I am currently using an XP machine which runs a billing application which is no longer supported (company ceased business), but which is invaluable for my business. I know the XP will not go on forever, so I'm wondering if I clone the hard drive onto an external hard drive, can I access the application from a new Windows 7 machine?
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You could install another HDD to your XP computer and install Win7 on the new HDD. This would make your computer dual boot. After POST, you could select the operating system (XP or Win7) you want to use. You could select XP to gain access to your billing program, and Win7 for your other applications.
Thanks for the suggestions, Treefrog. The original installation was by download, and then there was a authorization code email to make the install operational. Since the company is defunct, reinstalling would hit the wall without the code. On your other suggestion, I assume the computer would have to be re-booted each time we switched to xp to use the billing program?
Due to the way applications install within an operating system’s registry, it is unlikely that the billing application in question would be accessible in an external format from within a new operating system. Instead, what would be advisable would be to consider the two following options.
The first method which treefrog07 mentioned is to create a dual boot, or multiboot configuration between Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 7. The first step, as you also stated, is to ensure you have a separate location for each operating system you intend to use. In this scenario you will want to have one partition for Windows 7 and a second, separate, partition for Microsoft Windows XP Professional. Just as an added tool, Microsoft has a helpful video of how this process is performed here. Another great resource is the multiboot step-by-step guide Install more than one operating system (multiboot.)
However, with that said, perhaps the easiest way to run Microsoft Windows XP within Windows7 is through Windows XP Mode and Virtual PC just as another member of this thread pointed out. Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC, available on Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate, allow you to run multiple Windows environments, such as Windows XP Mode, from your Windows 7 desktop. For those who do are not currently running Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate, there is an easy upgrade path to Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate through the Windows Anytime Upgrade program.
Please note that Windows XP Mode is a virtualized environment and is not recommended for graphically intense applications. If utilizing Windows XP is contingent upon the use of a graphically intense piece of software, it would be advisable to consider the previously mentioned dual boot environment as a more successful path.