Windows XP is undeniably one of the best operating systems of all time. During its day in the sun as Microsofts flagship OS, XP garnered a reputation for ease of access, simplicity in design, and reliability in a way that few operating systems made before or since could match, so much so that a large number of offices and workplaces around the world still run it even today. Windows Vista, not so much. But given the popularity of XP, the ability to run Windows 7 in XP Mode in a virtual machine, which allowed users to run programs specifically made for XP, became one of the most beloved features of that iteration of Windows. But unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t being so kind this time around with Windows 8, which only allows users to run their PC in XP Mode if you already have the license for it.

Thankfully, there’s a workaround. While the license itself isn’t free, the actual download for Windows XP mode is, and within the download file is a VirtualXPVHD file that already contains the XP virtual machine. By opening it in VirtualBox, you can get XP Mode working without the license. Here’s how:

1.) Download WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe from Microsoft. You’ll need to run the validation tool to prove your copy of Windows is valid.
2.) Then use 7-Zip or another archive tool to open the EXE file as an archive.
3.) Within that archive, find the “sources/xpm” file within it, and extract that folder to your hard drive.
4.) Finally, in the extracted xpm file, you’ll find a file called VirtualXPVHD. Rename it with a VHD extension.

Then, all you have to do is open the VirtualXPVHD file in VirtualBox, and you now have Windows XP Mode in Windows XP Professional without having to buy the XP license. But as is the case with most loopholes with Microsoft products, its probably best to jump on the chance now before they figure out how to close it.

(via lifehacker)