Windows 7 will be bringing a bit of XP along for the ride with the news that the next-generation operating system from Microsoft will feature a virtualisation layer for maximum backwards compatibility.
As reported over on CNet
, Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 7 will feature a “Windows XP Mode
” designed to ease the transition between the two operating systems – and avoid some of the major backwards compatibility issues that plagued early adopters of Windows Vista.
Based around Microsoft's Virtual PC technologies, the compatibility mode will be an optional – free, thankfully – download for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate Edition. Users of other – cheaper – editions of Windows 7 will have to do without the backwards compatibility guarantees offered by such a system.
Microsoft's Scott Woodgate has said in a post
to the Windows Team Blog that the functionality is “specifically designed to help small businesses move to Windows 7,
” explaining why the company has decided to concentrate the technology almost exclusively on the business-oriented editions of Windows 7. Woodgate went on to say that “Windows XP mode provides [the user] with the flexibility to run many older productivity applications on a Windows 7 based PC.
Using the compatibility mode – once downloaded – is easy, with Woodgate saying that “all you need to do is install suitable applications directly in Windows XP mode which is a virtual Windows XP environment running under Windows Virtual PC [and then] the applications will be published to the Windows 7 desktop and then you can run them directly from Windows 7,
” just as though they were Windows 7 native.
Although currently released versions of the Windows 7 Beta don't have the Windows XP Mode functionality, Microsoft has stated that a pre-release test version will be made available soon.
Could a virtualised Windows XP environment convince you to upgrade to Windows 7 on release, or should Microsoft just let the old OS die gracefully and convince software developers to embrace the new shiny? Share your thoughts over in the forums