Can I install XP in VMware as 32-bit on a 64-bit Win7 machine?

Posted on 2012-03-25
Last Modified: 2012-03-27
Hi there,

I have some old estimating software for construction industry that only runs on 32-bit machines, not sure if it works under Windows 7 but it *does* work on my old XP machine (32-bit). It definitely won't install on my Windows 7 64-bit machine and I need it to for when I travel. So, as per the title, my question is:

Can I install a free version of vmware on my Windows 7 64-bit machine, then use my XP disc (I've never used) to install XP as a 32-bit version within vmware? ...Basically so I can then install my old estimation software?


/ Tobzzz
Question by:tobzzz
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LVL 121

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 250 total points
ID: 37762568
Yes, you can use the free VMware Player 4.0. Create a 32bit Virtual Machine and install a 32bit version of Windows XP on your Windows 7 64 bit host.

Check your CPU and Computer BIOS for Intel-VT or AMD-V, Virtualisation options, and ENABLE, if present.

VMware Player 4.0 Free Download

OR you can also use Windows XP Mode on Windows 7. (this may be faster, installation as it already includes Windows XP for the purpose of using it to support older applications).

Do I need Windows XP Mode?

Windows 7 has several built-in tools to help with program compatibility and Windows XP programs should be installed directly on Windows 7. Windows XP Mode runs many older Windows XP productivity programs and that are not natively compatible with Windows 7, thus helping realize cost savings and reduce possible operational downtime by extending the life of existing software. Visit the Windows 7 Compatibility Center to find software that works with Windows 7.


Can I install a free version of vmware on my Windows 7 64-bit machine, then use my XP disc (I've never used) to install XP as a 32-bit version within vmware?


...Basically so I can then install my old estimation software?

LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 37762585
you dont need any vmware product xp mode is microsofts fix for windows 7 compatibility
LVL 11

Author Comment

ID: 37762593
Thanks both for your answers, I did wonder about XP mode in Windows 7 however, would this not just run XP mode as 64-bit (under which the estimation software definitely does *not* run, it says on launch in an error message it can only run in 32-bit mode)??

Thanks again :-)
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LVL 121
ID: 37762606
XP Mode is a pre configured  Windows XP Service Pack 3 32 bit VM.
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Expert Comment

ID: 37762641
its not emulated its virtualised using virtual pc
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Assisted Solution

IanTh earned 150 total points
ID: 37762645
if you want to run 64 bit xp you need to use a vmware product as virtualpc only does 32 bit presently
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 37762916
Or use Oracle VM VirtualBox, which is what I have switched too since playing around with the Windows 8 CPE.

I started using it because MS Virtual PC would not install Windows 8 x64 on a x64 7 Machine.  I looked up some info and found Oracle's soulution and I like it quite a bit.

You can get that free here:

And, yes, it will install x32 on x64 and vice-versa.
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 37762931
As Tribus suggested i too have switched to virtualbox as it is a very good free application which will suffice for your requirements
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

garycase earned 100 total points
ID: 37763093
When you install XP in a virtual machine -- whether VMWare, Virtual PC (with or without the XP Mode integration features),  Virtual Box, etc. -- it's still XP ... a 32-bit OS running in 32-bit mode.      So ANY of those will work fine for what you need to do UNLESS your software uses a proprietary hardware dongle for copy protection -- in that case you need to be sure the necessary hardware is passed through to the virtual machine (in most cases it is not).

But other than the potential hadware issue, any of the choices mentioned earlier in this thread will work fine.

As you probably know, XP Mode requires Windows 7 Pro or above (i.e. Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate).     The VMWare Player is probably the simplest approach -- and will also make it much simpler if you ever need to simply move the entire XP Virtual machine to another physical system.

Bottom line:   The answer to you question  ["Can I install XP in VMware as 32-bit on a 64-bit Win7 machine?"]   is "Yes".

One other thought:   Note that MANY programs that "won't install in Windows 7" will actually install just fine in Windows 7 x32.     The issue is very frequently that they won't install in a 64-bit OS ... NOT that they won't work in Windows 7.     If you have access to a system with Windows 7 x32, you might want to try that => if it works, another solution would be to simply reload your system with Windows 7 x32 and then your software would run natively.     The only real disadvantage to that is if you have more than 4GB of memory, you won't be able to use the additional RAM.     [Note if you don't have access to a system with Win7 x32, you could always install it in a virtual machine -- you don't need a license to use it for a few days to test it.]
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 37763974
> Can I install XP in VMware as 32-bit on a 64-bit Win7 machine?


> I did wonder about XP mode in Windows 7 however, would this not just run XP mode as 64-bit

that's by design due to compatibility considerations. 32-bit applications are still the majority and not all 32-bit stuff can work perfectly on 64-bit XP.
LVL 11

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37770849
Thanks to all

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