Will running Windows XP within Windows 7 protect it?

(this is a follow-up question from a listener regarding the discontinuation of updates for Windows XP in 2014)

Q – I read your article about running XP in Windows 8 which raises and interesting point; can XP be easily run on a Windows 7 machine as well?  If it can, then would the Windows 7 security updates protect it?

A – Yes.  You can definitely run a ‘virtual’ Windows XP machine within Windows 7.  There’s even an ‘XP Mode’ from Microsoft that integrates into Windows 7 Professional that allows older XP programs to run almost seamlessly in the Windows 7 environment, but behind the scenes is running ‘virtually’ in Windows XP.

While running Windows XP as a ‘virtual’ machine within Windows 7 would provide some protection, it would be limited IF you are planning on running any programs that interact with the Internet.  One of the main problems with the lack of updates is that if some malicious code is presented from a website, a newer operating system and/or browser may be patched to protect against this malicious code doing any damage, but Windows XP may be defenseless.  I would highly recommend using a newer, patched version of Windows for any email, web browsing, etc. and using a ‘virtual’ Windows XP machine solely for running older, but important applications that won’t run on the newer Windows versions.

If you do plan on using a Windows XP computer after the 2014 ‘sunset’, it will be vitally important to use a 3rd party browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, NOT Internet Explorer) and to engage the use of a good 3rd party firewall.  I plan on going into further detail about this in a future post.

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