Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet
Secret No More: Revealing Windows XP Mode for Windows 7
Over a month ago, we were briefed about a secret
Microsoft technology that we were told would be announced alongside the
Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) and would ship in final form
simultaneously with the final version of Windows 7. This technology,
dubbed Windows XP Mode (XPM, formerly Virtual Windows
XP or Virtual XP, VXP), dramatically changes the compatibility story
for Windows 7 and, we believe, has serious implications for Windows
development going forward. Here's what's happening.
Windows XP Mode running Word 2003 under XP and Word 2007 under Windows 7.
XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site. (That is, it will not be included in the box with Windows 7, but is considered an out-of-band update, like Windows Live Essentials.) XPM works much like today's Virtual PC products, but with one important exception: XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop. Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. (With shortcuts placed in the Start Menu.) That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications (like IE 6) alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop.
Obviously, XPM has huge ramifications for Windows going forward. By removing the onus of legacy application compatibility from the OS, Microsoft can strip away deadwood technology from future versions of Windows at a speedier clip, because customers who need to run older applications can simply do so with XPM. For Windows 7 specifically, XPM is a huge convenience, especially for Microsoft's corporate customers, who can of course control XPM behavior via standard Microsoft administration and management technologies like Active Directory (AD) and Group Policy (GP). And it significantly recasts the Windows 7 compatibility picture. Before, Microsoft could claim that Windows 7 would be at least as compatible as Windows Vista. Now, they can claim almost complete Windows XP compatibility, or almost 100 percent compatibility with all currently running Windows applications.
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