If you've ancient software that won't work under Windows 7 then in
theory you can use XP Mode, a virtual machine with an installation of
Windows XP that should be more successful. In practice, however, it
doesn't always work out that way.
Problem 1 is XP Mode requires hardware support from the CPU. The Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool can check your system to see if it's compatible.
Problem 2 is the feature must be enabled in the BIOS. Microsoft has some instructions,
but essentially you just need to browse your BIOS setup program looking
for an AMD-V, Intel VT or VIA VT virtualisation setting and ensure it's
Unfortunately problem number 3 is that some laptop
manufacturers have previously disabled this setting for "security"
reasons. Sony Vaios had the feature turned off for a while, for
instance, prompting some to recommend ways in which you can edit their firmware to restore the setting,
although Sony seems to have restored it recently. If hardware
virtualisation is turned off on your system then check with the
manufacturer - a BIOS upgrade may fix the problem.
And if all else fails, just use a package like VirtualBox
that doesn't insist on hardware support. You will need to provide a
licenced copy of XP (or whatever other version you want to use) to
install on it, though.