windows EULA permits installing it in a virtual machine, so long as it's still running on the same physical hardware (your laptop), and you don't use the licence for the host OS as well (which is tantamount to using the licence on two separate computers). That should only be the case if you bought an upgrade version of Windows 7, though - in that case your original Vista licence remains used on the physical hardware. If you bought a full retail version, then the Vista licence is no longer used.

If your laptop came with Vista Home Basic or Home Premium, then the EULA forbids installing in a virtual machine.

Alternatively, if you bought Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, you can use a feature called XP Mode, which is basically a virtual machine in the Windows Virtual PC format that comes with Windows XP Professional preinstalled and licenced. Since you indicated that your software works with XP, this could also be an easy way to run it under Windows 7.

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Thanks, I think this is probably the most feasible solution. Sorry I didn't give more of the specifics up front. I purchased just the upgrade version of windows 7, so i don't have the full copy. I did get the professional version so ill have to try xp mode. The program I need to install is Micro Focus Net Express 5.0 university edition. I haven't actually tried to just install with win 7, since my prof said upfront that it won't install using windows 7 os. – Michelle C. Sep 24 '12 at 23:29
@MichelleC. Try just installing it in Windows 7. Compatibility mode might help (right-click on the .exe, select Properties and go to Compatibility tab). Or if it really refuses to work in Windows 7, try XP Mode. – Indrek Sep 25 '12 at 0:43

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