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:
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:
Howto convert from VMware to VirtualBox
VMware Download Center
Howto migrate a Windows machine to VirtualBox