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Q. Can I keep a virtual Windows 7 PC on my Windows 10 machine so my printer works? Getty Images

Q. Can I keep a virtual Windows 7 PC on my Windows 10 machine so my printer works?

Q. Is it possible to upgrade to Win10 but retain an XP virtual image from Win7?

Drivers for my scanner/copier/printer are limited to XP and Win7 x32; there are none for Win7 x64, Win8, or Win 10.

I could attach an XP or 32-bit Win7 box to the local network and share the scanner/printer, but that’s clunky.

​A. With all virtual PCs (VPCs), the controlling drivers for external devices reside in the host PC, not in the VPC — it’s the host machine that physically connects to the external device.

So though XP-era software might run perfectly inside an XP-VPC/Win10-host setup, it won’t communicate correctly with ancient, external hardware if the Win10 host doesn’t have the compatible drivers.

Bottom line: I don’t think your XP-era scanner will find the drivers it needs anywhere but on a true XP PC — or on the special-purpose XP Mode in Win7.

But note: Basic, Win10-compatible multi-function devices are surprisingly inexpensive — if you shop around, it’s not hard to find some models selling for less than U.S. $30 and many more under $50.

Your best bet is to retire your ancient hardware and replace it with an inexpensive current model. That way, your compatibility issues simply go away!


Editor's note: We feature an abridged Q&A from Fred Langa's LANGALIST, a column available exclusively to paid subscribers of the Windows Secrets newsletter,. What you see here is just a small sampling of what Langa's writing for the newsletter — go here for more information on how to subscribe.

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