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I have several old devices that aren't working on 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium. If I upgrade to Windows 7 Professional, will its XP Mode allow me to use those drivers?

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No. Drivers installed in XP Mode have no effect on the host system. All XP Mode does is make it so you can run programs in a virtual machine under Windows XP, but have them appear to be native applications on the host system. There is no way to do this with drivers, unfortunately.

If you run all the applications that need the drivers through XP Mode, then yes, that would work.

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even if only the XP programs work with the drivers? e.g., a USB printer driver, or a VPN network driver? that is, I can run 32bit XP in VMWare on this machine, and the apps in the VM can successfully use the VPN network and the printer. –  John Douthat Dec 4 '09 at 5:37

With a few exceptions, the hardware on your machine is not exposed to the XP Mode OS. You can expose some USB devices, but just about everything else is not exposed. Without the hardware exposed to the OS, you can't load the drivers. The general answer to your question is that 32-bit drivers in XP mode won't help you use hardware that does not work on the 64-bit host. There may be a few exceptions, but not many.

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The 64 bits driver of my scanner is not provided by the manufacturer nor microsoft

I can confirm you that my USB scanner works fine with its 32 bits driver under XP mode.

USB : This is important as the rest of the seen hardware is emulated (like you video card) You have 2 Usb ports under XP mode. Those ports can be linked to Windows 7 usb port/device of your choice even if the device has no driver under 7 64 bits.

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