While this is no longer possible with Windows Activation Technologies in Win 7, Windows XP allows using Hardware Profiles for a shared installation that can be run either physically or virtually (e.g. using the KVM virtualization stack built into recent Linux kernels, which is a lot more convenient than VMWare Player with its kernel module dependencies, at the price of 3D graphics acceleration).
The recommended sequence for such a setup:
- Install Windows XP physically (where applicable, using the IDE mode of your SATA host controller)
- Create a second Hardware Profile for virtualization, reboot using that new Hardware Profile and let hardware detection run its course
- Swap the hard disk controller drivers to VirtIO (for KVM) and AHCI (if you have a SATA host controller, that is)
The knack is to install the VMWare SCSI driver (included with VMWare Tools) before
booting the SATA or PATA harddisk and then to configure it in the VMX config file as follows:
scsi0:0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0:0.fileName = "win_raw.vmdk"
scsi0:0.deviceType = "rawDisk"
scsi0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0.virtualDev = "buslogic"