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Windows 7's XP Mode (shown here running Internet Explorer 7 seamlessly next to Windows 7's IE 8) brings improved compatibility with legacy software. This can be hand for business users, PC gamers, and penny-pinchers alike. The newly integrated virtual machine also helps protect Windows 7 computers against attacks.  (Source: Windows SuperSite)
One of Windows 7's most talked about features gets finalized

Windows 7 is shaping up to be a dynamic release.  With many aggressive pricing options such as cheaper OEM prices and student discounts, the new release aims to please.

When debating what version to buy, one of the most compelling features of the Professional and Ultimates versions is Windows XP Mode.  XP Mode runs using Microsoft's Virtual PC software, but unlike many virtual machines, it blends unobtrusively into your desktop, with XP-compatibility Windows happily living alongside Windows 7 windows, with no obtrusive differences.

Microsoft made an exciting announcement yesterday -- the Windows XP Mode has finally hit RTM (Windows 7 hit RTM several weeks ago.).  The finalized version close resembles the Windows XP Mode Release Candidate, which aired in August.

For business users, XP Mode provides an innovative way to remove the headache of software compatibility.  With it, virtually any software that can run on Windows XP, can run within Windows 7.

For home users, the new feature is equally exciting, giving many their first taste of the benefits of virtualization.  Not only can it help them save on software costs, by running older versions of Office software or other programs, it can also allow them to play games that would run within Windows XP, but had trouble running within Windows Vista.  For fans of PC gaming, this is a welcome feature.

The virtual machine also helps to protect computers from online attackers when running.  Many attacks exploit virtualization features as a foothold to launch attacks from.  When XP Mode is running, its much harder to launch such attacks, though its still strongly recommended that you run security software, such as Microsoft's free Security Essentials inside both the virtual machine and Windows 7.

The final release of XP Mode, will arrive concurrently with the release of Windows 7 on October 22.  It will be available for download from the Microsoft Download Center for users with Professional or Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

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Home Users
By Syran on 10/2/2009 12:27:36 PM , Rating: 5
For home users, the new feature is equally exciting, giving many their first taste of the benefits of virtualization. Not only can it help them save on software costs, by running older versions of Office software or other programs, it can also allow them to play games that would run within Windows XP, but had trouble running within Windows Vista. For fans of PC gaming, this is a welcome feature.

How many home users will be running Professional or Ultimate however?

RE: Home Users
By Brandon Hill on 10/2/2009 12:29:35 PM , Rating: 2
Gamers who want Ultimate.

RE: Home Users
By webdawg77 on 10/2/2009 12:36:39 PM , Rating: 5
Gaming in XP Mode via Virtual PC? This doesn't sound very appealing to me (gamer).

RE: Home Users
By Brandon Hill on 10/2/2009 12:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
The question was what home users would be wanting Professional or Ultimate. My response was that hardcore gamers typically choose Ultimate.

They normally pick up OEM copies on the cheap.

RE: Home Users
By HrilL on 10/2/2009 1:14:56 PM , Rating: 5
I'd say they go with Ultimate more likely because they never paid for it in the first place. Not saying all gamers don't pay for windows but almost every gamer I know sure doesn't. When you're installing it for free you're going to use the best version on the market.

Just my 2 cents

RE: Home Users
By jonmcc33 on 10/2/2009 2:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
BitLocker is one of the reasons I would PAY for Windows 7 Ultimate. You can encrypt external USB hard drives with it. Worth the price in my book.

RE: Home Users
By DEVGRU on 10/2/2009 4:11:48 PM , Rating: 3
I'm running the OEM RTM x64 Pro (free from work), and I was looking forward to messing around with the XP mode. After I downloaded and intalled the XP VM, I found out it didnt support any 3D modes.

The XP VM comes set up as a having a "S3/Trio" graphics adapter, which as we all know isn't a graphics powerhouse (read: yay! 1024x768 in 32bit color, and nothin else).

I just got a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate from a Microsoft Win 7 launch event, but the media is only 32bit - so it looks like I'll wait to get my hands on x64 media to actually install it.

Anyways, I hope the XP mode "RTM" will have full 3D support so I can use my 275 GTX properly. /crosses fingers.

RE: Home Users
By TomZ on 10/2/2009 5:09:53 PM , Rating: 4
Anyways, I hope the XP mode "RTM" will have full 3D support so I can use my 275 GTX properly.
Cross your fingers all you want, it's not in the cards, hate to break it to you.

RE: Home Users
By TSS on 10/2/2009 4:24:34 PM , Rating: 5
I'll add my 2 cents as well ^^

I got a legit vista x64 while beeing a hardcore gamer. only for 2 reasons:

1. Appearantly the more you spend on a PC the less options you have. All i could choose was vista ultimate, and x64 at that (but that has to do with the 6GB of DDR3).

2. The last legit OS i had was windows 98 which i said farewell to in late 2002. All that time, downloading and redownloading windows, finding serials, cracks past the genuine advantage, the lack of patches... It gets tiresome.

It's great when your a kid and on a tight budget. Save 300 bucks, get better hardware, the PC'll last longer, means a new one can be bought later. But these days with hardware so cheap (and having my own income helps) i don't think i'd ever pirate windows again. I simply don't have to.

RE: Home Users
By ReblTeen84 on 10/3/2009 2:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'd have to agree with that. I either got windows through my dads company or through school...never paid for it. Got XP from a friend, that was a mistake. Getting past activation, then having to do it again after they blocked you from updates. Finally got a copy from school and installed that. Bought an upgrade copy of Vista Ultimate through work with the discount..absolute worst mistake i've ever made. Home Premium ran ok on my laptop when I got my new one, but ultimate was total crap. Bought a subscription to TechNet, wiped vista and installed 7 ultimate 64...haven't looked back.

RE: Home Users
By mixpix on 10/4/2009 4:37:03 PM , Rating: 2
When I put together my own $600 computer with my own money, I just had unlegit 98 then XP (not a lot of money then). But then I learned about OEM and I bought XP and then Vista. For the first time I will be getting an upgrade version for Windows 7. But if Microsoft hadnt had the half price deal then I would have been going OEM again.

RE: Home Users
By Xenokyn on 10/2/2009 1:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
I play games on the PC exclusively, I don't plan on owning any consoles. I have pre-ordered the x64 Professional Retail version of 7 instead of the OEM, so I don't have to jump through hoops if I do a major upgrade to this PC.

My question is, what type of games will will need or run better in virtualized XP mode than in native Windows 7?

RE: Home Users
By Mitch101 on 10/2/2009 1:58:14 PM , Rating: 4
You dont need to run any games in Virtualized XP.

If its an old game like Starcraft (Direct X6) Right click go to properties of the exe Run it in 256 color mode and then turn off the auto changing screen saver otherwise your colors get messed up about an hour later.

Im running a number of old games and apps and while I have Virtualized XP mode I havent found anything that I need to run in it that doesnt run in Windows 7. Im running x64 version for the record.

For anyone who is concerned just dual boot the PC between XP and 7. Till your comfortable with Windows 7.

RE: Home Users
By The0ne on 10/2/2009 3:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
That dual boot isn't simple after the release of RTM (7600). The bootloader is gone. You can Google on how to get it working now with BCD but boy did it take a while for many of us to have a workaround. I hear some are still having issues even with BCD, I know I initially did. Here's a link to one process that works with RTM,

I haven't run into any issues with older games/apps except for a few. These refuse to run even under XP compatability mode. Co-workers and I stopped trying afterwards. One of the program is called...hmm..forgetting names...Imageview I believe.

Unless MS improved the virtual PC tone down version of XP SP3 I would recommend the majority of you to run VirtualPC, Virtualbox and VMWare instead. It's much faster, you have your complete OS, and compatibility "should" be higher. I say should because obviously I don't test all software nor even have them.

RE: Home Users
By afkrotch on 10/3/2009 4:58:12 AM , Rating: 3
5 1/4 bay hot swappable drive enclosures. Easy fix.

RE: Home Users
By freeman70 on 10/3/2009 10:23:01 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Most home users should buy Home Premium and run a separate virtual machine. I would suggest using virtualbox instead of the others. It is free and supports Direct X for older 3D games if you install the guest additions addon. It is also fairly easy to set up. They say 3D support is only experimental but I have been using it for a month and I haven't had any trouble running anything I have tried. Then again, you will only need to use it if you can't get a particular game to run in compatibility mode. For DOS stuff, just use DOSBOX.

RE: Home Users
By bryanW1995 on 10/2/2009 3:19:35 PM , Rating: 1
what kind of hoops are you planning to jump through during an upgrade? It takes 5 minues with the oem version.

RE: Home Users
By bubbastrangelove on 10/2/2009 4:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
Just last night I was running Silent Hunter III on Win7 Ultimate with no problems at all. I did however have to adjust the screen resolution but outside that everything was aces.

If anyone is interested - the Bismark is still alive and well.

RE: Home Users
By croc on 10/3/2009 9:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
32 bit or 64 bit? I can't get it to run under 64 bit, so if you did I'd be interested to know how.

RE: Home Users
By thurston on 10/2/2009 8:58:18 PM , Rating: 2
Those hoops you mention are a five minute phone call.

RE: Home Users
By dagamer34 on 10/2/2009 2:48:41 PM , Rating: 1
Gamers chose Windows Vista Ultimate because Microsoft decided not to make Windows Vista Business a superset of the media functionality found in Windows Vista Home Premium. Thankfully they learned from that foolish decision such that the only real benefits that Windowsi 7 Ultimate gets over Windows 7 Professional is Bitlocker and Bitlocker-to-go. And that's the reason why they're not advertising Windows 7 Ultimate that heavily either (especially on OEM PCs).

Regardless, unless you're playing on playing old-school games that were from the pre-XP era, no gamer is going to bother using XP Mode for actual gaming. I think they are smarter than that to know that running an OS inside an OS doesn't provide maximum performance.

RE: Home Users
By jabber on 10/3/2009 7:35:02 AM , Rating: 3
Real 'hardcore gamers' (and I mean hardcore, not the triple SLI moneyed boys that run benchies all day) would choose Home Basic.

Why would you want the Ultimate bloat version if you want the best performance?

Unless you want to run more than 8GB then Basic will give you the leanest setup.

RE: Home Users
By Murloc on 10/3/2009 5:03:25 AM , Rating: 2
age of empires II does the nuclear colors on vista and 7.
With this mode maybe we can keep playing it maybe, or even play it online in lan (which doesnt work with vista)

it's meant for old and light games so it isn't an issue.

If you are a gamer you have a powerful pc, and don't mind getting the ultimate version.

RE: Home Users
By johnsonx on 10/3/2009 1:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
The fix for Age of Empires II is fairly easy, though a minor headache. Once you've launched the game, bring up the Task Manager and kill explorer.exe, then alt-tab back into the game. The colors will now be normal. When you're finished, exit the game and bring back Task Manager, go to File->New Task (Run) and type explorer.exe. Explorer re-loads, and all is well.

RE: Home Users
By Silver2k7 on 10/3/2009 9:31:55 AM , Rating: 3
most xp games work in vista and presumably seven.

its the older dos/win95/win98 games that have trouble in the new environment. I dont see much of a point in xp emulation for gaming.

Maybe some old abandoned office application could use it.. but for gaming doesn't sound very useful.

RE: Home Users
By Syran on 10/2/2009 12:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
Gamers who want Ultimate.

Only reason I bought Vista Ultimate was for MCE & Domain abilities in the same package. I run a domain at home for testing purposes, as well as making logins much easier.

I honestly don't see much from Ultimate for gamers. The basic features it adds are bitlocker & multiple language support.

RE: Home Users
By Morphine06 on 10/2/2009 1:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
He means the mentality of gamers. They want the "ultimate" version just to post in their in signatures so they can say they have the "best" version despite never understanding or using its features.

RE: Home Users
By KeithP on 10/2/09, Rating: 0
RE: Home Users
By Dfed on 10/2/2009 12:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
What about win-7 64 bit users. Will running the XP mode downgrade your 64bit system to run in 32bit mode?

RE: Home Users
By TomZ on 10/2/2009 1:09:39 PM , Rating: 3
No, just the apps you run in the XP VM will be running in 32-bit. The rest of the Win7 OS runs 64-bit as you might expect.

I'm also thinking that XP mode is limited to 32-bit - there is no support for 64-bit - can anybody confirm this?

RE: Home Users
By kattanna on 10/2/2009 1:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
the beta version was.

worked great. though.. i doint know about gaming as it saw my 9600GT as integrated graphics

RE: Home Users
By VaultDweller on 10/2/2009 1:47:13 PM , Rating: 2
Gaming is out. This is a virtual machine. Virtualization software doesn't see your 9600GT as integrated graphics - it sees it for what it is, but no matter what video you have, it always presents it to the virtual guest (XP in this case) as the same basic video chip.

That is the nature and one of the main points of virtualization. You don't want to your virtual machine to look like the host machine - you want it to look like basic hardware that is universally supported, and you want it to always look the same no matter what machine you run it on.

RE: Home Users
By omnicronx on 10/2/2009 3:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
3D acceleration is not impossible in a virtualized environment. I've done it in nix with VMware, although it required changes to the host and client, but its not impossible. If XP mode were based on HyperV this may have been possible, alas its based on the old Virtual PC 2007, with absolutely no chance of 3d support.

RE: Home Users
By Dfed on 10/2/2009 1:21:32 PM , Rating: 2
tomshardware just posted an article today on their front page about xp mode. I have not read it yet, but hopefully it will help you out.

RE: Home Users
By xprojected on 10/2/2009 1:34:51 PM , Rating: 5
"One of the key features left out of Windows XP mode is virtualized access to the physical graphics cards. In other words, there’s no hardware-accelerated 3D in Windows XP mode, so no 3D games will run unless they’re much older games that shipped with a software 3D renderer."

That's all I needed to know.. looks like I'll live with dual-boot instead.

RE: Home Users
By danihell on 10/2/2009 1:46:49 PM , Rating: 2

I have Windows 7 RC1 on my computer and the XP Mode recognize my graphics card as a microsoft generic video device.

RE: Home Users
By Xenokyn on 10/2/2009 1:55:47 PM , Rating: 3
(Myself)I play games on the PC exclusively, and don't plan on owning any consoles. I have pre-ordered the x64 Professional Retail version of 7 instead of the OEM. That way if I do a major upgrade to this PC, or build a new PC and want to transfer my copy of 7, I won't have to jump through the hoops inherent to an OEM copy.

My question is, what type of games will need or run better in virtualized XP mode than in native Windows 7?

The above comment answers my question pretty definitively: Games I would have no interest in playing. Looks like XP Mode is more for non-game apps.

RE: Home Users
By jonmcc33 on 10/2/2009 3:32:32 PM , Rating: 1
Considering that the Windows XP Mode VM is limited to 512MB RAM I don't see why they would use a 64-bit VM instead. Windows XP Mode is all about compatibility and not features like 64-bit would bring.

RE: Home Users
By TomZ on 10/2/2009 5:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think there is a 512MB limit. The suggested default size is 512MB, but you can change it AFAIK.

RE: Home Users
By Silver2k7 on 10/3/2009 9:35:07 AM , Rating: 2
why would there be a 512MB limit? shoudn't it be more like 3GB or whatever xp 32-bit was capable of using.

RE: Home Users
By adiposity on 10/2/2009 12:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
I am already running ultimate (MSDN)


RE: Home Users
By omnicronx on 10/2/2009 3:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares, this is not made for home users, its going to be marketed as a migration tool. I'm not saying home users can't take advantage, but they are not the primary focus of this software.

This article is also misleading, XP Mode does not support 3d acceleration. So unless you are playing DOS games that you could play in XP but not Vista, its not a gaming solution.

RE: Home Users
By Silver2k7 on 10/3/2009 9:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
I wish MS would provide a DOS and Win98 modes instead.. that would be so much more interessting for playing old games in.

RE: Home Users
By rs1 on 10/2/2009 3:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
I will, because it's a free pull from my MSDN subscription.

RE: Home Users
By friedrice on 10/3/2009 1:32:52 AM , Rating: 2
I imagine a lot of people. Overall it's nice to see an actual useful feature be included in Ultimate that you can't get in other versions. In the past the differences have been mainly graphical or features you could get from 3rd party. Sure there is other virtual software out there, but it sounds like Microsoft has nailed it here.

Of course, I'm getting my copy of Win7 Ultimate for free since I'm hosting a Windows 7 Party. Thank you Microsoft :D

RE: Home Users
By afkrotch on 10/3/2009 4:47:17 AM , Rating: 2
For gamers, tons of ppl. I'm usually rocking the Pro versions. WinNT, Win2k Pro, WinXP Pro, and WinVista Business.

I don't really care for Ultimate, as it has a bunch of crap that I don't want. Like the Media PC stuff.

Do some research ...
By xyn081s on 10/2/2009 1:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
...before you post an article like this, please. This is a quote from Tom's hardware article about Win XP mode:


Bad news for gamers: one of the key features left out of Windows XP mode is virtualized access to the physical graphics cards. In other words, there’s no hardware-accelerated 3D in Windows XP mode, so no 3D games will run unless they’re much older games that shipped with a software 3D renderer.

So, how is this supposed to be for gamers??

RE: Do some research ...
By stmok on 10/2/2009 2:18:18 PM , Rating: 5
It isn't. XP Mode was never intended for gaming.

3D acceleration in a guest OS won't happen until virtualisation of IO is completely supported by hardware (CPU), software (virtualisation application), and drivers.

This is what Intel's VT-d and AMD's AMD-Vi are for.

We are only seeing the initial implementations of it...

(1) Parallels Workstation Extreme (Full hardware 3D acceleration virtualised)

(2) VMware VMDirectPath and Intel VT-d (Direct access to NIC from guest OS)

(3) RedHat and LSI (Direct access of RAID card from guest OS)

There's a long while to go before we see full 3D acceleration (guest OS directly accessing hardware) at a consumer level...The one in (1) is an expensive workstation platform!

RE: Do some research ...
By xyn081s on 10/2/2009 2:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I know. But this article suggests it is. That's why I put that quote there.

RE: Do some research ...
By xprojected on 10/2/2009 2:57:32 PM , Rating: 1
No it doesn't. Where in the article does it mention gaming?

RE: Do some research ...
By xprojected on 10/2/2009 2:59:54 PM , Rating: 1
OK, it does, never mind, don't know how I missed it.

RE: Do some research ...
By The0ne on 10/2/2009 3:03:26 PM , Rating: 3
It's going to be a LONG while imo. Jason should have known better.

RE: Do some research ...
By Visual on 10/6/2009 4:21:41 AM , Rating: 2
Parallels Workstation Extreme works with having a separate dedicated GPU that is reserved for the guest OS and not used by the host.
I guess your other examples also work similarly, requiring that the corresponding hardware be used exclusively from the guest, but they are quite irrelevant anyway as they are not even related to graphics.

RE: Do some research ...
By rmlarsen on 10/3/2009 2:37:50 AM , Rating: 3
Dude, you must be new here. A Jason Mick article is SUPPOSED to be either blatant plagiarism or mostly wrong. Sigh...not sure why I even bother reading it anymore?

RE: Do some research ...
By johnsonx on 10/3/2009 1:08:37 PM , Rating: 3
lol, I generally avoid looking to see who wrote the article before reading it.... then when I get to the obvious Jason Mick bit, I scroll back up to confirm. Works every time.

RE: Do some research ...
By xyn081s on 10/4/2009 10:57:26 AM , Rating: 2
Well thank god for sending us a genius like you to enlighten us. How is a regular guy that stumbles upon this article supposed to know that? He comes in here, reads this and goes out and buys it. And when he finds out it doesn't work, he's pissed because he wasted his money on something he will never use.
So, take your asswipe comments and go back to your momma's basement. Oh, and don't forget to rate me down on the way there...

I'm kinda lost
By SurreDeth on 10/2/2009 2:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
If people don't want to pay for new hardware, why would they pay for a new OS to run in old OS mode?

RE: I'm kinda lost
By TomZ on 10/2/2009 2:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
Who said they don't want to pay for new hardware? The problem that XP mode is designed to solve is with older software that is incompatible with Vista/Win7 for which there are no updates available.

RE: I'm kinda lost
By SurreDeth on 10/2/2009 3:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
So why are they not sticking with XP to begin with?

RE: I'm kinda lost
By TomZ on 10/2/2009 3:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
Because they can get the benefits of Win7 plus being able to run crusty old apps that only run in WinXP.

RE: I'm kinda lost
By Sulphademus on 10/2/2009 4:15:23 PM , Rating: 2
For the extra security and stability that Vista/Win7 have over 2K/XP.

Eventually new software isnt going to be verified to work on XP, just as over time dev's stopped caring about Win95. The RAM limitation on XP is a growing concern as well (even though you can get Win7 in 32bit flavor). Given the XP userbase, these arent immediate threast but Im sure they have crossed some peoples minds.

Also the eye candy is pretty sweet.

RE: I'm kinda lost
By The0ne on 10/2/2009 3:08:14 PM , Rating: 2
In most cases it's not the hardware or OS but rather the software itself that's not being updated as TomZ said. Mom and pop shops are notorious for this as well as city councils. I don't get tire of saying that there are people out there still refusing to use new technology and are tied to to typewriter. Some even dot matrix printer! Even seen Futurama? hahaha

Incompatible Lists for WIN7 retail?
By sparkuss on 10/2/2009 1:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
So, are there already any incompatible lists that would tell me if I'll be needing XP mode right off the bat?

I know it hasn't been released to retail yet, but have the retail copies been tested?

By The0ne on 10/2/2009 3:05:04 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you're going to get a list anytime soon. And even if you did it's going to be limited to the "popular" applications/games.

By TomZ on 10/2/2009 5:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently, Microsoft will be hosting a site about Windows 7 compability:

Do we Really Really need it?
By Cygus on 10/3/2009 2:49:58 AM , Rating: 2
I've been running win 7 64bit RC1 since its release and have not yet found one program that doesn't work with it - and i use a lot. Only one ever needed to be switched to XP compatibility mode (Turbocash 3) Perhaps its just me but i think the Xp mode is overrated

I like it
By mtsjkman on 10/3/2009 5:13:19 AM , Rating: 2
Hmm.. not bad.. but i don't see the use of this since Windows 7 got the compatibility function work nicely. Hmm.. maybe for business people will use it. If it can play 3D games then, i'll install it immediately because online games couldn't work with Windows 7 now

PC Gamers
By WiiKnee on 10/2/09, Rating: -1
RE: PC Gamers
By amanojaku on 10/2/09, Rating: 0
RE: PC Gamers
By damianrobertjones on 10/2/2009 5:21:17 PM , Rating: 1
This year I've played the follwing

Supreme Commander
Supreme Commander the Expansion whatever it's called pack
Riddick Escape from butcher Bay
Unreal T III
C&C Tiberium Wars
C&C Kanesd Wrath
Currently playing Trackmania as it's fantastic
Street Fighter IV next.

Yes, a lot of people do game on the pc and I actually purchased all of the above games as I'd like to keep pc gaming alive. Consoles come and go.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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