Q. Is there a way to maintain all the applications from my Windows XP installation when I upgrade to Windows 7 without third-party tools?

A. There's no upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, which means all the applications you've installed in Windows XP will be lost. While it would be possible to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, then to Windows 7, this isn't optimal and would result in a lot of junk moving to Windows 7.

Another option is to back up the Windows XP installation to a virtual machine (VM), which can then be loaded into Windows Virtual PC and run on a new Windows 7 installation. The easiest way to do this is to use disk2vhd to capture the Windows XP system disk to a virtual hard disk while using the "Fix up HAL for Virtual PC" option, as shown below.

You can take the VHD file and use it as the virtual disk for a new VM on a fresh installation of Windows 7. Boot the new VM and install Windows XP SP3 and the Windows Virtual PC integration tools. Next, install the XP SP3 RemoteApp add-in.

The user can now access the Windows XP applications through the Windows XP VM. You can go one step further and enable Auto Publish for the VM and boot the XP virtual. The applications will now show in the Windows 7 Start Menu and will launch seamlessly.

Click to expand.

If you're not already running an anti-virus program in the VM, install one, such as the free Microsoft Security Essentials.

I tried the above procedure and it worked fine, but obviously, all my applications and data are still within the Windows XP VM. Ideally, you want your applications and data within your primary OS. Over time, you should install Windows 7 compatible applications in the primary OS, instead of running them from the VM.

Related Reading:

Check out hundreds more useful Q&As like this in John Savill's FAQ for Windows. Also, watch instructional videos made by John at ITTV.net.
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.