Windows 7 Program Compatibility – Windows XP Mode

Windows 7, like any other new operating system, has problems running older programs because they aren’t compatible with the new operating system.  While almost all (never say all) programs will run in Windows XP, a smaller amount run OK on Vista and an even smaller amount run OK in Windows 7.

Microsoft has created a few solutions to this.  You can find out more on their Compatibility Website.  I’ll post their summary information here.  This is simply a reproduction of their content, and not mine.  I will make comments at the end of the post.

Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

Most programs written for Windows Vista also work in this version of Windows, but some older programs might run poorly or not at all. If an older program doesn’t run correctly, use the Program Compatibility troubleshooter to simulate the behavior of earlier versions of Windows.


To make sure you have the most up-to-date troubleshooters from the Windows Online Troubleshooting Service, your computer should be connected to the Internet. For more information, see Troubleshooting in Windows.

Open the Program Compatibility troubleshooter by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under Programs, click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows.

Windows XP Mode

Using Windows XP Mode, you can run programs that were designed for Windows XP on computers running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate editions that also meet certain hardware requirements.

How does Windows XP Mode work?

Windows XP Mode works in two ways—both as a virtual operating system and as a way to open programs within Windows 7. Windows XP Mode runs in a separate window on the Windows 7 desktop, much like a program, except it’s a fully functional version of Windows XP. In Windows XP Mode, you can access your physical computer’s CD/DVD drive, install programs, save files, and perform other tasks as if you were using a computer running Windows XP.

When you install a program in Windows XP Mode, the program appears in both the Windows XP Mode list of programs and in the Windows 7 list of programs, so you can open the program directly from Windows 7.


  • Some hardware and devices that work in Windows 7 might not work in Windows XP Mode. They might not be detected in Windows XP Mode.
  • Windows XP Mode was primarily designed to help businesses move from Windows XP to Windows 7. It isn’t optimized for graphic-intensive programs such as 3D games, nor is it well suited for programs with hardware requirements such as TV tuners.

Windows XP Mode requirements

Before you download and install Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, you need to make sure your computer meets both hardware and software requirements for running these programs.

Windows XP Mode requires:

  • A computer capable of hardware virtualization. This means your computer has a central processing unit (CPU) with either Intel-VT or AMD-V virtualization features.
  • Virtualization features turned on in your computer’s basic input/output system (BIOS).
  • Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate editions.

My Comments on Windows XP Mode

Recently I setup a customer’s new computer with Windows 7 Professional.  They are using ACT 2007 (v9) in their company and it is very specifically NOT compatible with Windows 7.  I decided to give Windows XP Mode a try and see how well it would work.

I followed Microsoft’s simple instructions at the bottom of their Install and use indows XP Mode in Windows 7 guide.  The instructions were very clear and simple to execute.

The really cool part about using Windows XP Mode is that you can use the programs that are setup on the XP Virtual Machine without having to interact with the Virtual Machine at all.  So, my customer has ACT 2007 in her Programs list, as well as a shortcut to it on her desktop.  All she does is double click it, and Act opens right up and looks as if it’s running in Windows 7.  She has no idea that it’s actually running in a Virtual XP machine behind the scenes.

While this solution isn’t perfect, it’s a great step that Microsoft took to provide users with an easy transition to Windows 7.  I actually love Windows 7, I think it’s everything Microsoft has advertised.  But, that’s going to be another post…

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