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Windows 7: Safety of XP Virtual Window with end of support

09 Mar 2014   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
Safety of XP Virtual Window with end of support

I have two legacy programs that I open in a XP Virtual Window when running Windows 7. The programs are an accounting app and a desktop publishing app which are not Windows 7 compatible. I do NOT open these programs in the XP operating system window - I only open them directly from Windows 7.

With the end of support for XP on April 8th, am I at risk? Neither program can access the internet. But when I have one of these programs open I will get XP update notices. I just need to know if I must disable my internet connection whenever I use these apps. I would prefer not to since it is a PIA, but I will if I have to.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2014   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

No matter is it's a virtual or real XP installation, that date is merely a political act from MS when they officially say "We no longer care about XP and its users". The only practical difference is that they won't be publishing any more updates.

But the reality is, besides what MS says, for the real user and every installed system, that date means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Existing system will continue to function exactly in the same way as before (be it for good or bad), programs running on top of it will continue to run in the exactly same way as before.

As for the "risk", again, you'll face the very same risk from then on than today or yesterday or the very first day you put XP there. It won't magically become more insecure just because of this date. Since the first days XP was and still is quite a secure OS, if properly used and configured (not in the way MS suggests). Don't believe in all the FUD MS is spreading on it, since it's only used to promote their more recent OSs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Mar 2014   #3

Windows 10 Pro

@ Alejandro85

I disagree with you completely.


I would certainly disable the virtual xp machine from accessing the internet, for the simple reason that you are more prone to attack as windows will no longer get security updates. (Granted the attacks will probably only effect the VM and not the host.) If the applications do not need the internet, take the xp VM off of it. Or wait till the last second of april, download all windows xp updates and then remove the network access.

A VM is safer for your host os, but if you have sensitive info on the XP VM I would remove it from the internet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Mar 2014   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


The truth lies somewhere in between what Alejandro and Andrew posted here above.

It is astonishingly naive to say that nothing changes, that XP continues to work and be as always. Especially the following statement is so utterly bad advice it should never have been published in a tech forum:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Alejandro85 View Post
As for the "risk", again, you'll face the very same risk from then on than today or yesterday or the very first day you put XP there.
Of course, as every Windows user with some thinking capacity knows, each day after the end of security updates will increase the risk. As you have certainly read in the media, a surprisingly large percentage of PC users is still using XP and will continue using it. Naturally the "bad guys" have also realized this and what we can expect is that these people will continue searching for vulnerabilities even more actively than before. For a reason: they know that if they can find one, Microsoft is no longer riding for rescue with a patch meaning they have better chance to success.

On the other hand, there's no immediate reason to totally give up and stop using XP, especially when used on a virtual machine. From your original post I understand you are using Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode? Here a few simple steps to help you to continue using it even after the support has ended:
  • If not already done, install a good antivirus program on XP Mode
  • Use Virtual PC's Undo Disk feature. It allows you to discard all changes whenever you feel unsecure or have reason to believe something unwanted has happened. All virtualization programs have a similar feature, for instance in Hyper-V it's called Checkpoints and in VirtualBox Snapshots
    • Enable Undo Disk:
      Safety of XP Virtual Window with end of support-2014-03-13_00h21_22.png
    • After shutting down, you can discard your changes:
      Safety of XP Virtual Window with end of support-2014-03-13_01h01_53.png
  • Keep your own XP Mode files and documents stored on an external device (important especially when Undo Disk feature is used for not to lose your files)
  • Use Shared Networking. It puts XP Mode in its own 192.168.131.X subnet and does not let possible malware infections through to your host system:
    Safety of XP Virtual Window with end of support-2014-03-13_01h06_45.png
No reason to stop using XP, on the other hand no reason to think it's as safe as before. Rational thinking and safe install / download habits will keep you going.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by GaryDZ View Post
I do NOT open these programs in the XP operating system window - I only open them directly from Windows 7.
It is totally irrelevant how you launch and use your XP Mode programs (launching from the host system, Windows 7's Start Menu, or directly from the XP Mode), they still run on the XP Mode virtual machine, not on the host system and are installed on the guest XP virtual machine, not on the host Windows 7.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Mar 2014   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


I got a visitor message about using the Shared Network option in other virtualization programs as told in my post above. For future notice, please do not VM or PM these factual questions, not for me regarding this thread or any other member regarding any other thread; only posting them in thread itself helps us to have a productive dialog and can help other users.

Using a VM to post additional questions becomes especially annoying when a member doing it has himself disabled the VM option on his profile page.

Using NAT (Shared Networking) on Virtual PC gives every vm the same IP, with default gateway This puts the Virtual PC vm's in a different subnet than the host machine, very effectively protecting the host and other networked devices from threats coming from virtual machine.

Only negative side effect of this is that different subnets makes communications with other networked devices harder, for instance a network printer cannot be installed on XP Mode when it's using Shared Networking. Trying it will only produce an error message about different subnets, to get it working you have to change Shared Networking to bridged mode. Personally I recommend keeping Shared Networking enabled, not to install network printer but instead move documents needing to be printed from XP Mode to host and printing from there.

How Shared Networking IP's are assigned on other virtualization programs, I do not know.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Safety of XP Virtual Window with end of support

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