Networking and Using Windows XP Mode

First Time Use of Windows XP Mode

Windows® XP Mode is a Virtual Machine (VM) created by Windows Virtual PC on Windows 7 host. Just as with any new PC you acquire, you would want to connect it to the network, maintain it securely, connect and use USB devices such as printers, storage devices and smartcards. When you launch the Windows XP Mode VM from Windows 7® Start menu for the first time after setup, you will notice that the VM is already connected to the network and is ready to use:

  • You can domain join the VM same way you would join a physical Windows XP host to a domain.
  • You can install applications which require network connection, such as Internet Explorer for example, and use them right away, both in a full VM and as virtual applications.
  • Similarly, you can easily attach USB devices to the VM and use them.
  • Maintenance of a Windows XP Mode VM which is connected to the network is similar to maintaining a physical Windows XP desktop, using Windows Updates.

In this article, we will look at the usage of these features in more detail.

Networking a Windows XP Mode VM

The default network setting of Windows XP Mode is NAT (Network Address Translation), but you can change it. NAT allows the host machine to act as an agent between the external network (e. g. Corpnet or Internet) and the VMs running on that host. The network will use the host's IP address itself, which represents the group of VMs on that host, to communicate with the VMs. The host can resolve the network packets to the specific VM they are intended for, using port numbers. This is why, the Windows XP Mode VM, using NAT as the default configuration, is ready to connect to the network upon first launch. However, note that the network communication has to be initiated first by the NAT configured VM. In VM settings in Windows XP Mode (Fig. 1), you can specify up to four emulated network adapter options, which can be assigned to any network card installed on the physical computer.

To change this configuration, the Settings dialog box shown in Fig. 1 can be accessed using ‘Settings’ option under ‘Tools’ element from the VM Window’s toolbar. When you click on the ‘Networking’ setting, you will find the following four options to choose from:

  1. Shared Networking (NAT) option shown in Figure 1 (Left) refers to a virtual NAT (Network Address Translation) which allows the VM to leverage the external TCP/IP network connected to the host. This is very useful if you regularly move the host computer between different network configurations. NAT is the preferred networking option when there is a shortage of IP addresses, a need to ensure the VM’s IP address is not targetable from an external network, or a need for connecting using WWAN.
  2. In contrast, Bridge mode uses the network adapter on the host. This option appears in the drop down menu as the name of the adapter. In Figure 1 (Right), it is shown as Intel® 82566DM-2 Gigabit Network Connection under Adapter 1. The VM is connected directly to the selected network connection of the Windows 7 host, and will behave like a separate physical computer on the same network. If the host has a wireless adapter, its name will appear in the dropdown list. In Bridge mode, Virtual Machine Network Services driver helps redirect the incoming network traffic to the correct VM and associate the correct MAC address in all outbound network traffic. In scenarios using VPN, Bridge mode is the preferred option.
  3. Choosing the option ‘Not connected’ disables the VM’s networking ability and completely isolates it from the network.
  4. ‘Internal Network’ option enables networking among only the VMs on the single Windows 7 host.

Fig 1new

Figure 1. Settings dialog box to configure a VM’s networking adapters as (a) Shared Networking (NAT) on the Left, or (b) Bridged mode on the Right

Windows Virtual PC (WVPC) emulates up to 4 DEC/Intel 21140A-based Ethernet cards per VM, each with its own unique MAC address. WVPC translates the instructions executed by the Windows XP network driver into network activity. Because the packets are handled as Ethernet packets, WVPC is protocol agnostic and can support protocols other than TCP/IP. All VMs connected to a specific virtual network can access traffic sent from and received by any other VM on that same virtual network.

Maintaining a Windows XP Mode VM

Network connection is necessary to properly patch a Windows XP Mode VM with latest security patches etc. Just as a physical machine with Windows XP OS on the network, the Windows XP Mode VM has the capability to contact the WU (Windows Updates) server, find out the available updates, and install the required ones. You can configure the Windows Updates during the initial setup of Windows XP Mode (Figure 2). It is recommended that Automatic Update option is selected. The VM will get serviced based on the selection (Automatic Updates, Only download, Only Notify, or No updates). This capability should be used to service VM for regular Windows XP updates, which requires that the VM is running and has network connectivity.

Fig 2

Figure 2. Selecting Automatic Update option during Windows XP Mode setup and connecting the VM to network are recommended

If you are running only virtual applications, then any notification from WU (e. g. reboot required, updates downloaded and ready for installation, or updates available) will be relayed to the Windows 7 host machine. You will then be able to take the necessary action, such as closing all virtual applications, opening the Windows XP Mode as a full VM, downloading and installing the updates etc.

Other security best practices, including installing an anti-virus software, are essential to the healthy maintenance of Windows XP Mode VM as well. For example, consider running an application based on Internet Explorer® 6 (IE 6) as a virtual application in Windows XP Mode. In this case, it is necessary to install anti-virus software in the Windows XP Mode VM, to prevent, detect, and remove malware, such as computer viruses, worms, and trojan horses, adware and spyware.

Using USB and other Devices in Windows XP Mode

Printers, flash memory sticks, external hard disks and backup disks, followed by digital cameras and smartcards are USB devices important to business users. In a Windows XP Mode VM, USB devices can be used in two different ways: Sharing and Redirection. In the default mode with all integration features enabled (explained in the previous article), Storage devices, Printers and Smart cards can be used without having to redirect the device manually, by simply sharing it with the host. This requires that the device driver is available both in the Windows XP VM and on the host. If the driver is not available on Windows 7, the device can be redirected to the VM, using these steps (Figure 3A):

  1. Plug in the USB device to the system, and click on the USB icon of the virtual machine toolbar. The device is then listed in the drop down menu.
  2. Install the device driver inside the VM when prompted, and start using the device in Windows XP Mode.

In the above scenario, clicking on the device name redirects it to the VM. When the device is redirected to the VM, it is available to the VM but not to the host; when the device is released, it becomes available to the host again. Thus, at any point in time, the device is available either to the VM or the host but not both, as shown in Figure 3A. Here, a USB pen drive plugged into the PC is shown (as USB 2.0 in VM Tool Bar under USB option) attached to the VM, and appears as ‘Removable Disk (E:)’ in the VM’s ‘My Computer folder’. Note that this device does not appear in the host’s ‘Computer’ folder (shown to the left) anymore. After selecting the ‘Release’ option for this USB device in the VM Tool Bar, it is not exclusively attached to the VM anymore (Figure 3B), but becomes shared between the host and the VM. In Figure 3B, the same pen drive can be seen shared as drive letter F:\ in the VM, and as a USB device on the host as well. Sharing option is available only for Storage devices, Printers and Smart cards, whereas a variety of USB devices can be used in the VM via Redirection.

Fig 3A

Figure 3A. USB Option Menu on the VM Tool Bar showing a USB pen drive exclusively attached to the VM

Fig 3B

Figure 3B. USB Option Menu on the VM Tool Bar showing a USB pen drive shared between the VM and the host

Users can also attach USB devices to virtual applications directly from the Windows 7 task bar. This means USB devices, such as printers and flash drives, are available to applications running in Windows XP Mode, without the need to go into a full VM mode. In Figure 4, to attach a USB pen drive to a virtual application (Microsoft Project®), user right clicks on the VM icon on the Windows 7 task bar, and selects the ‘Manage USB Devices’ option, which displays the shared device as ‘USB 2.0’. User can access the necessary data from the USB device from within the virtual application in this manner.

Fig 4

Figure 4. Using a USB device from within a Windows XP Mode virtual application

Windows XP Mode also supports up to two communication ports, for COM port devices. Each of these ports (listed in Settings as COM1 and COM2; Figure 1) can support a physical serial device such as a modem, a named pipe as a means to transmit information using shared memory with another process, or log the output of the specified I/O communication to a text file. Parallel port devices are not supported, as they are relatively rare today.

In Closing…

Using the Networking and USB device features of Windows XP Mode and WVPC is simple. Maintenance of Windows XP Mode VM works the same way as the maintenance of any computer connected on a network. Check out Windows XP Mode RC Build today, and let us know what you think, either via the comments section here, or sharing your feedback on the WVPC and Windows XP Mode Forum on Technet here.


Prasad Saripalli

Principal Program Manager

Microsoft Virtualization Team

Comments (58)
  1. @anonymous:  Thanks for your feedback, which we have noted.

    @ Jack Stockton: True.  Installing and maintaining A/V software in the VM is essential.  

    Thanks to all the users sharing feedback via email with us.

    Prasad Saripalli

  2. Anonymous says:


    Situation: Running VPC with network adapter in bridge mode.

    But the VPC does not receive Ethernet frames with destination MAC address multicast.

    Only Ethernet frames with destination MAC address broadcast (ff ff ff ff ff ff) or specific MAC address of the VPC network adapter will be forwarded to the VPC.

    So is there a possibility to configure the network adapter (in host or in guest) to forward also Ethernet frames with destination multicast?

    Thanks for any answer!

  3. anonymous says:

    Too bad there’s never a first time for everyone. First time many people try it, they get "Processor virtualization required" error.

  4. I would assume that an anti-virus software package should be installed and maintained in the Virtual machine?

    If you never merge changes, I wonder what the security risk is to the host computer?

  5. anon says:

    @anonymouse, try enabling Hardware Assisted Virtualization (HAV) in your computers BIOS.

  6. Gabor says:

    "Parallel port devices are not supported, as they are relatively rare today."

    XP Mode was made for "old" programs. At that time it was not so rare. I have this problem, and I found many people with same problems.

  7. mike geiger says:

    I am very disappointed.  Spent hours trying to get a named pipe application to work that has worked since 2002 on many XP systems.  Now there is a credential problem.  Used pipesec.exe and security looks the same as the regular XP security.  Tried adding various forms of full rights to ‘special’ users with no luck. Tried the registry fix with no luck.  Looks like MS gave us XP to support legacy applications that apparently does not support parallel ports or named pipes in a legacy manor.  Back to VMWare.

  8. mrbrown says:

    how can i print from an application in windows 7 using xp mode?

    or can i?

  9. Kayne says:

    I have been trying to utility both of my Ethernet ports.  1 for Windows 7 and 1 only for XP Mode.  For some reason Windows 7 still looks at the second nic for an IP address even though I have the 1st nic already setup to get onto the internet.

    I want to use 1 nic strictly for Windows XP Mode and the other strictly for Windows 7.  

  10. StewartW says:

    Turned off NAT and it seemed to work. However, I need to access data held on my C drive and it be on a drive called the C drive! So its sort of useless for me, but others may find it useful even though it seems a little like a publicity idea!

  11. Ed Walsh says:

    I have Fisher Price Computer Cool school.

    It has a USB keyboard for kids. It shows in Windows 7 as a HID device, but it doesn’t show in the Windows XP Mode. I click on the USB drop down in Virtual PC and it doesn’t show the USB device. Not sure how to get the WIN XP mode to see this USB Device?

  12. OliverN says:

    "Parallel port devices are not supported, as they are relatively rare today."

    XP mode is made for business to use software isn’t up to date.

    I ve got to run a cutting software with an sentinel parallel port dongle.

    It seems that it will never run in XP mode.

    I’m very disappointed about that.

    No parallel port support.

    They should google about "dongle problems".

  13. RaymondW says:

    I want to change the network setting from the default NAT to bridge. Select the network card in the setting drop list as shown in your article, no internet connection in XP mode. the XP mode network status shows it has assigned the ip address and connected, but it can not connect to any web site. change back to NAT all work fine.

  14. Barry says:

    It seems that this parallel port being left out because MS thought no one uses it anymore is a reflection of MS’s growing trend in researching only with trendy, upmarket, large users who do things very differently compared to the vast majority of users out there. This is now so typical of many software companies. They are like politicians, they don’t listen to the small fry who are the majority. They only listen to the big noted players who don’t represent anything but themselves so we all have to suffer for this arrogance. Can’t say I like Win7 any better than Vista, it might be faster but it sure is messy to use or look at, like the messy confusing Ribbons used now instead of good, clear menus. It was ever thus!

  15. Shaina says:

    Are HID devices supported in Virtual PC?

  16. Shaina says:

    NM – found my answer – HID devices are not supported

  17. PriNet says:

    Those looking to use parallel ports in XPvm? consider the USB to parallel adapter cable…?

    I have had to use both usb/serial & usb/parallel cables in my "newer" computers

    -just a thought

  18. Anaximandre says:

    PriNet: Many USB to parallel adapters are in fact USB to printer adapters (without real parallel capability) with which dongles do not work, and the problem is that they are advertised as USB to parallel, so you never know if you are buying the right adapter..

    One important function that is needed in XP mode is automatically attaching USB devices. I have an Agfa USB scanner that is not supported in Vista nor 7 (the scanner division of Agfa was shut down in Dec.2001), and it would be great if I could configure XP mode to attach the scanner when I start Fotolook (scanning software) or Photoshop CS2 in seamless mode.

  19. Bungo says:

    I’m using an app call ZDWLan (only works in XP), with a Yagi antenna.  I have it up on my VPc(xp mode). ZDWLan tells me my laptop is connected, but then gives an IP conflict message and no internet access.  Any ideas at all.  I tried some static ip, but to no success.  

  20. dimitris says:

    I have installed onecare and it blocks my internet connection. when i disable the onecare firewall everything works fine. i allowed ports 80, 445 and 21 without any luck. Any ideas?

  21. CLNOX says:


    Am trying to use XPmode in order to get a (16 bit) device to work.

    I installed VPC/XP in Win7 then launched the VPC installing and configuring the required software on the VPC as if i was a non VPC. however, although the software connect to the databases etc… on a server and can connect to the WWW and the ususal, it will not detect/communicate with the Serial Port Device. There is only a single com port so both the real and VPC are all configured to use COM1.

    one thing i did notice is that there are 3 items in device manager that are in the ‘Other Devices’ group that show as Unknow Intergration Device (or similar.. i cant remember exactly, sorry).

    Can anyone spot anything obvious i am doing wrong or overlooking in order to get the device communicating?

    I have a theory that even tho i am using XPMode, as the device is 16 bit, and needs to traverse trough Win7 to get to XPmode, it still will not work, due to 32/16 bit issues if that makes senses!!

    I will check back here for posts but if you could email me also on would be most appreciated.

  22. marwan says:

    if i have a localhost server ex. "apache" in my windows 7 …

    how can i access the localhost throgh xp mode ???

  23. Kirk says:

    Any way to add additional emulated com ports in the virual pc?  I need 6 total, and there are only two available…


  24. rod coxell says:




    ROD COXELL      

  25. David Nord says:

    Am trying to set windows 7 machine with xp mode @ work, its taking 2 IP addresses from DHCP. Is there a way to make it only use 1 IP (whats been assigned to the host machine)?


  26. mike says:

    Parallel port not being supported in virtual XP really sucks.  Guess I will have to stay with XP since application requires parallel port.

  27. MIke Collins says:

    I am trying to connect my Virtual PC to my work domain so i can run some programs that are still only working with XP, but when i open IE and type "connect", it does not run the wizard to connect to the network?

  28. David says:

    How many people will have to complain about parallel port support before the vm providers get it that this is a big problem for legacy application users, which is one of the big reasons for using a vm?

  29. Hemang says:

    How to maximise window of dos-base application in win xp mode??????

  30. Vinay Tiwary says:

    I am using Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit on my Dell vostro 1310 as a host and Win XP mode ruining as a guest. I am able to surf internet using NAT as a adapter 1 – which is default –

    Apart from that the other 2 options are Not-connected and Internal, i am not finding my network card listed in it. the usb menu i see Wireless/BT device – i tried attaching it but its not recognized, manual driver install also failed.

    i have to connect to SQL server as one of my application for Xp needs it. how do it get NIC in the adapter, please guide – thanks in Advance.

    PS: my wireless is "Dell Wireless 1395 WLAN Mini-Card" its inbuilt not external

  31. Rich says:

    I’m trying to use a program designed for XP in XP Mode which needs to use a serial port to comminucate to JDS Technologies Stargate. I can’t seem to get the software to recognize the device. How does one set it up? I also have an internal PCI Modem which has special driver software for another home automation program HAL2000 – But I do not see any options to access it.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

  32. Ed says:

    does windows XP Mode support COM ports?

  33. Just what I needed says:

    Thanks for this post.  This was exactly what I needed:

    "The VM is connected directly to the selected network connection of the Windows 7 host, and will behave like a separate physical computer on the same network."

  34. Bruce Jonsson says:

    Can’t figure out how to use windowsxp mode to load autocad to window 7, E-Mail me @

  35. Tony Schiavo says:

    DOS functions do not work correctly if at all in my Windows 7 Virtual XP environment.

    E.g., DOSKEY exists and apparently executes but does nothing.

  36. Jim Kress says:

    I see lots of questions but few answers.  Are the answers to the questions posted elsewhere?

  37. Sangwoo Han says:

    I can1 connect USB device which likes joystic usb.

    How can I connet it,,,,,

  38. Sangwoo Han says:

    I can1 connect USB device something like joystic usb.

    How can I connet it,,,,,

  39. Jessica3 says:

    How do I get the wireless USB NIC to connect automatically in XP virtual mode?  Right now I have to click USB and the Adapter's name to get it to connect.  Same with the "Mass storage device" which is the 15-in-1 card reader.  If this is something that won't happen then we will go back to regular Win XP as I refuse to show my users how to do this every single day when they log in.

  40. rolf says:

    I have my perfectly working XP virtual mode machine, but on the wrong host. Is there any way to move it and make it work on another Windows 7 host? Both hosts are Windows 7 64 bit.


  41. Sarel says:

    I don't have the option in my VM configuration to bridge the network connection to that of the host machine.  Am I missing someting?

  42. Nate says:

    Hi! My issue is when I right click on the virtual icon on the task manager I do not get the option "Manage USB Devices" It only says "Manage Virtual Machines"

    Please help!

  43. cooky says:

    I am unable to ping from xl mode but i am able to ping from  windows 7 plz help me

  44. DK says:

    @ Cooky: Did you have any DHCP authority in your network that provides IP settings? If not try to configure your networkinterface on the XP-mode; for instance if your Win7 has: IP: SUB: GW:…. then your XP-mode should have something like: IP: SUB: GW: and for the DNS you could fill in the same as your Windows 7 (start> cmd.. ipconfig /all delivers all information).

    For devices with Parallel and/or COM ports; there's some adapters available to connect them using USB.

    If you enable integration features; then your network disks and local disk (host), will be connected in your context of XP-mode (like shares but with letters).

    Also a problem in XP mode is the fact that you need administrative rights; it's possible without, but will deliver you a head ache… Users without administrative rights need to be added to the remote users local group, to be able to work on the xp-mode (in fact remote). But for restarting the system it seems like you need admin rights too, also for installing any usb/printer or other hardware.

    My own problem for Windows XP mode is the time it takes to close a "virtual application" in 7 context. This means, if I want to restart my host, it can take for hours to close the virtual appliance/virtual pc and if you're in a hurry and force the restart, my virtual harddisk (VHD) becomes corrupt and I can spend hours to rebuild a XP-mode (windows updates, antivirus, applications, configurations users).

  45. DK says:

    Sorry forgot to post what was my solution; don't shutdown the host… the guest can stay on running(slowmode), for a domain situation, there's a possibility to take away the shutdown buttons (only logoff available).

    Other idea would be to downgrade to XP 🙁

  46. wlan says:

    Try to turn windows 7 into hotspot

  47. Krog says:

    Two things in this article that don't seem to be the case:

    Can't get past step one as there are no "‘Settings’ option under ‘Tools’ element from the VM Window’s toolbar.". How do I configure this?  Where is the 'Tools' element you speak of?

    If I can't get past step one, then I take exception to the statement  "Using the Networking and USB device features of Windows XP Mode and WVPC is simple. ".   I can't see (or ping) any part of my network through 'View Network Computers'.

    You've really "microsofted" this article, as it is very "micosofty" (i.e: crappy with poor documentation).


  48. Suncat2000 says:

    Like Sarel, I don't have the option to bridge the host network adapter. How do we make them available for XP mode to use?

  49. xpmode is ok says:

    change from bridged to stand alone network adapter… this will work better if you want to RDP to the VM.  you can then set the VM NIC to a static IP.  I was unable to turn off the firewall so you have to add exceptions to allow RDP, SQL, ping, etc to work.  i also added VM to domain and it works without issues in a server 2003 environment.

    when bridged i was unable to get anywhere with RDP, ping… etc…

  50. Khaled says:


  51. bill says:

    can i use bridged mode to run my antivirus from host

  52. PT says:

    Typical Microsoft answers to no-one and no answers to anyone

  53. jw00 says:

    Im trying to connect to a Pi system in XP mode. I need to turn off the network inorder to reconize the Pi network cable. If i shut off the network it wont pick up the Pi cable. What do i do?

  54. John Bartram says:

    I have a CAD Cam system that has a parallel Dongle it did not cross my mind that XP Mode would not support the parallel port. Thought that was the whole idea of XP Mode other people must have large A0 plotters ETC.

  55. Arpita says:

    Pen drive is not detected.. .. 🙁

  56. Medbob says:

    On a number of machines, I created XP Mode machines in Win 7. We joined these physical Win 7 boxes to our domain, but now we cannot log into the virtual PC boxes. Any ideas?

  57. Stephen Owen says:

    The images in this post are super low resolution. Particularly crappy is the ‘NIC vs NAT’ mode image at the top of the post. Please update this post with modern graphics and resources.

  58. ashish_1 says:

    How to Connect MTS network Connection in Windows XP Any Solution ?

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