MS Windows XP SP3 Lives on… As a Virtual Machine


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There you have it-I said the “W” word—Windows. I guess I should probably elaborate a little more about what I am raving on about. Allow me to explain.

As Microsoft begins to wind down support for Windows XP SP3, with less than 12 months of support left, there is actually still market share for XP. Admittedly, there is no revenue in it for Microsoft, but XP SP3 still remains in high usage among Linux enthusiasts.

Thanks to Oracle VM VirtualBox, setting up a virtual machine on your Linux system has never been easier. XP is the perfect candidate for running a full-blown operating system in a virtual machine environment, such as VirtualBox.

Why Windows XP?

Windows XP SP3 sits right in a sweet spot. It’s not too old to be still be usable, yet it remains much slimmer than more recent iterations of Windows OS; Vista, 7 and 8. Thankfully, whatever your reason is for running XP in a virtual machine, there’s still enough software support around for most popular packages. Even printer manufacturers are still supporting XP SP3 with their drivers. Heck, I have even been witness to running a XP virtual machine on a netbook with low-specifications. I can admit, it still run just fine.

XP can run on very minimal resources. I remember my first ever experience with Windows XP was with an old Intel Celeron running 128MB of SD-RAM. Compared to today’s systems with large amounts of RAM, XP runs very well on even 128-256MB of virtual allocated RAM. Try running a more modern Windows OS on this amount of RAM. Even most mainstream Linux systems require more RAM than XP to run in a virtual environment. Hence why Windows XP SP3 is still the perfect choice for an operating system in virtual environments.

Installation and setup of XP is kept simple. And with the added benefit of full-support with the Guest Additions package being equally as easy to setup inside. Once configured, extra VM’s can be deployed by simply cloning the original setup and leaving your original as a base template for when things go pear shaped or you simply require another VM deployed for testing.

Of course, it’s not all bloom. With running an old operating system such as Windows XP SP3, you have an environment which is not as secure as more updated and modern operating systems. One could argue once setup correctly and in the right environment, most of the security can be handled by your Linux host. The security issue is a small concern and most certainly not a real reason to avoid running Windows XP SP3 in a virtual machine.

Whether you run a virtual machine for a test system, necessity of a specific software package or printer or simply for educational purposes, you’ll find that XP is the perfect fit to get a virtual machine up and running in no time for Linux users.

Microsoft may be slowly killing off Windows XP SP3 through dropping support, but I suspect Wit will live a long and healthy life in the form of virtual machines on Linux enthusiasts boxes.


Let us know if you run Windows XP SP3 in a virtual environment and why. Comment below.