Installation of Windows XP using VMware Player


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Setting up a Windows XP VM

The most difficult thing about setting a Windows XP VM up is obtaining the installation media and Product Key in the first place. For one installing this OS for legacy hardware/software this guide assumes you have a Retail or Volume License of Windows XP and have Converted the installation CD into a .iso and installed VMware Player. OEM Editions and Upgrade Only Editions are not supported as you will experience Microsoft Product Activation issues.

Select Player → File → New Virtual Machine:

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Select Installer Disc Image File (.iso) and select Browse:

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Load your Full Retail or Volume License Windows XP .iso:

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VMware should autodetect that this is a Windows XP .iso and hence will install using Easy Install. Select next:

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Then input your Product Key and Full Name. Enter a password if you desire. Select next:

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Use the default name for the VM and location or amend these to desired. I will select Browse and move the VM from my HDD to my SSD:

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I want to use the E: Driver so I will select this drive and opt to make a new folder. I’ll call this folder VMs and then make a WXP subfolder:

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The specified Disk Capacity is set to 40 GB by default but I will increase it to 60 GB. I will use the default setting to split the virtual disk into multiple files then select next:

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I will now customise the hardware:

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I will change the memory from 512 MB to 4096 MB:

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I will change the number of processors to 2:

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For the Network Adapter (Virtual Ethernet) I will ensure that it is disabled by unchecking Connect at Power on. Windows XP has reached End of Life and one should avoid internet connectivity.

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I shall leave the default settings for USB controller, Soundcard and Video:

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Additional hardware may be added by selecting Add:

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Then accepting the User Account Control:

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A Floppy Drive, Parallel Port, Serial Port may be added if needed however I don’t advise adding these just now and instead advise adding them after Windows Installation.

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Once the hardware is setup select Finish:

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Then select close:

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Select Finish again:

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The VM should now automatically begin installing:

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You may get some warnings about the keyboard select ok:

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Also if you are prompted to Download VMware tools select Download and Install:

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Select ok:

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You may also be prompted about USB devices. I advise selecting Do not show this hint again and selecting ok:

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You will see the VMware Virtual BIOS:

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It will boot from the Windows XP installation media and all the next steps of the installation will be automatic:

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It will automatically restart and you’ll see the VMware virtual BIOS again:

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VMware Player will automatically continue with the installation:

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Once XP is installed you will see the VMware Virtual BIOS again:

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Your settings will be setup and then the VMware Tools installation will automatically begin:

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After VMware tools are installed the VM will automatically restart. You’ll see the logging off, Windows is shutting down, VMware Virtual BIOS and then the Windows is starting up and Welcome Screen:

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Your Virtual Windows XP installation and driver installation (VMware Tools) is complete:

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Once VMware Tools are installed you can left click the top of the VMs Window and move it like a regular Window. You can aerosnap it to the top or left or right:

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In this case I will aerosnap it to the top:

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After snapping the resolution of the VM is automatically adjusted to fit the Window.

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The full screen button will show the VM in full screen hiding the Windows 10 taskbar.

Unofficial Service Pack

XP reached End of Life in April 2014. Its last official Service Pack was released in May the 6th 2008. You should not connect a Windows XP machine to the internet due to security issues. If you want he 6 years of patches you may use the WSUS Offline Update but it is very time-consuming to install all the updates. Fortunately an Unofficial Service Pack was made and can be downloaded here:

http://www.softpedia.com/get/Others/Signatures-Updates/Windows-XP-SP4-Unofficial.shtml

One may also wish to download and install the Royal (Media Centre Edition) theme:

http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Themes/Royale-Theme-for-WinXP.shtml

If you AeroSnap the VM to the left and open your downloads folder and Aerosnap it to the right. You can simply drag and drop the Royal Folder and Windows XP Unofficial Service Pack to the Windows XP VM’s Desktop:

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The files will copy over:

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They will appear on the VMs Desktop:

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Double click the Unofficial Service Pack. It will begin to extract:

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Select Next:

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Select I Agree then press Next:

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Since this is a Clean Install select Do Not Archive Files (theres little to lose if something goes wrong). Select next:

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The unofficial service pack will install:

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Select Finish:

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You will see the XP logging off screen and then the VM virtual BIOS screen:

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You’ll be asked about turning on automatic updates. Select Not Right Now. Theres no point in enabling this setting as the VMs offline and there will never be any more updates…

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You will see the welcome screen:

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You may have only the Desktop background for a while i.e. no taskbar just leave the VM be as the Update is still installing:

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You will then see personalised settings being setup:

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Some command prompt Windows:

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Finally the Windows XP Desktop will show leave it a few minutes just to make sure nothing else is going on:

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The default Luna theme looks like the following:

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We can however change this to the Media Centre Edition theme by opening the Royal Theme folder:

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Then launching the setup:

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It’ll ask a save location using C:\Windows as a default. I advise just selecting next. (Note it says the location is C:\Windows but actually it will save into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes which is the correct place).

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Select Finish:

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Right click the Desktop and select Properties:

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Open the Appearance tab:

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Change Windows XP Style to Media Centre style:

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Then select Apply:

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You will see please wait for a few seconds:

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Then you will see the Windows Media Centre theme is applied.

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Change Security Centre Settings

You will consistently get this popup about antivirus software and Windows Updates. I won’t install antivirus software on my XP VM as all files going to the VM are either going to be created in the VM directly or alternatively coming from a Windows 10 system which has ample security thus will scan the files on Windows 10 system.

I will therefore just disable this icon by right clicking it:

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Then selecting Open Security Centre:

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I will then select change the way Security Centre Alerts me:

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I will disable the notifications for both Automatic Updates and Virus Protection then press Ok:

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Change Language to English UK

VMware Player’s easy install unfortunately gives no language select options and the setup just defaults to US English😦. I rather “proper” English so I will change all the settings to UK English. Go to Start → Control Panel:

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Select Date, Time, Language and Regional Options:

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Select Change the Format of Numbers, Dates and Times:

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Change everything from English US to English UK (or your desired language):

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Then select apply:

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You can also customise the settings:

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This will give you this array of options. I’m happy with English UK format(s) so I’ll just select ok:

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Now select the Languages tab and then left Click Details:

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Again change English US to English UK (or your preferred language). If your preferred language isn’t listed select Add:

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Once English UK is selected (or your preferred language). You may highlight English US and then select Remove:

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This gives me only English UK.

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You may also go to advanced settings and change these accordingly. Once satisfied select Apply:

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On the Regional and Language Options Window there is also another Advanced Tab:

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Again change English US to English UK (or your desired language):

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Then select apply:

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Select Ok when you get the warning:

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You will be asked for the XP .iso:

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Go to player → Removable Devices → CD/DVD and set settings:

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Select Browse:

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Find your Windows XP .iso highlight it and select open:

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Then select ok:

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If the Windows XP setup loads select Exit:

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Now select ok:

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Then select yes to restart:

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You will see the XP log off screen, the VMware virtual BIOS screen and the XP Welcome screen:

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You now can use the VM.

Product Activation

The Enterprise/Volume License version of Windows XP Professional is preferred as Windows XP is automatically activated and there is no need to contact Microsoft for Product Activation.

If you are using the Retail version of Windows XP then you’ll have to go through the pains of Microsoft Product Activation. Moreover its ill advised to connect the VM to the internet so phone activation is recommended. Go to Start → All Programs → Accessories → System Tools → Activate Windows:

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Select Yes I want to telephone a customer Service Representative to Activate Windows:

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Select your Location:

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Then call the toll free number:

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You’ll be on an automated call. You’ll have to input the horrendously long number into the phone. The automated phone will then give you an equally horrendously long number which you’ll have to input and then you can select next. You will get a Thank you and Windows will be activated.

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USB Devices

I will now demonstrate the power of VMware Player when it comes to connecting to hardware. If I right click the start button on the host PC and go to the Device Manager:

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Then aerosnap this to the right I can see I have the Epson V330 scanner in the Windows 10 Device Manager. I have deliberately not installed the driver for it so it shows under unknown devices and not Imaging Devices:

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In the VM I can select Player → Removable Devices and pick from a list of USB devices. I shall select the Epson V330 scanner and connect to it:

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The Epson scanner then disappears from the Device Manager in the Windows 10 Host and the new hardware Wizard begins in the VM:

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I have installed the Epson scanning software in the VM so will just select next. The system is offline so it won’t find anything from Windows Update:

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I’ll select install this software automatically and select next:

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The driver for the scanner will now be installed:

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When its done I can select Finish:

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I can now open up the Device Manager in the XP VM by going to start and right clicking computer and selecting properties:

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I can then select the Hardware tab:

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Then launch the Device manager:

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The scanner should show up in the Imaging Devices category, in my case I had to power it on and off again after the driver installation for it to show:

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I can now launch the Epson Scan software from the XP VM:

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I can then select scan:

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Then ok to begin the scan:

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The scan is now in my pictures in the VM and can open it in the VM:

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I can then use drag and drop to copy the file from the VM to the host PC:

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You will see the quick flash about copying files from the VM:

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The image file will now be in the folder of the host PC I dragged it to:

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I can now use all the programs on my Windows 10 PC to edit the Image or to email it etc. This was an example using a scanner (which works natively with Windows 10) but its a good demonstration. This could equally have been a very expensive scientific instrument with no modern software and an ageing PC that needs replaced with a more reliable VM.

Adding Virtual Serial and Parallel Ports

Make sure your VM is powered down. If you are wanting to add a serial connection to a computer to a computer without a serial port. I advise using the Plugable USB to RS-232 DB9 Serial Adapter (Prolific PL2303HX Rev D Chipset).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Plugable-Adapter-Prolific-PL2303HX-Chipset/dp/B00425S1H8

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA2XB12D1318

The driver for these will be obtained automatically from Windows Update on Windows 7 64 Bit and Windows 10 64 Bit. I have two of these plugged into an Inspiron 7347. If I right click and select the start button I can go to the Device Manager:

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I can see the Devices listed:

USB Serial Ports

These USB to serial ports work very well with VMware player. Open VMware player. To use Serial Ports go to Player → File → Preferences…:

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Select Change Settings, accept the User Account Control:

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Then select Enable Virtual Printers and then select ok:

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Now highlight your VM and select Edit Virtual Machine Settings:

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Select Add…:

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Select Serial Port and then select next:

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Select Use physical serial port on the host and then select next:

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Select the Serial Port you want to Add and select Finish:

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Repeat for any other Serial Ports. You should see them listed. Unfortunately a Windows XP VM has COM1 on the virtual machine assigned and as a consequence has assigned Serial Port COM1 on the host to Serial Port COM2 on the guest. This should be amended. In this case COM3 is assigned as COM3 on both the host and guest:

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Since these are USB to Serial Ports. Note that we want the VM to use them as Serial Ports and hence for the Host to retain them as USB Devices. Therefore the Serial Ports should be Enabled in the VM (checked) and the USB Devices shouldn’t be Enabled (unchecked) in the VM.

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The Device Manager should be opened in the VM:

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Right click COM1 and select Properties:

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Select Port Settings:

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Select Advanced:

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Now change the COM port number to an unused Port e.g. COM256 and select OK:

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You’ll need to refresh the Device Manager to make the changes:

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Repeat the procedure for COM2 and assign it to COM1. Now the Host COM port designation and Guest COM port designation match which should prevent confusion moreover certain Com ports numbers may need to be designed for your legacy software to interface with the hardware correctly.

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You can now control devices by plugging them into the serial/parallel ports of the host PC and by launching the legacy software in the VM in an identical manner to the USB scanner I demonstrated earlier.

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