ogri.me | Migrating Windows 2000 / XP to a VMWare virtual machineStarting position: there is an old computer with Win2K on board. Some ancient and hard-to-get programs are installed on it. Their installation disks had been lost long ago, so they cannot be reinstalled on a new operating system, and their compatibility with even WinXP is in doubt. In addition there is the newly obtained machine with cool i7 processor and pre-installed Windows 7. Objective: to get rid of that old computer, retaining the old programs with all their settings.


1. Migrating Win2K as a second system to the new computer with multiboot. Create a new logical drive, clone Win2K on it, install a boot manager on Win7 (eg, free EasyBCD), solve the problem of compatibility with the SATA AHCI and other drivers. Undoubted disadvantage of this option is the need to unload each OS to run another one, and it's provided that drivers for a very old system on modern hardware are found. And also the installation of a SATA controller drivers using Intel Matrix Storage is still dancing with a tambourine, and not the fact that it will go through.

2. Porting to a virtual machine. In my opinion - the best option. But it may encounter pitfalls, and this article is devoted to the matter how to overcome all of them.

I've been using VMWare Workstation and consider it very good tool. The benefits of virtual machines are well known - the presence of multiple operating systems (clients) on a single physical computer (host) with simultaneous use of them and the host, network connection between themselves and the physical machines and sharing host's resources, devices and ports. I've also tried Virtual PC and VirtualBox, but stopped at VMWare - it seemed most convenient. In addition, there is VMWare Player - a free version of VMWare Workstation with slightly truncated functionality. Therefore, I will describe the process of migration to VMWare.

At the time, I have successfully transferred the Windows XP on VMWare machine using VMWare Converter. However, in this case, several different versions of the converter failed with conversion error. So, I had to find some unconventional solution.

The process described below is suitable for migration Win2K as well as WinXP.

Disclaimer: all done by you at your own risk. In the event of a material or moral damage the author puts his hands in his pocket ;))

So: the host - a new PC running Windows 7 64 bit, straight from the tin (at the time of writing) VMWare Workstation 8.0.2 it installed. What else to have before the process:

1. Utility to create and restore the image and clone partitions and disks (Acronis True Image, Symantec Norton Ghost (both are commercial), Clonezilla (free), etc.). I've used the first one, and for brevity I will call it just "Acronis".

2. Windows 2000 or XP installation (CD or ISO-image) - to work with Recovery Console.

3. Floppy image with the SCSI driver for VMWare (available for downloading here or here).

4. Update KB835732 (Microsoft online: Win2K - English, Russian; WinXP - English, Russian).

5. External USB HDD (if while transferring system (step 3) you are using method 1) or IDE to USB adapter or enclosure (method 2).

Step by step:

1. Preparing Win2K to transfer.

a. Make sure SP4 is installed. Does not hurt to install all other updates.

b. Download KB835732 proper for your OS and copy it to the root (or other easily accessible folder) of the system disk.

2. Creating a new virtual machine. Choose Windows 2000 Professional on a suggestion to select the operating system for the VM (Select a Guest Operating System). When asked about the maximum amount of disk I set 40 GB as such was the size of the physical disk with Win2K, and it was filled with more than two-thirds. The rest of the settings may stay default. After reaching the screen Ready to Create Virtual Machine, click the button Customize Hardware... and change the type of New CD/DVD from the default IDE to SCSI. If you leave IDE, the system won't mount the virtual CD/DVD needed to install VMWare Tools after the first successful run. Later after installing the VMWare Tools, and, accordingly, all virtual drivers, you can change the type back to IDE.

3. Transfer content of the physical disk to the VM virtual disk. There are several ways:

Method 1:

a. Use Acronis to create image of the physical disk with Win2K and copy the image to an external USB drive. Plug this drive to the host.

b. Start the virtual machine from a CD or Acronis image, and in the menu VM > Removable Devices find our external drive and click the submenu Connect (Disconnect from Host). The disk will now be recognized by Akronis.

If Acronis is booted from ISO-image, this image must be on a disk other than that connected external drive, because we are disconnecting it from the host.

c. Restore the image to a virtual disk.

Method 2:

a. Remove the original hard drive from the old computer, connect it as an external (via adapter or enclosure) to the host.

b. The same steps as in part b of Method 1.

c. Clone the content of the physical disk (or move only necessary partitions) to the virtual disk.

The first method only requires an external drive (or even a big and quick stick, that is not unusual in our time). If you don't have an IDE to USB adapter or lazy to dismount the original drive, it's preferred. And additional system backup can not hurt. Disadvantage: if the old computer only has USB1.1, the process of image creating might be long. Well, run it on the night!

Chance is a third way - to work directly with a physical disk from the VM. Dismount the disc from the old machine, connect it to the host as either internal or external, and mount as virtual in the VM. This method is more tedious, since the letters of all partitions should be removed before mounting to prevent concurrent access to the disk of the host and VM, and at the very mounting - identify disk in the list of species like PhysicalDrive0, PhysicalDrive1 etc. If it came to remove the drive, the second method of transfer would have been better. This third way - only for those who have no place on the new computer (the host), and who is going to run a VM with a physical disk constantly.

4. Running a virtual machine - the system goes into BSoD with the message:

Inaccessible boot device.

This happens due to the fact that the disk in VM is connected to a virtual SCSI controller, and the system has no appropriate driver. You can solve this problem by replacing the IDE atapi.sys driver file with a file having the same name, but containing a virtual SCSI controller driver for VMWare. This trick will cheat the system at boot time by putting the right driver with a name corresponding to the settings in the registry.

a. Insert Win2K/WinXP installation disk in the CD/DVD-ROM and specify CD/DVD setting to use physical drive, or mount the ISO image of this disk to the virtual machine's drive. Mount floppy image of SCSI driver for VMWare into the virtual floppy drive. Check the checkboxes Connect at power on in the Device status section for both of the above virtual devices.

b. Start VM from CD/DVD (assign boot sequence in BIOS of virtual machine once and for all, or else press Esc after powering on the VM and select CD-ROM drive). The process of Windows installation will start. Open Recovery Console, choose our system, and the system folder C:\WINDOWS or C:\WINNT will appear in the command prompt. Type the following code:

del atapi.sys
copy a:\vmscsi.sys atapi.sys

You can skip the second line, then agree to overwrite the existing atapi.sys.

All of the above applies to the case when the old drive is of IDE type. If it is connected to the SCSI or SATA controller, atapi.sys could not be used. Need to determine, which file contains driver of the controller of your disk type and replace it with vmscsi.sys. Recovery Console command LISTSVC that produces a list of system services can help to identify the driver file. It must be treated in the category Boot (2nd column).

c. Restart the VM by typing exit at the command line. This time the system is booting successfully.

It is worth noting that the system after its startup replaces the fake IDE driver back with the original one, so in case of rebooting without installing the driver VM SCSI controller, the blue screen comes back. That's why I rejected all offers of the system to manually install drivers and to reboot and in the first place installed the driver of SCSI Controller in Device Manager from the same floppy. Now reboot is not fraught with the blue screen, and the system starts up successfully (but still had to reboot once, as below). If you accidentally restarted VM and got BSoD again - repeat Step 4.

5. Installing VMware Tools. Run - and get this message:

Microsoft Runtime DLLs cannot be installed on this operating system. Please see Microsoft KB835732 for details.

Install update KB835732, reboot (now you can), and VMware Tools are being installed without problems. Hooray, we have successfully moved into a virtual machine!

By the way, not the fact that a similar problem with the installation of VMware Tools will pop up in your case. Especially if, as I mentioned at the beginning, all the updates were installed in the original system before the transfer. Nevertheless, have KB835732 at hand, and it is desirable - right on the drive for easy access.

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