How to run old versions of Windows on Windows 11 with Hyper-V

When I want to try out an obsolete version of Windows I turn to Hyper-V on Windows 11. In this video and guide I show how you can use Hyper-V to run old version of windows like Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP on modern hardware.

There are a few steps you must take to enable older versions of Windows to run on Hyper-V which I will show you in this walkthrough.

Installation Media

Before you can start, you are going to need the installation media. To use with Hyper-V, you are going to need an ISO of the operating system you want to install. Some of the older systems can be found at sites like winworldpc.com which hosts install media for a range of old OS, from Windows 1.x up to Windows 2000. You can even try beta versions of Windows and some more obscure operating systems. Later versions of Windows require a product key which you will need to have to hand during the install.

Setting up Hyper-V

The next thing you are going to need to do is to enable Hyper-V in Windows 11. To enable the Hyper-V, go to Settings, Apps, Optional features.

Click on More Windows features which will bring up the Turn Windows Features on or Off dialog box:

Tick the Hyper-V option and make sure Hyper-V Management Tools and Hyper-V Platform options are checked.

Click OK and Windows 11 will start to install the components.

After a reboot Hyper-V will be installed on your Windows 11 machine. You can then go to search and type Hyper-V, and you should see the Hyper-V management tool.

Now you can start creating your virtual machines.

Creating a retro virtual machine in Hyper-V

This part is more or less the same for all versions of Windows. You will need the install media (ISO files) and a valid product key.

Create a new virtual machine using the wizard in Hyper-V and give it a suitable name.

Select Generation 1 of the machine type.

I found operating systems older than Windows XP prefer not to have dynamic memory so you are going for one of the old systems select the startup memory of 1024MB and turn off Dynamic memory.

The next question on the wizard is the network connection, leave this as Not connected for now.

Operating System ISO

The next step is to create the virtual drive for the guest OS. For operating systems older than XP I found fixed drives work best, for XP and later systems you can continue with the dynamic drives. For older OS I found that a 2GB fixed side VHD files work best.

On the install options screen tick the box to install an operation system from a bootable floppy disk or CD/DVD. Use the browse button to location the ISO file and click Finish. This will create your virtual machine.

The next step is to enable legacy support for the guest OS. So, load up PowerShell (right click on the Start button and select Windows Terminal admin). From the command line type the following command:

Set-VMProcessor VirtualMachineName -CompatibilityForOlderOperatingSystemsEnabled $true

Now you can start up your virtual machine by going into Hyper-V manager, right clicking and selecting Start. Double click on the virtual machine and it will bring up the virtual machine version.

Network access

For the 32bit systems from Windows NT3.51 and up to Windows 7 you need to use a legacy network adapter rather than the default network adaptor. So go to Hyper-V Manager and select the settings for your VM (right click). In the settings select the Network Adapter and click Remove to remove the adapter.

Then go to Add Hardware and select Legacy Network Adapter.

Select the network switch you created during the setup of Hyper-V. If you do these steps you should be able to get Windows NT4, Windows 2000 etc connected to the internet. Remember when connecting an old version of Windows to the internet be careful as they were not known for their security.

Now you can fire up your virtual machine and it should boot from the ISO you selected. You can then go through guest’s OS installation.

That’s it you should be able to run Windows NT 3.51, Windows NT4, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. More modern systems that work fine are Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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