Enable Internet Access to Windows XP VM (VirtualBox 5)

Microsoft Windows XP is an old operating system that has reached the end of its support from Microsoft. But if you’re still required to run it, then the best way to do so is to execute it on a virtual machine.

I completely switched to ‘Linux‘ about a year ago and personally, and starting very recently, I wanted to run Windows XP because I have to use a couple of applications that’re only designed to run in Windows, and for a couple of months I’ve been using my licensed Windows 8.1 in a virtual machine on Ubuntu 15.10 just for the sake of running those applications. But my laptop only has 4 GB of RAM and when using Windows 8.1 virtual machine (I use VirtualBox and have allocated 1.4 GB of RAM for Windows 8.1) alongside my web browser with 8-12 tabs opened in Ubuntu 15.10, it really slows things down due to the heavy memory usage.

So recently I switched to a Windows XP virtual machine to see if I can counteract this somehow. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and with just a 700 MB RAM, XP runs great!. Sure it’s an outdated and a bit ugly looking operating system, but I just use it for the sake of running my applications. I can’t really complain. However, being old, Windows XP also has an outdated hardware driver support. Therefore, unlike with Windows 8.1, you won’t be able to connect to the Internet without first making a couple of changes in VirtualBox. So in this article I’ll share with you what I did to enable internet access to Window XP virtual machine under VirtualBox, hoping that someone may find it useful. And even though I used Ubuntu 15.10 as the host, these instructions should work despite what operating system you’ll be utilizing to act as the host.

Windows XP virtual machine running on Ubuntu 15.10 Host (VirtualBox 5) without internet access

What we’ll be doing is simple. First we have to change the network setting of VirtualBox for the Window XP VM. And then we have to download the network adapter driver through the Host operating system, share it with the VM, and install it on the Windows XP VM. Afterwards, Windows XP will be able connect to the internet. It’s pretty simple. So let’s do it.

Step 1: First of all, if you’re already running the Window XP virtual machine, then turn it OFF. Then from the VirtualBox VM manager window, select the Windows XP VM and click on the Settings icon.

Step 2: Then click on the Network tab, and make sure you’ve selected ‘NAT‘ under Attached to: option. Then click on Advanced, and under ‘Adapter Type‘, make sure you’ve selected Intel Pro/1000 MT Desktop(...). Below that, the ‘Cable Connected‘ option should also be checked.

Enabling correct settings for enabling internet access for Windows XP VM - VirtualBox 5

Step 3: If you’ve already setup a shared folder for the Windows XP VM you can simply click on the ‘OK’ button and move on to Step 4. Otherwise, don’t click on the ‘OK’ button just yet, and click on the Shared Folders icon instead.

From the window to your right, click on the small folder icon with the green cross to add a shared folder.

Adding a shared folder to the Windows XP VM (VirtualBox 5)

You can share any folder with the virtual machine. I’ve shared my ‘Home’ folder (which is the equivalent of ‘My Documents’ in Windows) with the VM and since I should be able to write to the shared folder from the VM, I make sure to uncheck ‘Read-only‘ option and check the ‘Auto-mount‘ option so that the folder gets mounted every time the virtual machine boots up. You can also changed the name of the mounted folder as well (by default VirtualBox uses the shared folder’s name).

Step 4: Now download the Intel Pro/1000 MT Ethernet adapter driver from this page (there are two drivers. One for the 32-bit version of Windows XP, & the other is for the 64-bit version) using the Host operating system. Once the download finishes, copy it over to the shared folder.

Step 5: Now turn ON the Windows XP virtual machine. Once it finishes booting, open My Computer and you should see the shared folder mounted there. Now locate the downloaded Intel Ethernet adapter installer and install it (when unsure, My Computer showing the shared folder (Windows XP VM - VirtualBox 5)just go with the default selection of the installer).

Now open up the web browser and you should be able to access internet. If not, reboot the virtual machine. That’s it. Good luck.

P.S: (if you’ll be browsing internet often through the Windows XP VM, then replace the old IE with Firefox or Google Chrome).

12 thoughts on “Enable Internet Access to Windows XP VM (VirtualBox 5)

  1. I downloaded the file and shared it with my virtual system. I opened the application while running Windows XP in Virtual Box. It says “This package is not supported on this system or operating system” Can you please help me

    • Hi Mike,

      Maybe you downloaded a driver that is not compatible with Windows XP. Try downloading it again, this time make sure it’s designed to run on XP.

      • I initially got a message saying “This package is not supported on this system or operating system”. However, it turned out that I needed the 32-bit driver, even though the host machine is 64-bit.
        Thanks for the very clear step-by-step instructions.

  2. I went through every step, but when I start the virtual machine and go to my computer the folder (from the host) that I selected to share with the virtual machine didn’t show up. No matter what folder I choose to share, it wouldn’t show up. What am I doing wrong? Is it because my host system is Windows 10?

  3. Disregard, I think it’s sorted. I simply reinstalled the driver and it worked. What through me off was the fact that I couldn’t complete online Windows XP registration. I assumed it was lack of connectivity, until I saw Windows updates kick off.

    Thanks for the tutorial!

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