Print 37 comment(s) - last by VooDooAddict.. on May 4 at 3:21 PM

It looks as if Windows XP might live on, just without a body so to speak...

By now some of you might have noticed a news post on the Windows Supersite detailing an interesting new feature we can expect to find in Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. This "Windows XP Mode" as Microsoft is calling it is fairly ingenious and is sure to be a nice new feature to business users facing the woes of migration. If you want the full technical explanation of how this works, you can find it and more at

In brief if you have ever used Virtual PC 2005, 2007, VMWare, or VirtualBox you know how this works. In essence this XP Mode is little more than a complete (and fully licensed) copy of Windows XP running within a Virtual PC 2007 (or perhaps 2009) instance. The major difference is that setup is to the most part completely autonomous with the VHD already provided along with a full XP Pro key.

Once this XP Mode has been setup, all applications installed there that create a shortcut within the "All Users" profile, will be added to your host Windows 7 installation as well. Attempting to launch the shortcut on 7 will bring up the application, or rather what looks like the application but within the VM itself sans the XP VM container. In reality the VM is still running, it’s just launching in the background and you cannot interact with it as a separate window. Instead the only window you see is the application, which is inside the invisible XP container.

All in all, this seems like a rather elegant solution, especially once you consider that this XP Mode also supports USB devices. How far that USB support goes is another question entirely, but at least Microsoft supports some if not all USB devices within XP. For anyone familiar with the popular desktop Virtual Machine clients this should be native territory, with tweaks and other pass-through options modded into the XP machine over time.

In the corporate environment, I'm not sure if this solution is too late or merely for smaller businesses. For large businesses the Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 server might be a better bet as it offloads the "VM" to a server where the application can be shared to countless users at the drop of a hat. This would be far more nimble and central than dealing with countless XP installations within each Windows 7 system. The requirement however is that you need to have both Server 2008 x64 and a Software Assurance agreement with Microsoft. For a smaller business, or ones looking to do it on the cheap, this might be the best method yet to ensure legacy support for old software without breaking the bank.

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By Moishe on 4/28/2009 9:04:54 AM , Rating: 5
So it works like Citrix apps where the apps are in their own container and all you can interact with is the app itself, not the container.

Seems like a very smart move. VPCs are nice, highly useful.

RE: cool
By FITCamaro on 4/28/2009 12:12:08 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed. This is an amazing feature for Microsoft to provide.

Of course now we'll have the EU come along and say Microsoft is being anti-competitive with itself in that its stopping itself from selling Windows XP.

RE: cool
By Amiga500 on 4/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: cool
By FITCamaro on 4/29/2009 8:23:07 AM , Rating: 5
Man you really need to learn to take a joke. Yes it was a cheap shot at the EU, but it was done in good fun. I won't put much past the EU these days, but even I know they're not that stupid.

RE: cool
By rdeegvainl on 4/29/2009 9:00:42 AM , Rating: 3
I fail to see how microsoft offering a new OS makes a person's current OS and software useless.

RE: cool
By mmntech on 5/1/2009 4:50:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's mostly targeted at enterprise users. Many businesses use custom made software which is extremely expensive to replace. Our small family business for example kept using a "Classic" Mac OS system for a number of years to run a custom program for calculating construction job costs. It was critical to our business and irreplaceable. It would have cost several thousand dollars to make an OS X or Windows version. Vista had a great deal of trouble with a lot of software made for XP and earlier.

The XP virtual machine mode should be welcome for enterprise users wanting to upgrade to the newer OS. It should save a lot of headaches. Downtime and replacing software costs money and eats into profits.

RE: cool
By dbauer2000 on 5/4/2009 12:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
The XP virtual machine mode should be welcome for enterprise users wanting to upgrade to the newer OS.

And herein lies the real issue with any new OS. For a large business, there needs to be a compelling reason to upgrade. For now, its Microsoft saying we won't support you past N -1, so we're forcing you to upgrade, even though your current OS is working great with all your hundreds of in-house apps and the testing and validation process, along with the new maintenance costs for the new OS, will cost you $xxx,xxx,xxx.00 amount of dollars.
This is the problem with Microsoft, they built a great business OS in XP, gave all these developers the tools to create great apps, and then began forcing you to upgrade under the pretense of "no more support". Large companies will not continue to use an app (or OS) without support, so we're left with having to include in the new OS what was essentially our old OS.
I guess I don't really have a solution to this problem, just ranting....

RE: cool
By Ryanman on 4/30/2009 12:56:40 PM , Rating: 3
What do you mean by prejudiced? Have you even READ some of the insane litigation that the EU's put forward?
I'm all for bashing on M$, but I'm tired of reading about the EU using them as a cash cow. The premises behind the lawsuits are frivolous at best.

RE: cool
By Alpha4 on 4/28/2009 1:13:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm curious to see how it'll handle with gaming. oO

RE: cool
By TomZ on 4/28/2009 1:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
There's been a lot of talk about this feature and gaming...and the consensus seems to be that it won't be very good for gaming. I guess that's not surprising considering it's running the app under a virtual machine.

RE: cool
By Master Kenobi on 4/28/2009 1:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
Current VPC's don't support DirectX 9 properly and games requiring it tend not to work or work extremely poorly, so don't expect modern games to run there.

RE: cool
By FITCamaro on 4/28/2009 3:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but you don't need it for DX9 games considering nearly all DX9 games run fine in Vista and likely Windows 7. Are there any DX9 games that have an issue in Vista or 7?

This will be good for older games. And the performance penalty of the VM shouldn't hurt those games performance anyway since their system requirements will be low.

RE: cool
By Master Kenobi on 4/28/2009 3:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
C&C Generals/Zero Hour. Problem with the installer rather than the game itself it seems. Something to do with the data folder and INI files not being created in the profile\My Docs directory.

But other than that every other DX9 game seems to be fine.

RE: cool
By HostileEffect on 5/1/2009 9:50:33 PM , Rating: 2
If I recall correctly, Call of Duty: World at War, and Farcry 2 did not work for me on Windows Vista. I installed them on the same computer under Windows XP and they worked great. Not too fun waiting around two full minutes for Windows Vista to shut down so I can join up with my M8s on a game.

+1 to Vista, it almost saved me from experiencing Farcry2's abyssmal multiplayer interface.

I think we are in for a great many broken keyboards with Windows 7.

RE: cool
By homerdog on 5/2/2009 11:11:31 AM , Rating: 2
Both of those games worked beautifully on my Vista 64 machine. Perhaps it was a PEBKAC?

RE: cool
By murphyslabrat on 4/28/2009 3:45:03 PM , Rating: 2
I downgraded to Windows XP for this very reason: my super old games didn't run, and I wasn't interested in twiddling with a virtualization client. This would be awesome if some of my older games (Commander Keen, X-Com's, Descent 2, etc.) would still be usable in Win7

RE: cool
By Master Kenobi on 4/29/2009 9:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
The games you outlined would currently run without a Virtual PC 2007 instance of 2000 or XP. I have a 2000 VPC sitting around for the sole purpose of playing Star Wars: Rebellion.

RE: cool
By Master Kenobi on 4/29/2009 9:46:46 AM , Rating: 5
Without = within. No Coffee + Posting + Morning = Failure.

RE: cool
By MrPoletski on 4/30/2009 9:45:42 AM , Rating: 2
put the word 'dosbox' in google and all your old dos game woes will be fixed.

RE: cool
By PitViper007 on 4/28/2009 2:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It would have to support a much better virtual videocard than the current 8MB S3 that VPC 2007 does. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea, and for business should be a godsend, but for home users trying to get some of their older apps (read as GAMES) to work in Win7 that may not otherwise work, it'll still be an iffy proposition.

RE: cool
By fatedtodie on 4/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: cool
By FITCamaro on 4/28/2009 3:32:44 PM , Rating: 5
Any game using 16-bit code won't run. It's not indicative of it being poorly written, just old.

RE: cool
By Etsp on 4/28/2009 3:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
Or, it's a rather old game.... if it's an older game, then even if it runs inefficiently, it will still run fine...

RE: cool
By fatedtodie on 4/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: cool
By kalak on 4/29/2009 4:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
your next step should be to get a nice BIG BOLD tattoo on your forehead that says Luddite, or Loser, because inspite of your desire to remain in the past, time marches forward.

I cry when I look at 16-bit games blockiness, that is the reason I dislike the Wii, when I can play games on the 360 and the PS3, smooth versus blocky.

Sr, you are REALLY A DUMBASS !!!

What's wrong with the past ? It's nostalgy. I like to play XCOM (aka UFO: ENEMY UNKNOWN). It's a FUCKING GREAT GAME !!!! Have you even heard about playability ?

RE: cool
By fatedtodie on 4/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: cool
By DASQ on 4/30/2009 3:24:47 PM , Rating: 3
At worst, he is as bad as you. You're calling people who like older games luddites. He's calling it nostalgia, and calling you a dumbass.

RE: cool
By fatedtodie on 4/30/2009 4:22:12 PM , Rating: 2
So, the "Im rubber you're glue" defense?

I love this site. =)

RE: cool
By MrPoletski on 4/30/2009 9:59:46 AM , Rating: 3
I heard 3Dfx were pushing for 22 bit games saying they ran with the same coolness as 32 bit games but at the speed of 16 bit games!

RE: cool
By Etsp on 4/30/2009 10:46:56 AM , Rating: 2
I do find it difficult to pick up a 16-bit game that I've never played before. But the ones I used to love, somehow haven't lost their original appeal after all those years... It's not a matter of fearing advances in technology, and it's not something that would prevent me from upgrading my PC. But, since the option is there to upgrade my PC without losing those 16-bit games, that is a real and definite benefit to the new OS.

I don't mean to flame, but typically those who completely lack respect for the older games, didn't grow up playing them, I.E. Their first console was an Xbox. What I'm saying is, you're probably too young to understand the appeal.

RE: cool
By fatedtodie on 4/30/09, Rating: 0
RE: cool
By notolerance on 4/30/2009 9:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
Pot calling the kettle black.

Get over it!

Enough said!

RE: cool
By yacoub on 4/30/2009 8:01:46 AM , Rating: 3
because i'm not the programmer of the game, so i'm not worried about whether or not a game was written "correctly" so much as i am concerned with MAKING IT RUN SO I CAN PLAY IT. Amazing concept, i know. =p

RE: cool
By fatedtodie on 4/30/09, Rating: -1
"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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