Getting a Small Virtual PC Image – WinXP Pro in 550MB

I find Virtual PC (now free!) incredibly useful!  VPCs are just so great for testing software, control development environments, trying shareware, training courses, etc.  My main system is a laptop with limited HDD space so getting to as small as a VPC as possible (yet still useful) has been a pursuit of mine the last few weeks.

If you've tried, without tweaking, an install of WinXP Pro w/ updates is over 2GB.  Wth all the Windows Updates, I got my WinXP Pro .vhd to 550MB.  That's small enough to fit onto a normal CD or those 1GB USB keys.  I just did a moderate amount of component tweaking (w/ XPlite), it you wanted to, you could probobly get it down another 25 or even 50 MB.

Tools: TweakUI, XPlite ($40), CCleaner, defrag, VM Optimizer

Steps to a Small VPC

  1. Install Windows XP Pro SP2
  2. Install all Windows Updates
  3. Follow steps 3. to 6. (first group) then steps 1, 2, & 3 (second group) in here
  4. Follow steps 1. to 11. (first group) in here
  5. Complete w/ steps 4, 5, 6 (second group) in here

That's it.  You'll have a real small VPC image that can be used as a base image.  Just save the .vhd and make copies whenever you need a new WinXP Pro box.

Thanks to Jeff Atwood and Tolong-lah! for their articles:

Comments (3)

  1. John S says:

    I think the most valuable method of creating small XP virtual machines will be XP Embedded, though I am still waiting for that to take off… Windows CE 6 took a step in that direction by supporting the virtual machine as an emulator.

    There is also the free nLite program for selecting Windows components before creating the installation CD.

  2. Carolin Coad says:


    It sounds like a brilliant idea and a great resource for free. Your instructions are presented clearly.  I especially appreciated your references at the end with the appropriate thanks acknowledged.

  3. Noah Coad says:


    There’s also a lightweight WinXP, Windows Fundamentals, but it’s only avalible to large enterprise customers.

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