My recent article, Run IE6, IE7, and IE8 on the Same Machine Using Windows 7 XP Mode, provided instructions for installing Virtual PC and XP Mode on a Windows 7 PC. Unfortunately, it only worked on the Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise versions of Windows 7.
Windows 7 Home Basic and Premium users are unable to use XP Mode. This is unfortunate since the vast majority of new PCs have those editions installed. However, there is a workaround that allows Windows 7 Home developers to use XP Mode integration.
1. Check your PC’s compatibility
XP Mode requires hardware-assisted virtualization (HAV). This is supported by most modern processors, but it may need to be enabled in your BIOS. The BIOS menu is normally accessed by pressing DEL, F2, or ESC immediately after switching on your PC. Microsoft provide a useful HAV detection tool which can help you with BIOS configuration.
2. Download Virtual PC
You must download Virtual PC for Windows 7 from the following location rather than the Microsoft Virtual PC website:
You might be prompted to install Genuine Windows Validation Component in your browser if you’ve not installed it before.
3. Create a new Virtual Machine
Start Virtual PC from Start > Programs > Windows Virtual PC > Virtual Machines then click Create virtual machine on the toolbar.
You will be prompted to enter the name, location, RAM (256MB is enough) and create a new virtual hard disk.
4. Install Windows XP in the VM
You will now need to start your VM and install Windows XP using an original CD or disk image. You will also require an XP licence — you may have one if you’ve scrapped or upgraded a PC.
Alternatively, you’ll need to buy a copy of Windows XP. The OEM versions generally cost less and you might be able to grab a copy on eBay — but ensure it’s legitimate.
You will also need to install the latest updates including SP3. However, do not install IE7 or IE8 just yet!
5. Enable integration
From the VM Tools menu, choose to install the Integration Components. Once installed, click Tools > Enable Integration.
6. Install the Windows XP SP3 RemoteApp upgrade
Within your XP VM guest (NOT the Windows 7 host), you should download and install the RemoteApp upgrade from:
7. Configure the VM resolution and color depth (optional)
By default, IE6 and IE7 will run in 16-bit color mode and your subtly-shaded web application can look a little strange. To fix it, refer to step 3 of Running XP Mode for the First Time at the bottom of the original XP Mode article.
8. Create IE6 and IE7 VMs and desktop shortcuts
You can now follow the instructions on page 2 of the original XP Mode article to create two cloned VMs and Windows 7 desktop shortcuts for IE6 and IE7.
Are You Considering a Windows 7 Upgrade?
The solution above is ideal if you’re already using Windows 7 Home and have a spare XP licence. However, if you’re considering a Windows 7 upgrade, purchasing the Professional edition may save you time and money.
Prices appear to have reduced a little in the US:
- US Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Upgrade — $175
- US Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (full version) — $265
- US Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade — $200
- US Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (full version) — $292
UK prices have not altered significantly, but the full version price is confusingly similar to the upgrade and less expensive than the US:
- UK Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Upgrade — £150
- UK Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (full version) — £150
- UK Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade — £167
- UK Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (full version) — £170
Has Windows 7 XP Mode reduced your IE testing time?
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.