Service pack 2 version number (2180). 7/10 (163 votes) - Download Windows XP SP2 Free. With Windows XP SP2 you will be able to install the second pack of updates necessary for that operating system. Download Windows XP SP2 for free to your PC. Windows XP is one of the users' favorite operating systems developed by Microsoft.

Support for the original release of Windows XP (without a service pack) ended on August 30, 2005. Both Windows XP Service Pack 1 and 1a were retired on October 10, 2006, and both Windows 2000 and Windows XP SP2 reached their end of support on July 13, 2010, about 24 months after the launch of Windows XP Service Pack 3. 8/10 (189 votes) - Download Windows XP SP2 Free. With Windows XP SP2 you will be able to install the second pack of updates necessary for that operating system. Download Windows XP SP2 for free to your PC. Windows XP is one of the users' favorite operating systems developed by Microsoft. Download Freeware. Windows XP - English. Disclaimer: Support for Windows XP was discontinued on 8 April 2014. Windows XP is no longer provided with security updates since then. It is recommended that you upgrade to a more recent version of Windows. You can find more details here.

Windows XP SP4 Unofficial Final Version 3.1b is now available!
Windows XP Unofficial SP4 Download Locations:
  • Cloud:
    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... sp=sharing
    (ATTENTION: Only the XPSP4 folder comes from me, not the top directory).
    Torrent [MAGNET]: Note: The MUI ISO in the torrent is outdated.
Verification information and description:
  • 1. WindowsXP-USP4-v3.1b-x86-ENU.exe
    Description: Windows XP SP4 Installer with POSReady Update support
    Includes March 2016 Windows Update registry fix.
    Version: 3.1b
    MD5: 7D2DB4F4C47355BB8C006DEF7A8AB563
    SHA1: 2C868FEEE1C078B1CBB7E9A8B4D035ED936B6BEA
    OS Date/Time Stamp: 8 March 2016 23:00:00 UTC
    Size: 993 MB (1040964815 bytes)
    2. WindowsXP-USP4-v3.1b-NODOTNET-x86-ENU
    Description: Windows XP SP4 Installer WITHOUT .NET Framework installation.
    POSReady Update support.
    Includes March 2016 Windows Update registry fix.
    Version: 3.1b
    MD5: fead3d46ceeb3b06d193f63ff3cb874a
    SHA1: 666e8f2720b447dafbb08cecc3381487c36a9b71
    OS Date/Time Stamp: 8 March 2016 23:00:00 UTC
    Size: 992 MB (1040862421 bytes)
    3. PATCHES-V3.1a.ZIP
    Description: Windows XP SP4 Patches
    Version: 3.1a
    MD5: DC525005FB33A2EB0FA3130F6B83DFA4
    SHA1: 8447159AACD6D45D3E9C54B30B5C46BFD9B77139
    Date/Time Stamp: 27 January 2016 15:00:00 UTC
    Size: 79.7 MB (83624817 bytes)
    Tools to create 6 Bootable Floppy Disks for older systems:
    4. WindowsXP-USP4-v3.1-Floppy-ic.exe
    Description: Windows XP Home Edition SP4 Floppy Disk Utility
    Version: 3.1
    MD5: F11756F6E50784050D0B9E1464F4B851
    SHA1: 3CD956D79D92C19358242479F1FD458C34DB132A
    Date/Time Stamp: 25 January 2016 15:00:00 UTC
    Size: 4.46 MB (4679426 bytes)
    5. WindowsXP-USP4-v3.1-Floppy-ip.exe
    Description: Windows XP Professional SP4 Floppy Disk Utility
    Version: 3.1
    MD5: EC486E7317B6D7FA62246703AC9BD0E4
    SHA1: 07FB0E312931E413553A50FFE896F02CDEEBC800
    Date/Time Stamp: 25 January 2016 15:00:00 UTC
    Size: 4.46 MB (4678992 bytes)
    6. PRODUKEYMODIFIER-V3.1.ZIP
    Description: Windows XP Product Key Update Tool
    Version: 3.1
    MD5: 4BAA040957CCE7C89B180BE00B2D8CE2
    SHA1: 12466D53C653B56CF7B69FE6ACB859B3D25DB4E4
    Date/Time Stamp: 25 January 2016 15:00:00 UTC
    Size: 1.05 MB (1102383 bytes)
WARNING! This RyanVM.net thread is the most trusted download location for Windows XP Unofficial SP4. Although some other sites can be trusted, users download at their own risk. Generally avoid other untrusted download locations!
DISCLAIMER: The author shall not be held responsible for any damage caused to your system. It is strongly recommended that you test this update before deployment!
Please contact me at [email protected]. You can also post you comments below.
UPDATE [June 7, 2019]: Post-SP4 Update Pack released!
[2019 Christmas Special]: Post-SP4 Update Rollup released!
This final update pack should be applied to Windows XP installation media immediately after slipstreaming SP4 v3.1b to a Windows XP RTM/SP1/SP2/SP3 source. This will update installation media to May 2019, including every single update released until the POSReady 2009 end-of-life in May 2019. The update rollup can be installed on a live system with SP4 v3.1b, more info available here: viewtopic.php?p=157225#p157225
To integrate this update pack:
1. Download PostSP4-May19-UpdatePack-harkaz-070619.zip from the Post-SP4 Update Pack Cloud folder, link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UvRI6 ... j7Zw4S29Tq
2. Extract zip contents
3. Double click slipstream.bat and follow on-screen instructions (you need to provide the path to the directory containing both CMPNENTS and I386 folders).
4. If you want .NET Framework 3.5 not to be installed by default, after completing steps 1-3: copy and overwrite the netfx35.in_ file in the I386 folder of Windows XP installation media from the PostSP4-May19-UpdatePack-harkaz-070619-NETFX35-OFF.zip file in the Post-SP4 Update Pack Cloud folder (download link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qqx7s ... Yw_YVD9v7c ), OR the istartnetfx35.in_ from the same zip archive only if you are slipstreaming to Windows XP Starter installation source.
Windows XP SP4 Final Update Pack Debugging Symbols Update (original files from Microsoft Symbols Server):
(Also available from the 'Debugging Symbols Update' Cloud folder)
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1T_4BD ... Z-3RNo5U69
UPDATE - 15 OCT 2018:
For novice users that do not want to wait for 20-30 minutes after installing XP SP4 AND rebooting
For all .NET haters...

A NEW RELEASE OF UNOFFICIAL SP4 3.1B WITHOUT .NET FRAMEWORK
This release will not install .NET Framework in both live and slipstreamed install, unless:
- Media Center Edition is used -> .NET Framework 1.1 SP1 is installed
- Tablet PC Edition is used -> .NET Framework 1.0 SP3 is installed
Users can still install .NET FWs of their choice from the Add/Remove Components wizard in Control Panel
This alternative SP4 release is called:
WindowsXP-USP4-v3.1b-NODOTNET-x86-ENU.exe
In addition, XP SP4 OEM Preinstallation Kit ISOs with SCSI drivers, and an updated MUI ISO have been released!
More information can be found at the side notes below.
Removing the POSReady registry hack with XP SP4 OPK:
You should remove the POSReady registry hack, that allows for XP SP4 to receive updates for POSReady 2009, when:
1. You no longer want to receive POSReady updates (e.g. non-SSE2 systems that have been silently dropped by Microsoft since August 2018)
2. You have uninstalled SP4 from your system.
3. You want to use the Product Key modification tool found below - you can reapply the POSReady hack afterwards
4. You want to activate Windows by phone (Internet activation is no longer available) - you can reapply the POSReady hack afterwards.
To achieve this, you have to boot your computer from this ISO: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xTvx6 ... WUdim2Kszu and follow the instructions at this video: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1aunn2 ... Y2TJsEtrGd
March 2016: SP4 v3.1b Release Notes
IMPORTANT NOTICE: All SP4 users running SP4 v3.1a or earlier must delete this registry key to receive the latest WU updates:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlWindowsEmbedded
The sp4_march16_wufix.zip file in Google Drive contains a reg file that will automate the task. Double-click on the reg file, click Yes on the popup message and you're done! Just make sure you have administrative privileges! No further action is needed. SP4 v3.1b is intended only for new installations and removes just this key.

SP4 v3.1b is the final build I intend to release. Thank you all for your support and assistance all these years.
Windows XP official support has ended. Many users - including me - who won't be able to upgrade their old machines to a newer OS would like to easily install all Windows updates in one convenient package. For this reason I started working on a Service Pack 4 package in September 2013.
Windows XP Unofficial SP4 ENU is a cumulative update rollup for Windows XP (x86) English. It can be applied to a live Windows XP system which has SP1, at minimum, installed or it can be slipstreamed (integrated) in any Windows XP installation media.
It includes updates for most Windows XP components, including MCE and Tablet PC. Request-only hotfixes have been included. Currently, Microsoft .NET Frameworks 4.0, 3.5, 1.1 and 1.0 (Tablet PC only) are included in the Windows XP SP4 package. In addition, all post-eol updates for .NET Framework 1.1, 3.5 and 4.0 until January 2016 have been included. The .NET 1.x, 3.5 versions are automatically installed/updated in live installations. Only Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 is enabled by default in integrated installation. Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 will be always installed if Media Center Edition is present.
If you download the WindowsXP-USP4-v3.1b-x86-ENU.exe you can also scan Windows Update for POSReady updates, because the POSReady trick has been included.
Windows XP SP4 security enhancements: Windows XP SP4 includes registry updates to enhance security. I want to thank Stefan Kanthak, a security expert who has kindly given me the necessary information. These security enhancements address issues not fixed by Microsoft updates.
This is an example of security vulnerabilities fixed by Stefan's registry updates: http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2013/Oct/151
Windows XP SP4 Documentation
The Documentation Cloud folder contains all Windows XP SP4 documentation files.
  • - Windows XP SP4 Deployment Guide [folder]: A series of 6 WMV videos discussing some special SP4 installation scenarios.
    - Windows XP SP4 Components Reference: A PDF file containing every update and component included in Windows XP SP4.
    - You can also find HTML copies of the SP4 Release Notes, SP4 Live Installation Instructions and SP4 CD-ROM Installation Instructions. These files are also included in the SP4 installer.
    - What has changed in Version 3.1b (current): http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 144#141144
    - What has changed in Version 3.1a (replaced by 3.1b): http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 710#140710
    - What has changed in Version 3.0 (replaced by 3.1a): http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 574#140574
    - What has changed in Version 2.0 (legacy): http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 710#138710
    - Security Enhancements by GH0st: http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 610#138610
    - SP4 Optional Components explained by Maxtorix: http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 282#141282
    - Alternative 4GB Patch (128 GB RAM limit, December 2019): https://icedrive.net/0/75j2Iu6YDC from http://retrosystemsrevival.blogspot.com ... patch.html
    - How to create 2 650MB CD-ROMs with SP4 slipstreamed for installation on older systems: http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 033#141033
    - Compare USP4 to Onepiece's post-SP3 Update Pack (OPWXPUP):http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 327#137327
    - Legacy (v2) version information: http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 573#140573
NOTE: Before installing SP4 on a system with many post-SP3 updates installed, follow the steps described here (do not restart your PC after applying these steps, just run the SP4 installer and then reboot):
http://www.rarst.net/software/failed-in ... log-files/Windows Xp Professional Service Pack 4 Free Download
This will prevent a common error message: 'Failed to install catalog files'.
Although the SP4 installer takes steps to automatically delete these files, it may require manual intervention in some cases.
ALL SP3 installer-related Knowledge Base Articles apply to SP4 as well.
SIDE NOTES:
1. Windows XP Unofficial SP4 can be used in English only. Howewer, it is possible to translate to other languages using MUI packs.
SP4 v3.1b MUI, updated October 2018: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10321&p=145117#p145117
Legacy info (no longer available for download): http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 755#140755

2. At first reboot after SP4 is installed on a 'live' system, setup will run several .NET-related tasks in the background. This will make your computer temporarily slower and you may unable to install/remove software during that time. It is thus recommended you wait until all pending processes have been completed. This willl take about 20-30 minutes and you can roughly tell by the CPU usage in the Task manager. The on-screen keyboard will not work in TABLET PC EDITION after first reboot. This is normal; it will reappear at next reboot.
3. MS may release new updates for .NET Framework according to http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windows-embedde ... ducts.aspx
Windows XP SP4 v3.1 by default SHOWS .NET Framework 2.0 and 3.0 updates from the Control Panel.
To HIDE these updates run this reg file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7k-l ... Tg2TzJVeTA
4. If you're using .NET Framework 4.0 make sure you run:
%systemroot%Microsoft.NETFrameworkv4.0.30319ngen.exe executequeueditems
every time you install a new update or application for .NET Framework. This will boost system's performance and ensure reliability.
IMPORTANT: There is an issue with post-sp4 .NET FW 4.0 updates I would like to report, which is not caused by the SP4 itself. (Also applies to legacy v2 of Unofficial SP4).
Scenario: Install SP4 -> Enable .NET Framework 4.0-> Run Windows Update Manual Check. -> Install Updates -> reboot -> Installed all updates successfully -> Run Windows Update Manual Check.
You will get the .NET Framework 4 GDR update (KB2468871) in the optional updates.
Reason: This happens because one of the newest updates deletes the:Service
HKLM, 'SOFTWAREMicrosoftUpdatesMicrosoft .NET Framework 4 Client ProfileKB2468871' and
HKLM, 'SOFTWAREMicrosoftUpdatesMicrosoft .NET Framework 4 Extended ProfileKB2468871'registry keys.
These keys are necessary to satisfy the WU detection algorithm for the XP product family (not the POSReady one), but they play no other significant role whatsoever; this is actually a flaw in WU detection algorithm.
SOLUTION: You can let Windows Update download and install the update automatically (it should not be removed afterwards).
5. Apply the patches in patches-v3.1a.zip selectively: The files inside the OC-PATCHES subfolders will change the default installation state of each respective component in slipstreamed install. The files in 4GB_PATCH directory will add support for 4GB+ RAM. You just need to copy-paste the files in a SP4v3-slipstremed installation disk and reinstall Windows.
YOU WILL LOSE THE 4GB+ PATCH IF A FUTURE HAL/KERNEL UPDATE GETS INSTALLED ON YOUR SYSTEM.
To enable .NET Framework 4.0 and other components automatically at Runonce follow Kurt_Aust's instructions here: http://www.ryanvm.net/forum/viewtopic.p ... 756#140756

6. Windows XP SP4 Source Files: These files have been used to build Windows XP SP4 Final (legacy version). They are provided to You under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Download available at the Unofficial SP4 Source Files Cloud Folder.
MD5: 50FF5BB78E7F93C2E219974F382D7EF2
7. Windows XP Debugging Symbols: For the convenience of any developer who would like to test software on Windows XP SP4 or improve the functionality of Windows, I provide a complete list of debugging symbols available for Windows XP SP4 at the Windows XP Debugging Symbols Cloud Folder. Remember that Windows XP SP4 is a retail, not checked build - and cannot be applied to checked builds of Windows XP. (For more information about checked builds visit: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/window ... ifferences). There are 2 files inside that folder:
- symbolsXPUSP4-v3.1_i386_release.7z: Contains all updated symbol files for Windows XP Unofficial SP4 version 3.1b. Symbols files downloaded from Microsoft Symbol Server. Some updated files do not have matching symbols. For these files, you can refer to the original SP3 and MCE 2005 update 2 ones, available for download from the same folder. 7z file content was created using the symchk.exe tool from the Windows 10 Debugging tools kit.
SHA1: 3f374947827c5fa46d4bfe7d2abf58bf042b1130
- mui_winxp_mce_2005_update2_symbols.iso: Contains Media Center 2005 Update 2 Debug symbols. Original ISO from MSDN.
SHA1: 6389aa7334ff226aaba6ff11889b2d7fe01e3db1Windows Xp Professional Service Pack 4 Free Download
Download the SP3 Retail Debug Symbols from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20160730104 ... ll-ENU.exe
- WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-symbols-full-ENU.exe: Contains all Windows XP SP3 Build 5512 Retail debug symbols.

Service Pack 4 Xp


SHA1: 1ca88aa576ccec46f4a561117059ced2f87920dc
8. Windows XP OEM Preinstallation Kit: viewtopic.php?p=145116#p145116

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The Download Now link will take you to the Microsoft store page for Windows 10 Professional.

Editors' Review

Windows 7 is the seventh major release of Microsoft's flagship desktop operating system, released in October 2009 as the next step beyond Windows Vista.

The good: Strong design and Microsoft don't always go together, but they do in Windows 7. Users might take a while to get used to the new taskbar and Aero Peek, but they're a pleasure to use.

The bad: Performance is still hit-or-miss in Windows 7. At the ripe age of seven, Windows XP still performs better in some categories.

The bottom line:

Deserved or not, Microsoft had dug itself a cool, deep, dark hole with Windows Vista. Users demanding that Redmond extend the life of Windows XP wasn't exactly something they could be proud of, either. Bombarded by complaints and negative press even after the first service pack was released, the bar had been set high for Vista's successor: Windows 7. This review is based on an official copy of the Windows 7 RTM that Microsoft provided to CNET on July 30, 2009.

Luckily for Microsoft, Windows 7 is more than just spin. It's stable, smooth, and highly polished, introducing new graphical features, a new taskbar that can compete handily with the Mac OS X dock, and device management and security enhancements that make it both easier to use and safer. Importantly, it won't require the hardware upgrades that Vista demanded, partially because the hardware has caught up, and partially because Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make Windows 7 accessible to as many people as possible.

It's important to note that the public testing process for Windows 7 involved one limited-availability beta and one release candidate, and constituted what some have called the largest shareware trial period ever. As buggy and irritating as Vista was, Windows 7 isn't. Instead, it's the successor to Windows XP that Microsoft wishes Vista had been, and finally places it on competitive footing with other major operating systems like OS X and Linux.

Microsoft is offering six versions of Windows 7: Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, OEM, and Enterprise. The three versions that Redmond will be promoting most heavily are Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate, although Starter will also be available to consumers.

Windows 7 will support both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. The bare minimum requirements for the 32-bit include a 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB available hard-disk space, and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. 64-bit systems will require at least a 1 GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 20GB of free space on your hard drive, and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. A touch-screen monitor is required to take advantage of the native touch features. Do note that some users have claimed to have limited success running the Windows 7 beta with less than 1GB of RAM, but that's not recommended.

Installation
Microsoft is offering several paths to install Windows 7. People can buy a new computer with the operating system already installed, upgrade from Windows XP or Vista, or do a clean install on a computer the user already owns. The clean installation took us about 30 minutes, but that will vary depending on your computer.

The upgrade procedure is different depending on whether you're running Windows XP or Windows Vista. Vista users merely need to back up their data before choosing the Upgrade option from the install disc. Both XP Home and XP Pro users will have to back up their data, then choose Custom from the install disc. Custom will have the same effect as a clean install, although it'll save your old data in a folder called Windows.old. Once you choose Custom, you'll need to select the partition of your hard drive that contains Windows XP, and then follow the instructions to enter your product key and allow the computer to reboot as needed.

If you're not sure if your current computer can run Windows 7, you can download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft.

Features: Taskbar and Aero Peek
Although the look of Windows 7 may seem to be nothing more than some polish applied liberally to the Vista Aero theme, make no mistake: This is a full replacement operating system, and more than just 'Vista done right.' From driver support to multitouch groundwork for the future, from better battery management to the most easy-to-use interface Microsoft has ever had, Windows 7 is hardly half-baked.

The first thing that should stand out is the new taskbar. This is one of the best improvements Microsoft has made--third-party program dock makers are going to have to do some serious innovation when Windows 7 goes public. Besides incorporating the translucent style of Aero, the new taskbar is arguably even better than the Mac OS X dock. It features pinned programs using large, easy-to-see icons. Mouse over one and all windows associated with that program appear in preview. Mouse over one of those preview panes to reveal an X to close the window. Hover over the preview to show a full-size preview of the program, or click on the window to bring it to the front. Because of the button size, people with touch screens should find it especially easy to use.

Jump lists are another new taskbar improvement that make recently opened documents easier to get to. Right-click or left-click and drag on any program icon pinned to the taskbar to see a list of files that you've recently used in that program. In Internet Explorer, this will show recently visited Web sites, although it doesn't yet seem to work in Firefox.

If you've noticed the missing Show Desktop icon, that's because it's been baked into the taskbar itself. Mouse over to the right corner. Hovering over the Show Desktop box reveals the desktop, and then hides it when you mouse away. Click on the box to minimize all your programs.

Resizing programs has been simplified and improved by the capability to drag a window's title bar. Drag a program window to the top of your monitor to expand it to full screen. If you want to work in two windows simultaneously, drag one to the left edge and one to the right edge of your screen, and they'll automatically resize to half the width of your monitor. Dragging a program away from the top or sides will return it to its original size. This is an entirely new feature in Windows 7, but it should prove easy to adopt because it mimics and expands on the maximize/restore button that people have been resizing windows with since Windows 95.

Theme packages also make it much faster to change the look of Windows 7. From the Control Panel, you can change the theme under Appearance and Personalization. Microsoft has created several theme packages to give people a taste for what the feature can do. Click on one to download it, and it instantly changes the color scheme and background--no need to reboot. Users can create their own themes, as well.

Windows Media Player and Device Stage
One of the biggest new features makes Windows Media Player useful again: you can now stream media files from one Windows 7 computer to another, across the Internet and out of network. Even better, the setup procedure is dead simple.

When you open Windows Media Player, there's a new Stream option on the toolbar. Click it, and you're presented with two choices. Both require you to associate your computer with your free Windows Live ID. When you've associated a second Windows 7's WMP with that same ID, you can remotely access the media on the host computer. Windows Media Player's mini mode looks much slicker, emphasizing the album art--sometimes at the expense of clearly seeing the controls, but it's a definite improvement.

The new Device Stage makes managing peripherals significantly easier, combining printers, phones, and portable media players into one window. A large photo of the peripheral summarizes important device stats and makes it easy to identify which devices you're using. Device Stage can also be used to preset common tasks, such as synchronization. Device Stage support for older devices makes one of Windows 7's best features applicable to peripherals and externals that don't need to be upgraded. One annoying change is that Bluetooth driver support no longer comes baked into the operating system. If you need a Bluetooth driver, you'll either need the installation disc on hand or you'll have to go download it.

Search, touch screens, and XP mode
Windows 7's native search feature has been improved. Files added to the hard drive were indexed so fast that they were searchable less than 5 seconds later. Search result snippets now include a longer snippet, and highlight the snippet more clearly. This should appeal specifically to people who juggle large numbers of long documents, but it's a useful feature for anybody who wants to find files faster. However, the search field is available by default only in the Start menu and in Windows Explorer, and cannot be easily added to the taskbar.

Touch-screen features worked surprisingly well. The hardware sometimes misread some of the multitouch gestures, occasionally confusing rotating an image, for example, with zooming in or out of the image. Overall, though, there were few difficulties in performing the basic series of gestures that Microsoft promotes, and this places Windows 7 in an excellent position for the future, as more and more computers are released with multitouch abilities.

Experts and people or companies who hope to use Windows 7 for business situations will appreciate the new XP Mode. It doesn't have much of a practical application for the home consumer, but if you need to access programs designed for Windows XP that have not been upgraded to Windows Vista or 7, XP Mode creates a virtual environment within Windows 7 that should assuage any fears of upgrading without backward compatibility.

It's not easy to set up once you've downloaded the XP Mode installer. You'll need to double-check that you have the right hardware, and can get the right software. Hardware Virtualization Technology, also known as AMD-V, Vanderpool, or VT-d, must be supported for it to work. Motherboards older than two years probably won't work, and even if you do have a newer one you might have to go into your BIOS and activate Hardware Virtualization. CPU-identification utilities are available from Microsoft that can tell you if you're in the clear or not. However, if compatibility is the issue, this hassle will be worth it to you. Users will have full access to peripherals connected to their Windows 7 hardware, including printers, and the clipboard can be used to cut and paste between the virtual operating system and the 'real' one.

Security
User Account Control, or UAC, is back in Windows 7. Microsoft has tweaked the feature so that it's less intrusive, but it's not clear whether that means you're actually more or less secure than you were in Vista. UAC was one of the biggest changes in Vista. It tightened program access, but did it in such a way as to frustrate many owners of single-user computers. Windows 7 provides more options for user customization of UAC.

The default setting is to notify users only when programs try to make changes to the computer, one step below the most restrictive setting of Always Notify. Under Always Notify, anytime a program tries to access the Internet, or you try to make changes to the computer, Windows 7 will require user confirmation. The second-least restrictive option doesn't dim the desktop when UAC is activated, and will only notify the user when programs try to make changes to the computer. When the desktop dims, Windows 7 is locking it down and preventing access. Never Notify is the most relaxed option, and is only recommended by Microsoft for programs that aren't compatible with UAC.

UAC also displays a blue banner when confronted with a program from a known publisher versus a yellow banner and exclamation point when the program is from an unknown publisher. The number of clicks it should take to use UAC safely has been reduced, However, it's important to note that it's a less aggressive default posture by UAC.

A less glitzy, but no less important, change to how removable drives are handled also can affect your media. Unlike Windows XP and Windows Vista, Windows 7 will no longer AutoRun external hard drives and USB keys when they're connected. This kills off a risky vector for malware infections that has been the bane of many security experts.

Although Microsoft is working on a revamp of its antivirus and antimalware program, now called Microsoft Security Essentials, it won't be bundled with Windows 7. Users are still required to download a third-party antivirus and antimalware program, although the Windows Firewall remains intact. As with many features in Windows 7 that have been carried over from Windows Vista, people will notice there's far more granular settings control than before. Features like filtering outbound traffic, which were available in Vista but not exposed, are easier to access in Windows 7.

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Comparing Windows: XP vs. Vista vs. 7
Windows XPWindows VistaWindows 7
Minimum hardware
  • --Processor: 300MHz
  • --RAM: 128MB
  • --Super VGA graphics device
  • --HD: 4.2GB (for SP3)
  • --Processor: 1GHz
  • --RAM: 1GB (32-bit), 2GB (64-bit)
  • --Support for DirectX 9 graphics device with 128MB of memory
  • --HD: 20GB (32-bit), 40GB (64-bit)
  • --Processor: 1 GHz
  • --RAM: 1GB (32-bit), 2GB (64-bit)
  • --Support for DirectX 9 graphics device with 128MB of memory
  • --HD: 16GB (32-bit), 20GB (64-bit)
Interface
  • --Luna theme
  • --Introduces task-based windows options
  • --Skinning possible but difficult
  • --Desktop Cleanup Wizard automates removing old icons
  • --Aero theme
  • --Introduces transparent panes, window animations, live thumbnails of running programs
  • --New desktop sidebar supports gadgets
  • --Supports touch screens
  • --Aero theme
  • --Supports slideshow backgrounds, RSS and theme packs
  • --Introduces Aero Shake and Aero Snap
  • --Desktop gadgets can be placed anywhere
  • --Supports multitouch on touch screens
Explorer
  • --Replaces tree navigation by default with task pane
  • --Improves image handling
  • --Offers thumbnail previews and group views
  • --Supports some metadata
  • --Task pane integrated into toolbar
  • --New breadcrumb navigation
  • --New metadata display
  • --Improved icon resolution
  • --Some documents can be edited from the preview pane
  • --Support for federated searches and libraries
  • --Virtual folders aggregate content from local and networked drives
Start menu
  • --New layout
  • --Devices and some Control Panel options appear in menu
  • --Added search box
  • --All Programs folder changed to a nested format
  • --Configurable power button
  • --User profile picture
  • --Taskbar jumps appear in the Start menu and replace the right column when viewed
  • --Documents, Pictures, Music buttons now link to their libraries
  • --Control Panel options have been integrated into search results
Taskbar
  • --New look
  • --Hideable icons in System Tray
  • --Refreshed look
  • --Alt-Tab hot key now shows preview thumbnail of program
  • --Interactive mouse-over preview panes
  • --Replacement of the Quick Launch bar with pinned programs
  • --Program-specific jump lists based on pinned programs
  • --Aero Peek for mouse-over desktop viewing
  • --Revamped System Tray
Devices
  • --Introduces Universal Plug-n-Play
  • --New driver library allows for downgrading drivers when necessary
  • --Debuts portable device API, designed to communicate with cell phones, PDAs, and portable media players
  • --Introduces Sync Center for managing data synchronizations
  • --New Device Stage provides a centralized, unified window for managing all aspects of printers and portable devices
Misc.
  • --Introduces context-menu CD and DVD burning from Windows Explorer
  • --Supports multiple versions of a single DLL to prevent programs from overwriting each other
  • --Introduces Hibernate and Sleep modes
  • --Remote Desktop for accessing a computer from another location
  • --Fast user account switching
  • --Built-in drive partitioning
  • --More powerful screen-capturing tool
  • --Hybrid Sleep and better configuration options for more nuanced power management
  • --User-based file-type associations
  • --Previous Version automatically backs up changes to individual files
  • --Expands Windows Explorer disc burning to include ISOs
  • --Introduces XP Mode
  • --Expanded options for disabling components
  • --Can search text in scanned TIFF
  • --Additional power-saving features for laptops

Performance
Windows 7 feels faster than Windows XP and Vista, but it turns out that's not always the case--sometimes, it's the slowest out of the three operating systems. CNET Labs tested four 32-bit Windows operating systems: Windows 7 RTM build 7600, Windows 7 Release Candidate build 7100, Windows Vista with Service Pack 2, and Windows XP SP3, all on an Inspiron Desktop 530 Mini Tower running an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E4500 at 2.20 GHz, with a 128MB NVIDIA 8300 GS graphics card, 4GB of RAM, and two 320GB SATA 7,200rpm hard drives.

Microsoft Office Performance (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)







iTunes encoding (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)







Boot time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)




Windows Vista SP2 (32 bit)


Shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)







Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)







Windows Xp Professional Service Pack 4 free download. software

As you can see in the chart, we found that Windows 7 RTM was the fastest to shutdown, and was tied with XP for iTunes encoding. However, it was slower than XP and Vista for both booting up cold by a bit more than 1 second, and slower than either of its predecessors in its Microsoft Office performance. After having used Windows 7 beta, RC, and now the RTM for more than six months combined, it still feels faster for us when launching programs, opening the control panel, and dragging icons, files, and folders around than XP. That's not to denigrate the value of the benchmarks, but keep in mind that the perception and reality might differ based on hardware and usage.

Support
When you try to use a file already in use, Windows 7 goes beyond Vista and XP by telling you not just that it's being used, but where it's being used so you can manage the situation faster. Other than that, Windows 7 offers on-board operating system support nearly identical to Windows Vista. Screen darkening, one-click action hand-holding, and a useful question mark icon on all Explorer windows maintain Vista's improved help features, when compared with Windows XP.

In sum
Windows 7 looks like the operating system that both Microsoft and its consumers have been waiting for. By fixing most of the perceived and real problems in Vista, Microsoft has laid the groundwork for the future of where Windows will go. Windows 7 presents a stable platform that can compete comfortably with OS X, while reassuring the world that Microsoft can still turn out a strong, useful operating system.