Over the years, I had accumulated an eclectic array of hardware and software. Well, time has moved on and it was time to declutter. As for my Windows XP collection, this is what I had in my inventory:
- An Asus EeePC netbook with an Intel Atom CPU N270 @ 1.60GHz, 1GB RAM and 160GB HDD running Windows XP Home
- A Dell Dimension 2400 desktop with a Pentium 4 CPU @ 2.26GHz, 1GB RAM and 40GB HDD also running Windows Home.
- Windows XP Home original disks with product keys.
- Windows XP Professional disk without product key (I must have ditched that machine at some point in time).
- Various CDs with XP service packs.
Now, this brings us to a multi-faceted dilemma:
- I was keen on getting rid of the hardware, both the netbook and desktop, as they were just taking up space and they were unbearably slow, but…
- A large part of my working life was spent with early versions of Windows so there was some sentimental attachment to the operating system. On the other hand…
- Microsoft had tied activation of the product key to the hardware, and…
- Officially, Microsoft ceased support for XP on 8 April 2014, Since then, they have been trying their damndest to get us off this legacy OS.
So, with all this happening, these were my objectives:
- Ditch the hardware, but maintain original disks (and product keys) as proof of purchase, and…
- Keep the legacy of XP alive.
Key questions that came to mind:
Q: How was I going to get rid of the hardware?
A: Move the OS into a virtual machine (VM).
Q: If I was going to move XP into a VM, I really wanted to have XP Professional installed. I had the original disc, but had lost the product key as I’d ditched the machine it was on. Could this be overcome?
A: If you’re resourceful, you will find a way around this. I won’t describe the approach I took, as the practice would be considered questionable. Let me just say ‘There are many ways to skin a cat’ and ‘The internet is your friend.’
Edit: Here’s a hint.
Q: Windows activation was going to rear up its ugly head when I moved XP into the VM. Could this be addressed?
A: See answer to the previous question.
To cut a long story short, I was able to run XP in a VM, ditch the hardware and consolidate my software inventory. These are the list of legitimate tools I used during the process:
Due to its controversial nature, I won’t be responding to any questions on this post. I just wanted to bring to your attention that if you find yourself in a similar situation, with a little effort, you can find a way forward.
Having successfully virtualised XP, it was time to turn my attention to other legacy Windows hardware and software that I own including Windows Vista and Windows 95.
Words that describe my experience in key areas in getting Windows XP to a functional state:
- Installation – Wow! There’s some clever people out there!
- Windows Update – Pleasantly surprised.
- File services – Frustrating.
- Print services – Trivial.