Cheat Win XP DEATH: Little-known tool to save you from the XPocalypse

Your handy guide to keeping snubbed operating system ticking over

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

What comes next

Once it's working, the rest's just fine-tuning. The VM is already on SP3, but still, there's the usual tired old round of updates to do: it'll probably take a few passes through Windows Update. You can save a little time by going into Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs | Add/Remove Windows Components and removing absolutely everything except IE.

You don't need Media Player inside your VM and you don't need to waste time updating it, either. Assuming you've got lots of RAM, I recommend giving the VM 3GB – it's about all XP can use – and disabling the pagefile.

Windows XP mode running on Virtual Box

Once the VirtualBox extensions are installed, XP runs just fine... (click to enlarge)

Unless you have legacy intranet apps that require IE6, you can save some more time by downloading and installing IE8 before XP has a chance to download and install umpteen hundred patches for the old version.

Windows Update will take hours anyway, but since it's a VM, you can use your host OS for other things while the update chugs away. If you don't have a preferred antivirus, MS Security Essentials will do the job. Don't forget to enable Automatic Updates, after which, if you don't need IE, you can remove even that... and you're done.

The VM is just for your indispensable Windows apps – the idea is to use the host OS for Internet access, email and everything else. Don't access the internet from the VM. Now Microsoft has stopped updating XP, it won't be safe - the XP Mode site carries a hefty warning from Microsoft saying how it, like Windows XP, no longer benefits from technical support.

The last step is to enable VirtualBox's desktop-integration features (VM menu | View | Seamless). This is where it helps to be running Linux distro Ubuntu as I did, with its vertical Launcher. This lets you leave XP's taskbar at the bottom of the screen and they won't get in each other's way. If you prefer the more Windows-like environment of Mint, say, then you can make XP's taskbar vertical, or put it at the top, so that you can easily get at both.

Windows XP on Ubuntu in perfect harmony

Windows XP and Ubuntu in perfect harmony, thanks to Microsoft (click to enlarge)

OK, this is not a perfect solution, but it is quite a low-hassle approach plus the tools don't cost anything - handy in these cash-strapped times. But you do reclaim the support safety net.

What's more, this approach doesn't need antivirus or antispyware, and comes with an integral firewall and drivers for pretty much all current hardware. Meantime, you also get a fresh, sandboxed, clean and virus-free copy of XP Pro. It runs Windows apps with near-perfect compatibility, right on the host's desktop, complete with a shared clipboard and so on.

The best bit? You can continue to run Office for Windows or other line-of-business software, while transitioning gradually to some other solution – native Linux apps, Windows ones that will run cleanly under WINE (meaning that you can dispense with a Windows instance altogether), or possibly even VDI. Ubuntu comes with a perfectly usable Remote Desktop client, Remmina, so you don't even need a copy of Windows for that.

That's one way of escaping the XPocalypse. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story


Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.