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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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....

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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