Windows 7 Ultimate has a Windows XP Mode, and it is not supported for Windows 7 Home Premium version.

The question is, why do I need it? Can't I just download Microsoft Virtual PC and the XP disk image and be able to run XP? Maybe the catch is that it will expire. Is that the only difference?

  • Isn't this the same as your previous question - superuser.com/questions/64396/…? – ChrisF Nov 2 '09 at 13:30
  • in that question, i thought the xp mode is the same as a virtual machine running xp... – nonopolarity Nov 2 '09 at 13:38
  • They are asking for different things, but are very border line being an exact duplicate – Josh Hunt Nov 2 '09 at 13:42
  • 1
    I have merged the two questions since they weren't border line enough different to quantify two separate questions. However the answers on both was good. – BinaryMisfit Nov 2 '09 at 14:53

There are three advantages in XP mode here:

  1. Those Windows are licensed - there is no need for another license.
  2. Everything comes preconfigured so you don't need to spend time before you can do something useful with it.
  3. It integrates itself better with the host system, by providing start menu shortcuts directly for applications installed in the VM. (Johannes Rössel)
  • 3
    3. It integrates itself better with the host system, by providing start menu shortcuts directly for applications installed in the VM. – Joey Nov 2 '09 at 13:12
  • That makes three advantages, doesn't it? ;) – Sasha Chedygov Dec 4 '09 at 5:41

Windows XP Mode allows you to run a legacy application installed on virtual Windows XP as if it was a Windows 7 application - that is, directly from the Windows 7 desktop.


Windows XP mode featured in Windows 7 is based on Virtual PC. And when I say based on I mean they are kind of the same. The advantage of Windows XP mode is that it offers a higher level of integration that is not present using Virtual PC. Wikipedia says:

Windows XP Mode is a virtual machine package for Windows Virtual PC containing a pre-installed, licensed copy of Windows XP SP3 as its guest OS. Pre-installed integration components allow applications running within the virtualized environment to appear as if running directly on the host, sharing the native desktop and Start Menu of Windows 7 as well as participating in file type associations. XP Mode applications run in a Terminal Services session in the virtualized Windows XP, and are accessed via Remote Desktop Protocol by a client running on the Windows 7 host

So, essentially, Windows XP mode is a pretty RDP client that connects to Windows XP running in the Virtual PC session. This begs the question… could XP Mode be 'hacked' to allow it to connect to a remote server?


In my opinion it is there for companies that rely on legacy/XP restricted programs

They don't care about what virtual machine they should use, let alone how to set one up.

Microsoft made it easy for them by having XP run under Windows 7 while only requiring a small wizard and no CD's

I don't think there is a catch, since it only comes with the "higher" versions of Windows 7, so it's a feature! Plus they made people switch to Windows 7, which is a win for Microsoft

Do you need it? No, but it sure is easy to use and free!


I found out more about them:

(source: the book Windows 7 Secrets p.102-115)

1) Windows 7 offers both Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode.

2) Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode are two different things.

3) To install Windows XP Mode, Windows Virtual PC will need to be installed too.

4) Windows Virtual PC on Win 7 is a Virtual PC. We can install any guest operating system on it (supposedly)

5) Windows XP Mode is to run a Win XP app side by side with a Win 7 app. There is no guest operating system.

6) So again, Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode are two different things.

7) Windows Virtual PC is provided in all versions of Win 7 (or most version, including Home Premium).

8) Windows XP Mode is only in Win 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate. It is not in Home Premium version.

9) To run Windows Virtual PC or XP Mode, the CPU needs to support hardware assisted virtualization. The BIOS needs to set to enable it too. If your CPU doesn't support it, you can always go back to the other virtual PC solution. VirtualBox is free, and so is VMWare's Player.

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