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What If I Still Need XP?

You may have a good reason for sticking with XP beyond “It works fine, so why bother?” For example, there may be a custom application that won’t work on newer versions of Windows.

Microsoft included a virtualization feature called Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate, which lets users install and run applications as if they were on a native XP machine. (You can still download Windows XP Mode software directly from Microsoft.)

Windows XP Mode isn’t available for Windows 7 Home Edition, or for any version of Windows 8, but as long as you have a Windows XP installation disk and a valid user license, then third-party virtualization software such as Citrix XenDesktop or Virtualbox can accomplish the same task.

Virtualization, gives users the security benefits, the secure Windows kernel, regular patches, security mitigation technologies such as address space layout randomization (ASLR), data execution prevention (DEP) and software sandboxing – of a newer operating system while still allowing users to run applications in an XP environment.

When users need to use the custom application, they can switch to the XP virtual machine for that task only. It’s the best of both worlds.

Each Windows XP user needs to seriously consider whether it really makes sense to keep running XP after Microsoft discontinues support. The security situation is expected to deteriorate after April 8, and a full migration can take up to six months, depending on the size of the organization.

The time for planning is past, and it is time to act now.