Basically, if you would save your old Windows XP machine to your new Windows 7 machine, the best thing you can do is to virtualize your old machine.
There are three cost-free virtualization solutions available:
- VMware Server or VMware player from VMware ( www.vmware.com )
- Microsoft Virtual PC from Microsoft
- Oracle VirtualBox ( www.virtualbox.org )
I have tried all three, and I’m preferring VirtualBox for this because it seems to be the solution with the smallest overhead. VMware has become very fat, and also Virtual PC seems a little bit slow.
For the conversion of a living machine, there are only two handy tools available:
- Sysinternals Disk2VHD tool creates a VHD image from a living machine (but please pay attention: there is a 127 GB limit) and can prepare it for use in MS Virtual PC ( live.sysinternals.com )
- VMware vCenter Converter Standalone from VMware creates a complete VMware virtual machine (VMDK file) ( www.vmware.com )
The easiest way is using of VMware Converter to create a virtual machine and use these in VMware Player or server.
The Microsoft way can be easy also, but when there is something that does not work you can spend several hours until the entire thing works (there are two limits: 127 GB max for the virtual disk, and as host you need a Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, no Home).
The personally preferred solution is to use VMware Converter to create a VMDK file, and use this then in VirtualBox, and this will be described more detailled here:
- before launching the conversion with VMware Converter, you need to apply the MergeIDE tool (you can find the link here )
- convert the machine saving the files to a network or USB drive
- copy the virtual machine to the host machine
- create the new virtual machine using the copied virtual machine files
- in the settings of the virtual machine, you need these settings:
select PIIX4 als IDE controller
- After this you can try to start your machine. Unfortunately, probably you will have to re-activate Windows because of the “hardware” change.
It is not so easy because before activating Windows over the network, you will need to make the network to work.
If you are lucky, you have 3 days to do this, but on a Fujitsu Siemens machine (with a BIOS locked XP license) the only way to logon was a prior activation over the phone: the network can be configured only after login, but without activation a login was impossible.
- if your machine was member of a Windows domain, its will be the best to configure the network as passthrough, not as NAT, because otherwise the domain controller cannot be reached.