Virtual PC for Old PC

Hi All,
The saying "you cannot teach an old dog new tricks" is very very true for my father in law.  So much so that when Yahoo changed its email interface.... it was weeks before we stopped him complaining.  It actually took a long time to explain to him that it was not something on the computer that changed, but on the internet.

Anyway... you get the message.  So....we have bought a new computer for my mother inlaw who is more open to change than my darling father in law.  

What I would like to do is take his older computer... (5 year old Windows XP Dell) and Virtualise the Hard Drive and run it virtually on the new computer.  Therefore as far as he is concerned it is his old PC, just a different keyboard.  Whilst my mother in law would continue to use the new features of Windows 7 Home Premium and MS Office 2010.

Thoughts?  Possible?

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There is an option to dual boot a XP machine and Windows 7. This may take some work, as you would need to partition the HDD, and keep two operating systems. you may need to install XP, and reinstall all the apps, backup the desktop icons, favorites, etc. Then install Win 7 on the new partition and install the apps, etc for your mother in law.

You may need to modify the boot.ini file to point to the default OS, a sample is below (pretend your Win7 Parition is on D:, while your Xp Partition is on C:

 [boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
D:\ = "Microsoft Windows 7 beta " 

Hope this helps you out.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Certainly possible BUT....If the copy of Windows XP is OEM, i.e. it came pre-installed on the PC, it's not a retail copy of Windows XP. You are in breach of the license agreement, to transfer the Windows XP to a new machine as a virtual image.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) versions

Note: Physical-to-virtual hard drive migration of a Windows installation is a valid function for customers with Software Assurance and full retail copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Software Assurance provides users valuable benefits—please contact Microsoft Corporation for further information. Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) using OEM versions of these products may not be transferred to a virtual hard drive in accordance with Microsoft licensing terms.


Windows 7 does have XP Mode, which can run a virtual version of XP, which you can download see here

You could transfer files and shortcuts, applications, but transferring his current hard drive as an image may not work if OEM.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I understand what you want to do but I think it's a bad idea.  You will encounter a great deal of resistance for unnecessarily changing his computer.  They can live with two computers.  After a while he might get jealous and want something new for himself.  But definitely Not if you impose it on him.  Just leave his old computer alone...
amacfarlAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your quick response:

Metallimirk - good idea, however reinstalling Windows XP is a lengthy task as I would need to replicate all his settings and customisations.  Hence I am looking to simply mount a virtual image of the current HD.

hanccocka - Thanks, it is always good to keep in the right side of the law.  I have a number of full Windows XP licences which are unused (some never used), which I can use.

DaveBaldwin - The problem with keeping two computers is that their printer broke down.  So they have a new Wifi printer that does not really work on Windows XP.  Also the old computer is old and running slower and slower by the week.  It is roughly  7 years old.

Isnt there a simple way to create an image of the HD on the old computer by using an external HD housing - then mount it as a Virtual PC in Windows 7 and then link specific folders to sync between the Virtual and the real PC?

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You could use Disk2VHD

If you are using an OEM version of Windows XP, you will have to run a repair on the installation, using your Windows XP retail version, and supply the retail key.

you could also use VMware Player 4.0 and create a VM using this, BUT the only issue you'll encounter, is he will have to work his way through Windows 7 to VMware Player or XP Mode first! (even if you put shortcuts on the Windows 7 desktop, which can access the VM, which is possible, it's still difficult for a non users).

Personally, I would purchase them, an iPad! (if they just want to do email and internet!)

I would recommend and use VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0 or 4.3.

Download VMware vCenter Converter 5.0 here
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0 Documentation
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0 User Guide

Download VMware vCenter Converter 4.3 here
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.3 Documentation
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.3 User Guide

If you have issues, you may want to consult the following articles and guides

Read fellow Expert Bestway's article.

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