Windows 8 is a great operating system in a lot of ways, but also has a lot of potential downfalls that I previously covered in an article titled “Why Windows 8 Will Fail In The Eyes Of The Average Consumer.”
Windows 7 allowed users to run Windows XP applications with a special Windows XP mode, unfortunately however, in Windows 8 this mode is no longer supported. This means technically if you want to run Windows XP in a virtual machine, a license would be required.
Instead of having to fork out money for a Windows XP license though, Lifehacker has a solution. Apparently one of their readers discovered that inside “the free WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe file, there’s a VirtualXPVHD file containing the Windows XP virtual machine, which you can open in VirtualBox.” As such, in this tutorial you will learn how to run Windows XP in Windows 8 for free.
Step 2) - Next you will need to use an archive tool to open the .exe file as an archive.
Step 3) - When you have opened the .exe file as an archive, navigate to sources/xpm and extract that folder to your desktop.
Step 4) - Within the xpm folder you will find a file called VirtualXPVHD. When you find this file rename it with a VHD extension.
Step 5) - The next thing you will need to do is install Virtualbox and then open the renamed VirtualXPVHD file in Virtualbox.
That’s it! You now have Windows XP running on Windows 8 for free, without the need to purchase an additional license. Lifehacker also notes that it might be possible to use Windows 8 Pro’s Hyper-V virtual machine manager, but they have not been able to verify it will work or not.