The feature, however, was only in rough
form in the beta candidate and previous release candidate builds.
Yesterday Microsoft release a new
release candidate that at last added a near-finalized version of
this functionality. The build is available
here and runs Windows XP SP3.
Aware of security
risks, Microsoft has accompanied the build with a warning that users
should install anti-malware and antivirus software to protect Windows
XP. It has been speculated that malicious users could exploit
the virtual machine's lack of certain security features -- such as ASLR
(Address Space Layout Randomization) or an Internet Explorer Protected
Mode -- to perform guest-to-host attacks. This problem is
minimized by the fact that the install comes with a firewall and that
Microsoft will be offering free antivirus support for XP as well as
Vista and Windows 7 this fall (a second beta is expected to drop
Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows communications manager at
Microsoft comments on the new RC build, stating, "Windows XP
Mode is specially designed for small and medium-sized businesses to
help ease the migration process to Windows 7 by providing additional
compatibility for their older productivity applications. The newly
updated Windows XP Mode now works with the RC and RTM versions of the
Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs."
differences in functionality of the new XP Mode and the old are subtle, but
significant. Windows XP applications running on the Windows 7 task
bar can now be accessed by right clicking. Disk sharing between
Windows 7 and Windows XP mode can now be disabled and users can
choose where there Windows XP differencing files are stored.
USB devices can now operate within Windows XP without needing to go
into fullscreen mode, useful for accessing content from programs like
Word 2003 running in XP Mode. Finally, a tutorial about XP Mode
is now included, a great feature for new users.
director of Intel vPro Ecosystem Development lauds
the feature, praising that its not only a fun toy for home users,
but a valuable asset to businesses. He states, "The
increasing prevalence worldwide of PCs based on Intel Core 2
processors with Intel Virtualization Technology is enabling a variety
of new applications that provide business opportunities for greater
manageability, security and cost reduction. Used with Windows XP
Mode, Intel Virtualization Technology helps small- and medium-sized
businesses migrate more efficiently from Windows XP to Windows 7.