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I have XP installed on one drive and Windows 8 on another.

Can I run an application installed on my XP in Windows 8?

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No, Windows has never been able to do this, and Windows 8 does not have Windows XP mode like Windows 7 did so thats not even an option. – Ramhound Nov 5 '12 at 12:54
Depends on the app, if it is Not registry or XP dll dependent, then you might, all you can do is try. – Moab Nov 5 '12 at 14:14

It's possible in the special cases of self-contained apps like µTorrent, or in portable apps, which you can package yourself via application virtualization software.

In the case of self-contained apps, you can't always expect your settings to carry over, unless they're saved in a simple way (like a text file in the same directory).

With portable app creators you can package apps that were otherwise intended to be installed on a single system.

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It depends on the programs. Many programs don't really need to be "installed". It's enough that you know that path of the program executable file, and that any dependencies are in the right place relative to that executable. These programs will work just fine, or may work but not carry your settings over from the original operating system.

Other programs require access to the registry for things like settings or for finding the right dll to load, or may look for files installed to a special Application Data folder that don't exist on your current operating system. Those programs will likely not work at all.

Some programs in the second category will be able to re-build this information on first run from the new OS, and treat it as a fresh install.

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Exactly. It's becoming even more rare nowadays, as applications tend to use less and less the registry, and more the user profiles for their configuration storage. And either way, a lot of programs are perfectly able to rebuild their configuration registry or data from nothing, without reinstalling. – Gnoupi Nov 5 '12 at 14:31
Good point about rebuilding... incorporated into the answer. – Joel Coehoorn Nov 5 '12 at 14:34
Not to mention programs which are storing their configuration data in their own install folder. Those ones are obviously not getting any problem. – Gnoupi Nov 5 '12 at 14:36

Firstly, try opening the application on the XP drive. If it fails, give the windows troubleshooter a try.

Alternatively, you can try to virtualize your windows xp installation in 8: Enable Hyper-V in windows 8.

Once it's enabled check out if you can create a virtual machine with the XP disk as physical virtual machine disk, or copy the contents of the physical disk to a virtual one.

I'm currently not on a Windows 8 machine, so I can't say for sure, but this is what I would try first.

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There's no reliable, universal way to do this since each OS has its own registry, and settings and locations may vary between the two OSes. If software is self contained, it may still work, but you cannot be certain without testing it.

There could be a chance but I never tried it. You can install the application/program from both OS's to a separate drive in the same folder for both OS's. Then it could be possible to run the application installed in XP on Windows 8 and application install on Windows 8 on XP.

Let's say you have 3 drives C:, D:, E:. C: drive contains XP and D: drive contains Windows 8 so when you try to install the software then install them on E: drive using Browse option. So in this scenario both OS's will store the registry path for the program from the same drive.

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Seems logical. I'll try and let you know. Thanks. – Kang Nov 5 '12 at 13:27
There are a lot of programs which don't need registry keys, or configuration data. You can run them without a problem. Some others just rebuild their configuration as needed. Finally, some store their configuration in their own folder. All these cases work for such situation. – Gnoupi Nov 5 '12 at 14:35
@Gnoupi how many programs which don't need registry installation, I think they called portable already which we don't need to install on the PC. As I have not mentioned only this in my answer because most of people(almost all) know that these kind of program runs on any machine which has Windows OS without installing. A bad resaon to downvote I think. – avirk Nov 5 '12 at 14:39
Saying "No, you can't run the application installed on the XP in Windows 8 or application installed on Windows 8 in Windows XP." is just plain wrong. The answer is that it depends on the program. Unless a program requires an explicit parameter for an external library, a license key, or something like this, most programs will be able to rebuild their own configuration from scratch. And even without it, copying the content of the %appdata% folder from XP to Win8 will be enough for most programs to find back all their settings (browsers, for example). Some won't work. It really depends. – Gnoupi Nov 5 '12 at 14:46
@Gnoupi yep! the first sentence can be edit. But I'm still sure most of the programs will not run. Mostly which integrate with the shell and most of which will run only used the .ini file to run themselves. So here most probably we both are right(approximately). – avirk Nov 5 '12 at 14:49

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