Bring your Windows XP PC over to your Windows 7 PC for FREE in a few simple steps!

The Challenge

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a less technically savvy friend, “I finally convinced my company to buy me a new computer.” With the positive buzz generated by Windows 7, he was very excited to replace his extremely aged desktop PC, running Windows XP, with a fast new laptop. However, he had been using this machine for about 3 years and found the thought of migrating all of his files daunting.

He didn’t want to be forced to keep the old PC sitting under his desk if he needed to run an old program or to constantly have to search through a backup drive if he missed a file. So I immediately started thinking about how I could help him. He needed to be able to access all of his important files spread across the hard drive and also needed to understand which of his applications (if any) would require upgrades in order to run on Windows 7. After a few minutes of consideration, it hit me

The Proposed FREE Solution

While VMware Workstation could work, it might have been overkill for his particular needs. Instead, this would be a perfect opportunity to use VMware Player and VMware Converter to painlessly migrate him to Windows 7. And the best part? Both of those VMware applications are available for free!

How will these two great products help? VMware Converter will quickly bundle up his entire Windows XP desktop–including files, applications, and the operating system–into a virtual machine. VMware Player will then run the virtual machine containing his Window XP desktop on his new Windows 7 laptop, in a window. This is sort of like “Picture in a Picture” on your TV, only in this case, it’s a “PC in a PC.” This will make it very simple for him to access old applications or files when needed, even at the same time that he is working in Windows 7.

The Results

When he ran VMware Player for the first time and saw his Windows XP machine boot up inside a window on his desktop, he thought it was magical! When I showed him how to run an application and hide the VM in Unity mode he was blown away. The ability to quickly and easily access his files and programs completely eliminated all of his anxiety about the move to Windows 7.

How to do this yourself
If you are planning to move to Windows 7, you can use these tools on your own to get the same results. Below are the simple steps I followed to make the move to Windows 7 simple and painless. (Click on pictures to enlarge)

< td valign="top" width="658">8) Conversion Wizard Step 4: Click “Finish”
1) Download VMware Converter <requires registration>.
Download Converter
2) Install VMware Converter on the Windows PC you would like to virtualize to run in Windows 7.  I recommend using the default setting.
Start Converter Install
3) Run VMware Converter after installation. Click the “Convert Machine” button in the toolbar to start the wizard.

02-Run Converter-1

4) Conversion Wizard Step 1: The source type should be “Powered-on Machine” and specific powered-on machine should be set to “This local machine”. Click Next.

02-Conversion Wizard-1

5) Conversion Wizard Step 2: Destination type should be “VMware Workstation or Other VMware virtual machine.” The VMware Product selected should be “VMware Workstation 6.5”. Give your virtual machine a name, it can be anything, I chose “My XP PC”. Choose a location to save the virtual machine. I selected an external hard drive to make it easier to copy it to the new PC. You can save it to the new PC over the network, but for this example, I wanted to keep it simple.

02-Conversion Wizard-2

6) Conversion Wizard Step 3: In the “Devices” section click “edit” and increase the memory to 512MB. This can be increased up to 1024MB if your new machine has 4 GB or more memory.
02-Conversion Wizard-3
7) Conversion Wizard Step 3: In the “Networks” section click “edit”. Most people will see multiple network adapters (NICs) listed. Typically the NICs listed are wired ethernet, WiFi, and a (FireWire/iLink/1394) port. Select “NAT” in the drop down list box under Connection Type next to the ethernet and WiFi network adapters. If you are unsure, select NAT for all

02-Conversion Wizard-4


02-Conversion Wizard-6

9) Sit back and let VMware Converter do its thing. The “Status” column will let you know when its done.

02-Conversion Wizard-7

10) While VMware Converter is running, return to your Windows 7 PC and download and install VMware Player.
11) Download VMware Player.(you may be prompted to enter your account information you used/created in step 1)


12) Install VMware Player on your Windows 7 PC.

03-Player Install -1

13) I recommend using the default settings.

03-Player Install -2 03-Player Install -3

14) Once the installation is complete, you will need to restart your PC.
03-Player Install -4
15) Now VMware Player is ready to go.
16) Once VMware Converter has completed the conversion process,you are ready to move your Windows XP PC to your Windows 7 laptop.
17) If you stored the virtual machines to an external hard drive as I did, you can run your Windows XP virtual machines from the external hard drive or copy the virtual machine to your new Windows 7 PC’s hard drive. I copied it to the “Documents” folder on the Windows 7 PC. With the large hard drives found on most new PCs, I recommend copying it to your new machine’s internal hard drive so you can quickly access applications and files as need. If you start to use the Windows XP virtual machines less and less, I would move it to an external hard drive to keep it as a backup in case you need it.
18) Now we are ready to run our Windows XP machines with VMware Player in Windows 7. Click the VMware Player icon to open up the program.
Player Icon
19) Click “Open a Virtual Machine”.
20) Find the file with the name you gave your virtual machine in step #5, select it and click “Open”.


21) Now you will see the Windows XP Machines start to boot up.


22) Once you see the Windows XP desktop in VMware Player, go to the “Virtual Machine” menu and select