How do I activate a virtualized Windows XP image?

Bill Manuel November 28, 2014
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I downloaded Windows XP mode and extracted a virtual hard drive and installed it into Virtualbox as a virtual machine as per a prior Makeuseof article Forget the End of Life Woes: Windows 8 Has an XP Mode Windows XP mode is restricted to Professional versions of Windows 7. But there's a way to get Windows XP Mode running on Windows 8 anyway. All you need is a computer running Windows 8. Read More from April 18, 2014.

The problem is that XP Professional requires activation; you get a 30 period in which to do so. Both telephone and Internet activation are rejected. Windows XP mode was made for windows 7 but I run windows 8.1, which may be why things don’t match.

The April 18 page suggests making a snapshot of your fully set up system on day one and then just restore that snapshot later in the 30 day period.

However that does not work as the program seems to give you 30 days and any change in system date reduces that 30 days.

There is a key file in the original XP mode package but I have been unable to open it with any program.

Any ideas?

  1. Sue
    December 7, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    You may want to try this's been working for me for YEARS.
    I use virtual box and run winxp because I have an old version of Paint Shop Pro that won't
    work on anything past winxp. I have never found another program that can do the things
    this paint program does so I am willing to put up with the virtual version.
    I also looked up the xpmode software and found that there were a lot of limitations with the software.

    You can try this method. There is a download link at the bottom for the same version that
    I used to setup my machine. I tried many other downloads before finding one that worked.

    I set it up using virtual box and it opens up to a full size screen which is much easier to use.
    The older version of virtual box (version 4.2.16 )works fine with this setup. I tried upgrading but
    ended up going back because it's compatible with this virtual machine.

    Within the setup you can choose to create a shared file from your computer that you
    can access from within the virtual xp. In that folder you can place anything that you
    want to use for your virtual pc. For example I place the file to install my paint program.
    I have a file full of my favorite fonts that I need for my graphics. I later take any files that I
    have worked on with the paint program and put them into the shared folder before closing down the virtual xp. I can then access them from my main computer.

    Once I have installed the paint program and fonts, I take a snapshot. Each time I close the machine
    there is a box that asks if you want to save to the current state or start up with a snapshot.
    When I use my snapshot again I am right back to a fresh install with the files that I use already setup.

    I don't attach the virtual xp to the internet so I don't even install antivirus software...
    I use the same snapshot so I know that it is safe and just start over with the 30 day
    activation each time.

    If you want to install other software later, you just need to install it and make a new snapshot
    ....(you will still be on day 1 of the activation.)

    I found this download that doesn't install the download manager.

    Use it at your own risk...I don't remember where I got my download.

    Hope that helps.

  2. Jan F.
    November 28, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    The Windows XP license within XP mode is tied into the host systems licensing (I can't tell you how exactly it works). Unless it detects an eligible version (Win 7 Pro, Ultimate, Enterprise) the guest XP will require a valid license for permanent use.

    Moreover, it only works with Microsoft Virtual PC!
    Even if you run an eligible Windows version using any other virtualization e.g. Virtualbox, Vmware the "XP Mode" machine is really just a ready-to-use virtual hard disk image that spares you going through the normal XP installation and require you to have a valid Windows XP license.

    The only way to work around this is using the "rearm" method which will reset the 30 day counter for up to a total of 120 days. After that you can only enter a license or start over with the "XP Mode".