back to article Cheat Win XP DEATH: Little-known tool to save you from the XPocalypse

Windows XP's date with destiny has passed. As of Tuesday, Microsoft will NOT be releasing any new security updates. With one in five PCs still running Windows XP, there's a chance you are among those whose computer is now running an unsupported operating system. What now? Doing an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 isn't a good …

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WTF?

One Question

Why enable automatic updates if the VM can/will never access the internet?

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Re: One Question

Or if there aren't going to be any more updates (the whole reason for this exercise).

The only reason I can see is that if you don't have it on you'll have to put up with notifications about it being off. It would have been nice if the final update would have adjusted this behaviour.

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Re: One Question

It might. Depends on your requirements (eg, accessing an IE-only intranet).

You could say there'll be no updates again - but there might be.. like IE>6?

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: One Question

Correct me if I am wrong but I am pretty sure if you use the MS AV option it still downloads these via Windows Update (At least thats what it appears to do on Windows Vista).

Obviously if you are not going to use it disable Windows Update and associated Services.

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Facepalm

Re: One Question

You are wrong in a sense. MS announced that even that part will be disabled eventually:

"(If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time,"

If someone want to clue me in on the reasoning behind this decision I would love to hear an explanation that doesn't make my head explode at the stupidity of it.

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Re: One Question

If you're running Office 2007 or 2010 you'll get automatic updates through Windows Update.

Same goes with SQL Server, Visual Studio and so on.

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Re: One Question

"Why enable automatic updates if the VM can/will never access the internet?"

Because those updates don' t only fix exploits that can be remotely exploited, but also all other kinds of bugs?

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Re: One Question

"If someone want to clue me in on the reasoning behind this decision I would love to hear an explanation that doesn't make my head explode at the stupidity of it."

I would guess because any new malware aimed at XP is going to require XP patches which won't be forthcoming.

I'd be surprised if any AV company is going to have a crack at providing an XP AV solution going forward.

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Boffin

Well, duh...

Some obvious points:

1. Running old versions of Windows or DOS within Virtual Box is pretty standard. My place of business has been doing it with Win 98 & Win 95 for years, due to legacy issues with needing to access old documents in discontinued file formats where the old applications will only run on Win 98 or earlier.

2. There's no need to run Virtual Box on a Linux machine, unless you like Linux. Running Virtual Box (and running your discontinued Windows versions on it) works just fine in Win 7 & 8, or even on a Mac.

3. If you are really paranoid, there are ways to allow the Virtual Box VM to access some things on the corporate network but not access the Internet.

4. Always keep an up-to-date backup of the VM's, in case they get hosed.

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Anonymous Coward

Or Another Way

Back up drive, convert to VDI or VMDK and then add appropriate BIOS to VBox or VMware.

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Re: Or Another Way

I've looked at this approach, but I haven't tried it myself. This article looks promising:

Convert your existing Windows XP system into a virtual machine

"Using the vCenter Converter, I converted a live Windows XP system into a set of virtual machine files. I then copied those files over to a Windows 8 system and used VMware Player to run a fully functional Windows XP virtual machine."

http://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/convert-your-existing-windows-xp-system-into-a-virtual-machine/

I'd appreciate feedback from anyone here who has tried this technique.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or Another Way

Yeah I did this a while back for a dell d530. I had an acronis tib back up of the machine lying around and wanted to run it so used VMware converter (only supports earlier tib format, acronis 11 and earlier if memory serves me) to change to VMDK. Used VMware but needed to use a dell bios rom or XP whined about activation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or Another Way

Another approach (if using Virtual PC/Hyper-V/Virtualbox, not sure about VMWare) might be a P2V conversion to VHD format using the extremely handy Disk2VHD utility that uses Volume Shadow Copy to build a VHD.

My experience with it has ranged from the trivially easy to the frustrating and unsuccessful, depending on the PC being P2Ved, so as ever YMMV.

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@Andrew Fernie

I also like DIsk2VHD. TBH, the only time I ever had problems with it was when the network connection between the source and target became shaky, was less than optimal or had too many hops.

Problems like this can be quickly solved by putting both systems on the same switch or linking with a cross cable.

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Re: Or Another Way

Taken from the VMware vCenter Converter pdf

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third-party virtual machines or system images

Acronis True Image Echo 9.1 and 9.5, and Acronis True Image Home 10 and 11

(.tib).

Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery (formerly LiveState Recovery) 6.5, 7.0, 8.0,

and 8.5, and LiveState Recovery 3.0 and 6.0 (.sv2i format only).

Norton Ghost version 10.0, 12.0, and 14.0 (.sv2i format only).

Parallels Desktop 2.5, 3.0, and 4.0 (.pvs and .hdd). Compressed disks are not

supported.

Parallels Workstation 2.x (.pvs). Compressed disks are not supported. Parallels

Virtuozzo Containers are not supported.

StorageCraft ShadowProtect Desktop, ShadowProtect Server, ShadowProtect Small

Business Server (SBS), ShadowProtect IT Edition, versions 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2

(.spf).

The Microsoft VHD format for the following sources:

Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (.vmc) Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and 2005 R2 (.vmc)

-----------------------------------------------------

So yeah, 11 and earlier, but not as early as 8, which I have a load of images for. Bummer. I'd really love to find a way to make a Virtual Disk out of them. It would save me a lot of time and trouble rebuilding them. Maybe there is a way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or Another Way @ Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

Here's an idea.

Restore your old tibs to a spare hd using true image v 10 or 11 (I think they deal with v8 ?) and then just image them again using true image 10 or 11. It might work provided your back ups have not corrupted after all this time.

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Re: Or Another Way

I tried it and it worked - it was really simple even over the network. Now my boss does not have to go into windows 8 except for to click resume or suspend. That is a great function as well - to leave a desktop intact and resume months later ...

Best thing (apart from still being licensed for Office 2003) is that we can print to our ancient HP Laserjet 5si without any work - having given up trying to find the correct drivers for this workhorse.

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Stop

Danger Will Robinson

Some of the instructions on this article feel a little close to the limit of legality with regard to licencing. I hope El Reg's lawyers have reviewed this article before it went to press.

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Re: Danger Will Robinson

Yep, I looked into this approach a little while back.

Many people will be using XP machines that came with an OEM version of XP. Unlike retail versions of XP, the OEM licence can't be transferred to a different machine. Windows 7 Professional, of course, includes a valid XP license so this isn't an issue.

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Re: Danger Will Robinson

It would of been a nice gesture that once MS had thrown support under the bus, they could of done likewise with the licensing requirements. However I won't hold my breath.

They are probably worried about a free unencumbered XP becoming a competitor to there latest and greatest (ignoring the fact that XP is pretty easy to pirate and if you want a free OS there is lots of choice out there). They should of instead looked the Adobe Photoshop CS2 example and see how releasing non-supported software actually encourages lock in

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Re: Danger Will Robinson

Yup, time to call the Lawyers! This is from an earlier copy, but:

1.1 Installation and use. You may install and use one copy of the Software in a single virtual machine on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device (“Workstation Computer”) that contains a licensed pre-release copy of Windows 7 Ultimate edition, to design, develop and test your programs for use with the Software. Virtualization software is required to use the Software on the Workstation Computer. The Software may not be used by more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer. You may not use or test the Software in a live operating environment unless Microsoft permits you to do so under another agreement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Danger Will Robinson

"that contains a licensed pre-release copy of Windows 7 Ultimate edition, to design, develop and test your programs for use with the Software. "

That sounds a lot like an agreement for preview or beta software on MSDN or TechNet. It's definitely not the actual licencing terms for XP Mode, for which there are (and I quote):

"no special licensing requirements for using Windows XP Mode; it is free if you have Windows 7 Premium, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate. For more information, see Install and use Windows XP Mode in Windows 7."

It doesn't mention Windows 7 Professional, but the 'more information' link in the page explicitly mentions it.

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Re: Danger Will Robinson

Yes, the legal aspect is a problem.

Specially this part: " Of course, you may well have one on a sticker on your PC case or knocking around somewhere.".

Most probably, the sticker on your PC case is an OEM license, which according to the EULA:

"1.2 SOFTWARE as a Component of the COMPUTER - Transfer. This license may not be shared, transferred to or used concurrently on different computers. The SOFTWARE is licensed with the COMPUTER as a single integrated product and may only be used with the COMPUTER. If the SOFTWARE is not accompanied by HARDWARE, you may not use the SOFTWARE. You may permanently transfer all of your rights under this EULA only as part of a permanent sale or transfer of the COMPUTER, provided you retain no copies of the SOFTWARE. If the SOFTWARE is an upgrade, any transfer must also include all prior versions of the SOFTWARE. This transfer must also include the Certificate of Authenticity label. The transfer may not be an indirect transfer, such as a consignment. Prior to the transfer, the end user receiving the Software must agree to all the EULA terms."

In other terms, you can't use an OEM version of XP in any computer, except the one where it was first installed.

So yes, be careful.

R

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Danger Will Robinson

Hmm. Isn't this one of those one-sided contracts that tried to establish trade restrictions that may actually be illegal? I mean, if we're throwing law around..

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Trollface

Re: Danger Will Robinson

XP hasn't been transferred to a new computer, honest. This is the same computer, I've just upgraded the Motherboard, Ram, CPU, Graphics card, Hard Drive and chassis. It's the same power cable and screws I've always used.

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Re: Danger Will Robinson

It's still running on the same physical computer... just encapsulated within a "compatibility layer".

Besides, I'm sure most readers here have collected plenty of valid XP licences throughout the last decade.

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Pint

Re: Danger Will Robinson

Bollox.

Hyperthetically, if I have a valid license for XP that is no longer in use, I'm perfectly entitled to transfer it to another installation if it's a transfer and not a copy.

Why do people still think EULAs are above the law?

Adding to that, breaking a contract doesn't automatically mean you are breaking the law anyway.

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Coat

Re: Danger Will Robinson

@auburnman.

"And that's what I've done. Maintained it for 20 years. This old broom's had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time."

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Facepalm

Re: Danger Will Robinson

"Hyperthetically"

Thank-you fellow commentards for not commenting on that abomination of a brain-fart (honestly!)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Danger Will Robinson

Thank-you fellow commentards for not commenting on that abomination of a brain-fart (honestly!)

Sometimes we take pity on people, but you've now exhausted the quota for this year.. :p

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Danger Will Robinson

Rodrigo et al., there is a difference between breaching the law and not honouring a private agreement between two parties--not to mention the matter of enforceability of said private agreement, or its compliance with local laws and regulations.

If you wish to see how this works in practice, I suggest searching court records for relevant cases in your jurisdiction. Apart from the scarcity of said cases given how widespread software licences are, it is a rather different story that you will see there compared to what you may read on press releases and advertising (!) from certain parties.

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Mushroom

Re: Danger Will Robinson

> Bollox.

Exactly.

Took the word right out of my mouth.

I have accumulated at least a half dozen or so W2000Pro / XPPro licences in the past years.

And I'll bloody well do what I please with them.

Cheers.

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Hardware?

Plus this solution only works if the only snag is software. If your problem is due to EOL hardware, you can't virtualized and you're basically on your own.

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JQW

Re: Hardware?

Even talking to external hardware by a network connection can be a bar to virutalisation if the device talks using a different protocol to TCP/IP. NetBEUI is one such protocol that last worked under Windows XP, but there's several others.

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Re: Hardware?

yeah , but if you're *still* using stuff dependent on extreme legagy protocols for mission-critical tasks , that you have a whole range of other problems, of which XP not being supported anymore is really minor.

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Re: Hardware?

That's the thing about the computer industry vs. other industries: they move at different paces. In most other industries, it's pretty common to obtain a very expensive piece of equipment and expect this equipment to last a few decades at least (otherwise, amortizing the cost over the life of the equipment isn't worth it). Many of these industries are small, highly-competitive, and wary of the competition. This means there are no standards in them since no one trusts the other to agree on anything. End result: the machines become black boxes, and the computers that control them (part of this black box and the point of contention here) are full of proprietary trade secrets. It's a Hobson's Choice since all the players do the same thing; you have to put up with it or you can't play in the industry.

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WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

So people are loading up and running windows 7-8 just so they can run xp virtually? Is that what's going on here?

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Facepalm

Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

Yes. That's exactly what they are doing.

Windows 7 (and 8 presumably though I've not delved that deeply as yet) has many different tools included to try to make old software run, but some software just doesn't play well. Let's face it, there are some companies out there that still use software that goes back to the days before Windows XP and elder sister Windows 2000 which only just worked when moved onto these systems. I know as I still have the onerous task of dealing with some of this software!

While Microsoft can wail about the age of the underpinning that keeps XP from falling to bits and so forth, the other side of the argument is that much has been done by many to keep some applications, some of which are vital to some users, working on XP and have yet to receive the same degree of attention with regard to Windows 7+.

So you are surprised?

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

To be fair, any decent software vendor has been supporting Windows7 for at least 3 years - if a vendor is not able to provide support for Windows7 almost 5 freaking years (!) after the OS has been released, he's not worthy of my business.

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

Software vendors who haven't yet got their products running on 7 may not be worthy of your business, but what if everyone else thought that and they went bankrupt?

I think of examples where buy specialised hardware talks only to it's specialised software, which was made by a company that went bust years ago. The hardware works fine and replacing it is a cost that would hurt a small business (or a bigger one if they had lots of it...). In those cases (some of which still need a parallel port or some other ungodly connector) it would gall to spend often tens of thousands on new kit, just because an operating system was end of life.

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

It's not my problem when an incompetent vendor goes out of business.

End of life does not mean that all existing copies stop working. There's absolutely nothing wrong with running XP after it's no longer supported, as long as security measures are taken. Like keeping the computers off the network or on a dedicated VLAN with no access to the rest of the network. That desktop with that special exotic unsupported hardware can run another 10-20 years on Windows XP just fine. It just needs to be handled as a security risk, that's all.

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

What PhilipJ sais....

If the XP system is just used as a control box for some exotic/legacy/custom hardware the whole issue of "support" is moot, since it does not need to be connected to the interwebz ( or for that matter any ( open) network) per sé , so the Security Risks are basically a non-issue.

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

Old special-purpose hardware is a huge issue in some industries. An example from Australia. Some years ago I was asked to repair an ancient 386 system in a factory. It had an ISA card in it which communicated with and controlled a complicated metal-folding machine, which was used to custom-make air conditioning ducts. Without going into tedious detail, they wanted me to take on the difficult task of getting this system back up and running with the existing software and communications hardware. That was going to cost them what I thought was a fortune - there were complications which added up to lots of time and effort on my part - and it was still going to leave them with an upgraded but nevertheless ancient system. So I told them it just didn't make sense to fix it. For half that cost they could just buy a whole new computer and get a new model control and communications card from the manufacturer of the machine (who was still in business). Much easier and cheaper too, I thought.

But no: even setting aside the cost of the new control card and associated upgrade to the folding machine electronics, they would have to start by flying out (at their expense) a factory technician from Germany to do the upgrade. In short, it didn't matter if I spent weeks on the job and charged them thousands for it, it was still going to be vastly cheaper than upgrading, and get them back into production again sooner too. So that's what we did, I cobbled up some ancient old parts and fiddled about with it for as long as it took. The duct-folder and the computer I rebuilt went on happily making them money for another decade, and keeping their staff in work. Sadly, the large cheque they gave me in exchange for my efforts didn't last nearly as long: I spent it.

The point, of course, is that sometimes it's worth doing things in IT that seem mad on first sight, but which from a whole-of-business perspective, are sensible and practical, even if they do make life difficult for you, the IT person.

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

" if a vendor is not able to provide support for Windows7 almost 5 freaking years ..."

Using hindsight, perhaps.

How would you know this would happen, while XP was the latest? Also, how would you know such incompatibilities would be introduced?

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

you missed vista.

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Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

Yeah .. and you can do that for free using linux instead of w7 .

VirtualBox is available for every distro. There's no reason to use Win7 if you want to run XP .

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not to diss open source software

but VirtualBox is terribly sluggish compared to VMware, it's a night and day difference !

XP Mode in MS Virtual PC was not really fast either.

For personal use, the free VMware player is the best solution hands down.

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Re: not to diss open source software

Did you remember to install the Guest Extensions? This creates hardware abstracting bridges between host and guest making it much snappier.

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Re: not to diss open source software

of course - since it was unusable without those guest extensions (low resolution desktop etc)

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