Move Windows XP from Virtual PC 7 to Parallels Desktop 17

Some documentation from a little project of mine to get Windows XP running on my iMac 27″. This project is a little tricky, in fact not as straight forward as installing Windows XP in a new Parallels virtual machine with a Windows XP installation disc. The version of Windows XP sold in the Apple store was part of Virtual PC included with Microsoft Office:mac 2004 Professional Edition; Apple actually sold Windows XP! Actually Apple also sold MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 with PC Compatibility Cards.

Getting Windows XP from Virtual PC 7

Unfortunately you do need to install Windows XP into Virtual PC as the included Windows XP installation is a preconfigured and packaged virtual machine; you cannot simply boot a Windows XP installer from this package!

  • Using the Finder drag the Windows XP .vpc7 file to something that you can connect to with your modern intel powered Mac

Getting Windows XP into Parallels Desktop

It is unlikely that simply double clicking the file will import and convert the .vpc7 machine into Parallels Desktop but the following should do the trick:

  1. Open the Terminal and input the following
  2. prl_convert <the .vpc7 file, you can drag this file to the terminal window from Finder> --no-src-check
  3. Start Parallels Desktop and power on the new Windows XP virtual machine.
  4. Parallels will start doing some magic before you get some prompts in Windows XP.
  5. You may have to forcibly stop Windows XP, restart Parallels, then Windows XP to regain the ability to use the keyboard and mouse to interact with Windows XP.
  6. In 2022 you cannot activate Windows XP over the internet so when prompted to reactivate choose the telephone option.
  7. The activation wizard may give you a blank installation ID which is obviously not possible to activate so: select change product key, then enter the key supplied with Virtual PC 7 for Windows XP, and this should give you an installation ID.
  8. Call the telephone number on your screen and follow the instructions to activate Windows 10 over the telephone self help system; I don’t know if you can use the internet connected smart phone option so I recommend patience and continuing carefully with the automated telephone call.
Optimising Windows XP with Parallels Desktop

You now technically have a working Windows XP virtual machine in Parallels Desktop but you may notice that the mouse integration does not work as expected even with Parallels Tools installed. Windows XP will not automatically quit the virtual machine on shutdown, and there is no sound. To get this all fixed do the following:

  1. In Parallels Desktop with Windows XP stopped go into the virtual machines settings, select “Hardware” then use the “+” button at the bottom of the sidebar and add whatever you need.
  2. Start Windows XP and let in automatically install the device drivers for the hardware you’ve just added.
  3. Go to “Start > Control Panel”
  4. Select from the sidebar “Switch classic view”, then double click “Power Options”, select the “APM” tab, then check “Enable Advanced Power Management support”; which will enable the Windows XP to shutdown correctly and quit the Parallels virtual machine automatically.
  5. Back in the Control Panel double click “System”, select the “Hardware” tab, then click the Device Manager button.
  6. You will see two PS/2 mouse entries, one with a yellow triangle: do a “Shift” + “control” + “mouse click on the entry”, release the keys and click Uninstall.
  7. The remaining mouse entry has to be changed so double click it, select the “Driver” tab, “Update Driver, Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)”, “Don’t search. I will choose the driver to install.”, uncheck “Show compatible hardware”.
  8. In the list that appears set the Manufacturer to “Parallels” and “Parallels Mouse Synchronisation Device” as the Model.
  9. Acknowledge all warnings to complete the installation, then Restart Windows XP.

Windows XP is now fully optimised for Parallels Desktop and you no longer have to escape the mouse. You should hear sound, and the virtual machine should shutdown as expected.

Updating Windows XP

Virtual PC 7 only officially supported Windows XP SP2, and Windows XP is now a historical operating system. I recommend that you get all available updates installed on Windows XP but don’t be under any illusion that this is a secure system even after updates are completed; new exploits can still be discovered and Microsoft do not provide security fixes anymore. It might be wise to change the virtual machine Security settings to “Isolate Windows from Mac” after setting up the update system to keep your stuff safer on your Mac. The following guide involves using a cached version of the Windows Update Servers from a third party server:

  1. Download and install the following files inside Windows XP:
  2. Restart Windows XP and got to “Start > Run”, and enter wuauclt /detect now
  3. Patiently wait until a yellow button appears in the notification area in the Taskbar, and when prompted click and install updates. Keep repeating this step until there’s nothing left to install.
  4. Have a visit to who generously makes the Windows Update archive available to historic computer enthusiasts.

In Conclusion

Have fun with this piece of history for as long as you have an intel powered Mac and Parallels Desktop. We will have to say goodbye to this eventually, but if you are absolutely determined to keep Windows XP alive for even longer you may be able to move this virtual machine to newer hardware and use Qemu as a means to run it. If you have a modern PC with Linux or Windows you could possibly move to something like VirtualBox, or VMware hypervisor solutions but I don’t recommend this as a longterm solution; hypervisors expose your modern hardware to this antiquated operating system and it may work OK for now, but newer technology will eventually break compatibility which is why I recommend moving to full emulation so that Windows XP can run without getting confused by newer CPU’s.

Happy Mac’ing with Windows XP!