There are different reasons for using a Virtual Machine. One of the reasons is just to run Legacy Software. If you have the setup files for all your software you can create a new Windows XP VM and copy then over to the VM and install your legacy software. If you don’t have access to all the installers for your software you are best to Convert your Physical Machine to a Virtual Machine.
The software used above is an Epson V33 scanner which has a USB port, this has updated driver software for Windows 10 64 Bit but we will pretend it doesn’t have updated driver software and connect to it through a VM via virtualisation. I want to run Windows XP 32 Bit on a Windows 10 64 Bit host and connect to the scanner using a USB Port. This is pretty easy to do. However if you are doing this with a more sophisticated scientific instrument for instance your life may not be so simple… Software may also be on a CD/DVD drive and may require the CD to be present in an optical drive to launch the setup. The software may also have a protection USB that needs to be connected to the VM in order for the software to launch. Your hardware may also use Serial Ports. Your specialised hardware may need access to a Bootable Floppy Disc. I will first list some useful USB adaptors if you are trying to connect to legacy hardware.
USB CD/DVD Drives
If your software is on a CD/DVD you may however have an issue because the host PC you wish to virtualise your VM on does not have a CD/DVD drive. Firstly if you have an old computer with a CD/DVD drive then you should use WinImage to convert your CD/DVD to an ISO which can subsequently be loaded as a Virtual Drive in the VM. For more details see WinImage and Connecting to Legacy Hardware. If you do not have a CD/DVD drive then you’ll need a CD/DVD to USB one. I recommend the following (please use the affiliate links to help fund my guides).
You may have even older software… and require a floppy drive. Firstly if you have an old computer with the Floppy drive then you should use WinImage to convert your Floppy Discs to a FLP file which can subsequently be loaded as a Virtual Drive in the VM. For more details see WinImage and Connecting to Legacy Hardware. If you do not have a Floppy drive then you’ll need a USB one. The most highly rated virtual USB to floppy drive is the Esynic one. Note if you are needing a floppy drive to use as a boot drive. I recommend the following (please use the affiliate links to help fund my guides).
The next is if you are wanting to interface to some legacy hardware. If the hardware has a USB port, then most modern computers have USB ports and with VMware player you can readily connect to legacy devices over USB.
If your computer is brand new and only has USB Type-C connectors then you may need a USB Type C to USB adaptor. I used these on my XPS 13 9365 (please use the affiliate links to help fund my guides).
If you need to replace your drive due to drive failure see my guide Upgrading to a SSD. However do not
For Serial Ports I’ve found the following by plugable to be the most useful and have tested them on several legacy scientific instruments in the lab. The following are affiliate links to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. No driver is required for the Windows 10 Host by the Windows XP guest will require the driver listed here.
Windows XP Installation Media
You will also need XP Installation Media. If you have a Volume License Windows XP Installation ISO then you will have Offline Product Activation with the Volume License Product Key. If you are using a Retail License you will need to call Microsoft to activate.
In this guide however we are going to use a Dell Windows XP Professional SP3 Reinstallation .iso and the Dell.ROM file which can collectively be used to instigate OEM Downgrade Rights in a Virtual Machine on a PC with a Dell Windows 7/8.1/10 Pro OEM License using VMware Player.
Setting up the Windows XP VM in VMware Player
VMware player can be downloaded from here:
File and then New Virtual Machine:
Select I will install the Operating System later (otherwise you end up with an automated install which will break the Dell OEM SLP).
Select Microsoft Windows and then Windows XP
You can change your VM name:
You can change the location of your VM or leave it as default:
I want one on my secondary SSD D: so I will select it and create a new folder:
Now I’ll select OK:
Here is my new location:
I’ll need this location later on, so I’ll copy it:
Now select Customise Hardware:
At this stage we are carrying out only the Windows Installation so don’t try and add USB to Serial Adaptors, USB CD/DVD Drives or USB Floppy Drives to the VM.
Change the Memory from 512 MB to 20148 GB:
Change the number of processor cores to 2:
Under CD/DVD select Use ISO image and select Browse:
Select the Windows XP Reinstallation ISO and select Open:
You should see the ISO file is selected:
As Windows XP Reached End of Life in April 2014 it is unsecure and internet connectivity should be avoided where possible. So under network adaptors I am going to uncheck both these boxes:
The custom hardware is now setup select Finish:
Do not launch the VM at the moment:
Adding Dell OEM System Locked Preinstallation to the VM
This is not required if you are using a Windows XP Retail License or Volume License.
Installing Windows XP
Now you can press the Play Button and begin installation of Windows XP:
You will see the virtual Legacy BIOS splash screen.
VMware will also tell you the magic keyboard shortcut keys. [Ctrl] + [g] to take your mouse to the VM:
And [Ctrl] + [Alt] to take your mouse away from the VM.
The Windows XP Installation will start:
Press [F8] to select the license agreement:
Press the [↑] arrow and format the partition quickly:
Windows XP will then format the virtual partition and copy the installation files to it:
It will restart:
You will see the virtual Legacy BIOS splash screen will show alongside the XP splash screen:
In the next screen select customise to get to your language:
Change the Standards and Formats and Location to your desired setting:
In my case English United Kingdom:
Select your Default Input Language. In my case English (United Kingdom):
Input your name and then select Next:
Input your Computer name and select Next:
Set your Time Zone:
The setup will continue:
Your VM will restart, you will see the Legacy BIOS splash screen and then the XP splash screen:
Now you will get the epic Windows XP Installation Music (which you normally never heard on physical hardware as XP often didn’t have the sound driver inbuilt). Select Next:
Select Next again:
Select “Not Right Now” and then Next:
XP will try to connect to the internet but it won’t be able to as we have disabled network connectivity in the virtual hardware. Select Skip:
Select No here and then Next:
Input your user name and select next:
Finally select Finish:
You will reach the Windows XP Desktop.
Installation of VMware Tools
We need to install the Virtual Machines system drivers, this is done via VMware tools. Select Palyer → Manage → Install VMware Tools:
The setup of VMware tools will load:
Select Next again:
Select Yes to restart your Virtual Machine:
Your VM will restart, you will see the Virtual Legacy BIOS splash screen and XP splash screens:
You’ll be back on the Windows XP Desktop:
Now you can resize the VM as a normal Windows within Windows 10 and it’ll automatically resize:
You’ll get nags in the notification tray:
For the Display settings check the Box in Future do not show me this dialog box and select Yes:
Close the tour of Windows XP:
Open the Security Centre:
Select Change the Way Security Centre Alerts me:
Windows XP Reached End of Life in April 2014 so there will be no Updates so uncheck the box for Automatic Updates.
For an Operating System that has reached End of Life you are limited when it comes to Security however you can use Malwarebytes’ AntiMalware Legacy:
The latest definitions or rules are available here, you’ll to download them on your Host PC and drag and drop the files over to your VM:
You may also need the Microsoft .Net Framework 4.0:
Checking Product Activation
Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in:
If you are using a Volume License or OEM License you should see that Windows XP is activated, if using a Retail License, you may need to call Microsoft for Phone Activation.
Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in:
You should see that your System Manufacturer is Dell and your system model is Dell as passed through via the Virtual machine configuration file:
Connecting Additional Hardware to the VM
I will use the simple example of connecting to a USB Device, an Epson V33, this has modern drivers so can be ran in Windows 10 natively but we can pretend it doesn’t and use the XP VM to connect to it, install the driver software for it and use it to scan an image and then copy the image to the host.
If I open up the Device Manager in the host and the VM. I can see the Epson scanner shows under the host.
We can select Player → Removable Devices → Epson V330 → Connect.
It now shows in the guest’s Device Manager and does not display under the host’s Device Manager:
We have the driver installation software on the host. So we can drag and drop the folder across or if it’s in ISO format, load it via the VM Virtual Drive… It should be seamless but sometimes the drag and drop from host to VM guest or vice versa, may take a few attempts and resizing the VM can sometimes help.
The setup files will copy across:
You can now install the Windows XP driver:
Now I can use the VM to scan from the scanner:
I get the scanned image.
Now I can drag and drop it back through to the host:
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 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. Insert your USB to Serial Adapter (see recommendation above). Right click the start button and select Device Manager:
I can see the Devices listed:
These USB to serial ports work very well with VMware player. Open VMware player. To use Serial Ports go to Player → File → Preferences…:
Select Change Settings, accept the User Account Control:
Then select Enable Virtual Printers and then select ok:
Now highlight your VM and select Edit Virtual Machine Settings:
Select Serial Port and then select next:
Select Use physical serial port on the host and then select next:
Select the Serial Port you want to Add and select Finish:
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:
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.
The Device Manager should be opened in the VM:
Right click COM1 and select Properties:
Select Port Settings:
Now change the COM port number to an unused Port e.g. COM256 and select OK:
You’ll need to refresh the Device Manager to make the changes:
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.
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.
If you are using the USB CD/DVD Drive or USB Floppy Drive you can connect these using very similar instructions to above.