Installing and Using Windows XP In The Year 2017

Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. Installing it will usually result in a less than satisfying experience, until some fixes are applied manually. This article will explain why and how to do that.

It’s 2017 For Crying Out Loud, Are You A Madman?

Yeah, yeah. Windows XP has it’s flaws. Microsoft doesn’t support it. Everyone says move to Windows 7/10. Security concerns and marketing scare tactics aside, there’s a whole lot of computers and laptops out there with Windows XP still, and here are a few reasons for maintaining such a machine:

  • The computer is a hand-me-down for a family member or kid. Nothing expensive to worry about if it gets damaged. You did pay for this thing, remember? You did purchase software and games for it back in the day, remember? Might as well squeeze out that extra ounce.
  • The computer cannot be upgraded to a newer version of Windows due to hardware requirements. You did pay for this thing, remember? Just because Microsoft doesn’t support it doesn’t mean you need to trash it. The computer still computes.
  • A service technician needs to interface with an old machine (like an office copier or PBX phone system), using an older cable interface such as 9-pin serial, or older software program such as MS-DOS. Sometimes Windows XP is the only solution here.
  • The computer is part of a legacy system or network environment that cannot be replaced without incurring overhead, downtime or fees. Chain restaurants like Subway may still use Windows XP for taking orders. These are typically disk imaged to make fast deployment and repair possible, working as a turnkey restaurant solution.
  • You want to run a virtual machine (VM) with a licensed copy of Windows for whatever reason.
  • You’re a cheapskate and thought it was a good idea to buy a computer w/ original media on eBay or at a pawn shop for $50. I won’t say that was a good idea, but you may still be in luck.
  • The computer is kept around for preference, nostalgia or cyberpunk/cypherpunk reasons. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

For these reasons it is a good idea to always save your Windows XP disc and serial number. These are things you paid money for, and there is no way to recover them if lost. Another important thing to save is the driver disc, because as these computers get old it becomes more difficult to find the drivers online.

Now let’s walk through the steps necessary to get this antique operating system up and running.

Warning, Do Not Ignore This Warning

Whenever you obtain a computer from a third party, you need to understand there is a chance that it already has malware/spyware on it, just waiting to snag your credit card numbers. Your best bet is to format the hard drive and reinstall Windows XP, but if you can’t do that, you will definitely want to run at least 3 different virus/malware scanners before using it. And it might be a good idea not to use it for critical stuff like banking.

And like I said earlier, Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft which means they won’t patch any security problems and you could be a sitting duck for some kind of remote exploit. Good antivirus software and firewall can help mitigate these issues, but you must understand that using an OS which is no longer supported is not recommended. Do so at your own risk.

You could always use the computer without an internet connection, then there would be practically nothing to worry about. But you must still be careful with removable media like USB thumb drives and external drives which can spread malware from one device to another – even without internet. Consider this scenario – your Windows XP computer has a virus you are unaware of, you plug in a thumb drive, the virus gets on the thumb drive, then you give the thumb drive to a friend or you plug it into your other computer (which does have internet). Woops!

Final word of warning – scan every file you download for viruses/malware, including the ones I’ve linked in this article.

Installing and Updating Windows XP

If you’re installing or reinstalling Windows XP in the year 2017, it’s probably NOT going to work right away without applying a few fixes manually. You’ll find that the included version of Internet Explorer isn’t capable of exploring the internet (at all), and Windows Update won’t run due to error code 0x80072EFF.

Step 1 – INSTALL WINDOWS UPDATE CLIENT 3.0

Download: Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

This step is useful because nearly everything in Windows XP is tied into the Windows Update service, so we need that to be functional before proceeding with anything else.

Once you have the Windows Update Client 3.0 installed, you’ll notice some Windows Updates start to trickle in and you may see the little Windows Update icon near the clock, or you may be prompted to install updates during Shutdown.

We can usually ignore these trickling updates and proceed immediately to Step 2.

Step 2 – INSTALL WINDOWS XP SERVICE PACK 3

Download: Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

This will install a bunch of updates which will allow us to install Internet Explorer 8 in the next step, which finally gives us access to the Windows Update website. Once you have the Service Pack 3 installed, proceed to Step 3.

If you’re unable to install Service Pack 3 at this point, you might need to apply a few of the Windows Updates that have trickled in first. Go ahead and install any of the updates that appear. Reboot and repeat as necessary until no further updates appear, then proceed to Step 3.

Step 3 – INSTALL INTERNET EXPLORER 8

Download: Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

In this step we will upgrade Internet Explorer 6 or 7 to version 8. Once this is installed, you will be able to visit the Windows Update website and install additional updates like normal.

Step 4 – INSTALL REMAINING WINDOWS UPDATES

You’re almost done installing Windows XP! Now just visit the Windows Update website and keep installing the updates that appear there until the computer is fully up to date.

Step 5 – INSTALL HARDWARE DRIVERS

At this point the computer is up and running on Windows XP, but you probably need to install some hardware drivers to get the full benefit your computer has to offer. This is easy if you still have the driver disc, or if the drivers already got installed through Windows Update. In any case, it’s a good idea to check Device Manager and see what’s missing.

Right click on My Computer, choose Manage, then look for any yellow question marks under Other devices. These are hardware devices that still require a driver to be installed in order to function properly. The names of these devices will be ambiguous – Modem Device or SM Bus Controller – but you can Google these names along with your computer make/model and usually find the matching driver.

For example: dell latitude d630 modem device driver (tons of results)

Be careful here and make sure you are downloading drivers from reputable sources and not some shady website. When in doubt, scan the driver files with a virus/malware scanner before installing them.

You’re done now. The computer is fully functional as if it just came out of the package. Well…kinda. Pat yourself on the back. Have a beer. Finally, check out some recommended software for Windows XP at the end of this article.

True Windows XP warriors should proceed to the next section.

Harden Windows XP for Better Security and Performance

(coming soon)

Recommended Software for Windows XP

Web Browser Software

FireFox – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2 | uBlock Origin
The latest version of FireFox is still supported in Windows XP as of this writing. There are some truly talented, dedicated and admirable developers maintaining this software 🙂 You should pick up the uBlock Origin add-on as well for blocking advertisement networks.

Tor Browser – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This is basically FireFox with extra security and privacy features and utilizes the Tor network for anonymous browsing. It disables a lot of common browser features to prevent websites from identifying you, tracking you, or stealing your data. That said, the browsing experience will be much slower than using plain old vanilla FireFox. I’d only recommend this for advanced users.

Opera 36 – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
A pretty good browser from what I hear, but I’ve never used it.

Google Chrome 46 – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
Chrome is currently at version 56 as of this writing, but that version doesn’t support Windows XP, so version 46 is what you’ll need. I’d recommend FireFox over this, but maybe you still use Chromecast or other Chrome-specific stuff.

Creation & Productivity Software

OpenOffice – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
A free alternative to Microsoft Office which supports Microsoft file formats such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Gmail, Google Apps and Google Hangouts – Mirror 1
Gmail is simply a super reliable and very secure email service. Google Apps such as Google Docs and Google Sheets work in your web browser and act like a Microsoft Office alternative, with support for the Microsoft file formats. As a bonus, your documents are saved in the cloud. Sign up for Gmail and you get access to Google Apps / Hangouts automatically. The cool thing about Hangouts is that Google has integrated their Google Voice service into it. Google will give you a real phone number and you can make real phone calls with it for free by using a microphone or webcam attached to the computer.

Snip Tool – Mirror 1
I can’t live without the Snipping Tool in Windows 7. Unfortunately, Snipping Tool isn’t available for Windows XP, but Snip Tool is an alternative that will work. It was developed by me.

Thunderbird – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
From the makers of FireFox, this is a desktop email client which used to be very popular. I’ve never used it myself.

Pidgin – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This is a universal instant messenger program which supports a number of different chat protocols such as AIM, ICQ, XMPP, etc. An alternative to Pidgin is called Trillian, but I haven’t used that in over 10 years.

Foxit PDF Reader – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
For viewing PDFs and printing to PDF. The installer tries to pull you into some free trials, you’ll want to dodge those. Latest version still works in Windows XP.

GoldWave 5.70 – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
GoldWave is audio editing software with a ton of features and decent user interface. It’s like Audacity only better. Version 5.70 is the last working version for Windows XP.

Reaper – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
Digital audio workstation (DAW) software which enables one to record and create beats, loops, multi-track audio, and full blown songs.

GIMP – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
Full fledged image editing software with many features that put it nearly on par with Photoshop.

Paint.net 3.5.11 – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This is a decent alternative to Microsoft Paint, with some Photoshop-like features minus the bloat.

Sublime Text – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This is a very snappy text editor that I like to use for writing code, especially HTML. The latest version 3 still supports Windows XP.

File Management Software

7-Zip – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
Open-source file compression software that supports the most common types of archives such as zip, rar, 7z and iso. Latest version still supported in Windows XP.

FileZilla FTP Client – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

MagicDisc – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

PowerISO – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

Antivirus & Computer Maintenance Software

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

Spybot S&D – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

BitDefender – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

CCleaner – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2

Advanced

Visual Studio 2010 Express – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This was hard to find a link for, but Visual Studio 2010 Express will let you develop C++, C# and VB.NET apps (among many other types of projects) in a Windows XP development environment. You will need to burn the iso file to disc and install from disc, or mount the iso using MagicDisc or PowerISO.

NetBeans – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This is mainly for developing Java apps, if that’s your thing. It’s not really my thing.

NirLauncher – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
Amazing set of over 200 utility programs for digging into every part of Windows. Includes Nirsoft utilities, with optional addon for including Sysinternals utilities.

Winspector – Mirror 1 | Mirror 2
This will let you view real-time information about the operating system and running processes, such as low level Windows Messages, Window classes, child Window heirarchy, etc. Useful for reverse engineering stuff and finding out how software works internally.

Where To Obtain Older Software

OldVersion.com, OldApps.com, Oldware.org, FileHippo.comMajorGeeks.com, Last Freeware Version

(this article is being updated with more information and thus still a work in progress)

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30 Comments

  1. Very useful information. The thought of running Windows 10 or 8 (aka Spyware OSes), is a no go. Though I’m on Linux, I still occasionally miss XP.

    The last time I ran Windows XP, I went through a hardening process. There are a number of services that can be turned off, a number of useful utilities to help tweak settings/turn off “features”, a an improved firewall, etc.. Certainly replacing the browser with a privacy-respecting one loaded with security extensions is an important step.

    This could turn out to be an interesting series of articles if you go with the hardening stuff and replacement apps for the ones provided by MS.

    • Wow thanks for the link, I had no idea about that. You’ve just added way more value to this article! I have actually built kiosk software for Windows XP Embedded and also serviced a Windows XP POS computer at a popular food chain, so that’s how I kinda knew XP wasn’t going away any time soon unless Microsoft goes door to door with a pitchfork.

  2. Your article states: Step 4 – INSTALL REMAINING WINDOWS UPDATES

    How? If I click on check for Windows updates, it tells me my browser is out of date. I can’t upgrade browser, IE8 is the best XP can do. How do we get remaining updates?

    • That’s strange…I was able to do it a week ago when I formatted an XP laptop for a friend and then published this article, so I’ll have to re-test it.

      You could also make sure Automatic Updates is turned on and the updates may slowly trickle down over time – install them with the yellow update icon in system tray or check if there is an “Install Updates and Shut Down” option. The updates like to appear in different places like that.

      I know I installed some of those trickle updates because they kept appearing, so I said sure why not. There were several little updates and reboots before I visited Windows Update so maybe that was it.

    • Wanted to update my earlier comment/question.
      Apparently I was missing some update, maybe an IE8 update or Windows Update Agent update?
      After installing IE8 and SP3, I then downloaed and installed unofficial SP4 and now when I click Windows Update it works flawlessly.
      Thanks.

  3. I still use XP because it still does virtually everything I want to do.
    The only significant exception is playing some of the newer Direct X games, in which case I simply boot into Windows 7, then back to XP when I’m done playing.
    – XP has an insanely huge library of amazing software.
    – XP uses very little resources when you configure it properly.
    – XP is excellent for privacy & security if you know how to configure it properly. It has few back doors that are easily closed and just a little M$ spyware that is easily disabled. Newer Windows operating systems have increasingly more security/privacy issues. Windows 10 is essentially one giant ball of spyware. Also, most people who create malware & exploits are no longer targeting Windows XP; their focus is on newer operating systems.
    – There is a huge amount of knowledge & tools accumulated on the Internet for configuring/tweaking/customizing XP, and simply getting things done.
    – I’m able to still get full use out of all of my older desktops & laptops thanks to XP.

  4. paperotta says:

    why the windows update site does not work since one week?
    (I have a windows professional sp3 with ie 8 and update agent 3.0)
    🙂

  5. M$ pretty much left a vacuum when they dropped XP, a vast majority of apps still runs better on XP. Seeing that 7, 8 and 10 breaks compatibility with each instance. No one want 8 because of Metro, and no one wants 10 because of the privacy issues. So we a left with XP & 7.

  6. For those having problems with XP not updating download “WSUS offline” . Download version 9.2.2 and have ALL windows XP updates and .NET installed.

    Once you have all updates you can connect with Windows Update no problem. Secondly, Apply the XP registry hack which gives you updates until 2019.

  7. Don’t forget MinGW and Code:Blocks for Programming runs fine with WinXP
    I use WinXP every day. It runs fast on “modern” Hardware. In my cases on Intel Core Duo, AMD FX, Nvidia 660gtx….

    Win10 has Spyware inside out of the box 🙂

    • Someone random on the Internet says:

      Jesus Christ! Windows XP on a GTX 660? Think again, brother! You could be playing GTA 5 and all kinds of new games if you were at least on Vista (but at this point of time, even Vista has been dropped by programmers). I would say use at least Windows 7, if not 8. I understand 10 is spyware, but there is Windows 8, which ony gets the spyware through some updates, which are known by the community by now and the new ones will get identified anyway. So, think about it, I would say.

    • Bullwinkle J Moose says:

      Someone random on the Internet says:

      Jesus Christ! Windows XP on a GTX 660? Think again, brother! You could be playing GTA 5 and all kinds of new games if you were at least on Vista
      ——————————————————————————————————————————————————-
      XP-SP3 works fine with the 700 series
      I use XP with a 750TI to play GTA-V, then simply reboot to 7 / 8.1 or Spyware Platform 10 to use 64 bit crap

      No need to go to the BIOS to change boot order either….
      The computer simply boots to whichever boot drive is currently connected

      I can swap boot drives AS the system is rebooting without messing with dualboot systems or messing with the BIOS

      A simple SATA to ESATA + USB Power cable is all that is needed for 2.5″ drives and SSD’s
      (3.5″ drives require 12 Volt Power)

      Never had a problem with it corrupting my data, but I WOULD recommend shutting down before swapping drives just to be on the safe side

      To switch from SATA boot drive to a Windows to Go Thumb Drive, I just pull the USB power cable from the back of the computer and plug in the thumb drive while its rebooting

      SO SIMPLE!
      You only need to mess with the boot order in the BIOS if you have 2 or more drives plugged in

    • Bullwinkle J Moose says:

      ERROR IN POST

      I meant I can use XP with a 750 TI but REBOOT to 7 / 8.1 or Spyware platform 10 to play GTA-V

      GTA-V will not play in XP as you already know

      I was typing faster than thought

  8. Is there any way to get the superpack 3 and other updates offline on CD?

  9. Awesome guide, thanks! I haven’t used XP in ages and just installed it in a VM to see if it’s still usable and surprisingly it is! I just have trouble activating it, nothing I’ve tried works so far

  10. Bullwinkle J Moose says:

    Running XP-SP2 “RIGHT NOW” without ANY Microsoft Security Updates!

    Not worried about Wannacry or any other malware either

    How?

    I disable Javascripts
    Flash is not allowed
    most of the XP vulnerabilities are patched with a portable app called “Safe-XP” (Checked everything except “Run” and “Search”)
    Firefox 52 Extended Service Release still supports all my plugins
    Antivirus is over a year old but not worried about it as I can scan any downloads with a brand new AV rescue disk
    “ALL” Microsoft components are blocked from accessing the Internet as well as ALL Antivirus components using an aftermarket firewall (Sygate Pro)
    ONLY Firefox is allowed to connect!

    AND, the cherry on top is that the O.S. is READ ONLY!
    Anything malicious can be instantly wiped with a simple reboot by using a program called Driveshield

    All my portable apps run fine on a Read Only Operating System

    Portable apps prevent DLL conflicts and registry errors that cause Lock-ups, crashes, Blue-Screens and Reboots
    A perfectly installed copy of XP has been running here for over 10 years without a single Blue Screen of death

    This box is bulletproof and cannot be wrecked by any known group, whether it’s Israeli Military, Chinese Military, Russian Mob, or the NSA

    That doesn’t mean it cannot be HACKED!
    I would NEVER use it for online banking or sensitive passwords (Thats wut Linux Live is for)
    But you can never permanently wreck this system

    Dual BIOS is password protected and can be restored from a READ ONLY Copy of the main BIOS if that ever goes bad

    Intel Management Engine is DISABLED!

    So Come On Tuff Guys…….
    WRECK MY BOX!!!!

    Bullwinkle J Moose

  11. XP, was a nice OS. I wish I was still 2 years old when windows 7 wasn’t yet out. But now I prefer 8.1 and 7, they’re quite decent OS’es. But not the windows 10 ball of uglyness and spyware

  12. After win98 went out of the release date, I have been using XP ever since. I have version 5.1 bild 2600.xpsm with service pack 3. I would not say it has worked flawlessly over the time, but I have had very few faults. I would like to say that xp worked as well as my linux slackware on another computer. I have tested it against windows 10 and found it to be about the factor 4 faster. If you have a good anti virus software with updates and a very commercial firewall then windows xp is a very good OS.

    Mike

    • Someone random on the Internet says:

      So what? Of course it’s faster, it was designed for hardware that now is 20 years old. Windows 10 is much more advanced, but Windows 10 is not the only OS in the world besides XP, you know. There is Vista, 7 (which is good if you like Internet slowdowns), 8.1, Linux and last and also least for most things, MacOS X.

  13. Just to add another “impossible to do” into WindowsXp. My Xp sp3 setup runs on a Gigabyte Nvidia GTX970 4gb vram video card. The Nvidia drivers were modded from instructions found here – http://mattpilz.com/windows-xp-drivers-nvidia-geforce-gtx-970-980-980-ti-titan-x/

    Needless to say games running under this video card just flies and in an os which came out what? 2004?

    The monitor i use is a Dell U2415 ultrasharp monitor which only has Display Port and HDMI outputs, no Dvi, no D-sub outlets,
    but it seems Win Xp doesnt mind, and uses the Display Port output seamlessly.
    Note there is one important caveat if anyone is using a new circa 2016/7 monitor with only
    Display Port output and is running Windows Xp – ensure that your monitor’s settings (tune this from your monitors
    on screen menu) has Display Port Standard 1.2 set to “Disabled” or Win Xp will not boot to the desktop and will instead go into a blank screen in “power saving mode” eventually re-booting into Safe Mode.

    Its very satisfying to be able to use software from the late 90’s to early 00’s in Xp.
    Truly a wondrous Os. Long live Xp.
    I also use Windows 8.1, 7, Ubuntu Linux, and EComstation.

  14. I’m still clicking and clacking along with my Windows XP home computer. I absolutely love it. I don’t need all of the bells and whistles. My Avast still supports it, whew… and Firefox. Without the two of them I don’t know what I would’ve done. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think I originally paid around $800. I was able to add some additional RAM and restored all of it by myself. I had no idea what I was in for and it took me a month to get it back up and running properly. It’s my faithful friend. You may have many, many friends but your Windows XP only has one….you.

    Others may come and go. The faster, sleeker models but Windows XP is reliable, true and faithful. We don’t get rid of our dogs when they get old. Nooo, we take take care of them until…..well, I’m not going to talk like that. Windows XP, long may she live. She is the face that launched millions of newbies. Let’s keep going, my friends.

  15. Ok, they have taken my link down, I wonder why??? I have been working with OS software since back in the days of ms-framework and slackware. XP is still as actual today as it was when it came out. It presents no problems, or none that we can’t fix. Anyone who has blue warning screens should look very serious look at how the system works and how it connects with outside world. If you lock down the inbound ports and only open that which you really need, and then get rid of that process gobbling, memory hunching anti-virus software, then windows xp runs smooth and fast. I am not going to get rid of my xp and go for windows 10, the biggest virus ever. I can make this work for the next 10 years or so.

  16. “ntkrpamp.exe” & “halmacpi.dll” can be replaced with a hacked version allowing the full use of whatever ram is in your XP system. So far I went from 3.25 GB of ram to 15.9 GB, and can do things with XP I couldn’t dream of before.

  17. Thanks for great article. I know some may say why on earth run WinXP we normally are on linux but computer got damaged and we have bought and old one in the meantime. Even light version of linux will NOT work on this-otherwise in good shape – old computer. The only OS that will run decently is Win XP with company (HP) proprietary drivers. Pentium chip at 1500mhz 32bits is HORRENDOUSLY slow. Ram is ok and HD too. Point is we need to run XP untill we buy a linux high end computer

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