Windows 7 to include ‘Virtual XP’ for 100% XP compatibility

Premium editions of Windows 7 will include an ‘XP mode’ for running the aged OS or individual apps directly from a Virtual PC session.

Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to encourage XP loyalists to shift to Windows 7. The latest sweetener? A cut-down version of the company’s Virtual PC program plus the core XP code (no XP install disc required) will be woven into high-end editions of Windows 7 so that users can run specific XP applications or an virtual session of the never-say-die OS.

Dubbed ‘XP Mode’, this approach will guarantee full compatibility for applications written for Windows XP by recreating the OS environment inside a virtual machine

A cut-down version of Virtual PC baked into Windows 7 will be customised for setting up a Virtual XP machine – no XP install disc required (pics courtesy of SuperSite for Windows)

Devices such as USB drives can be attached to the virtualised OS as a shared device which is simultaneously accessible to XP and the Windows 7 host, and applications installed into XP Mode can be launched directly from the Windows 7 start menu.

The Virtual XP session provides ready access to USB devices plus the ability to launch a virtualised XP application directly from the Windows 7 start menu (pics courtesy of SuperSite for Windows)

XP Mode is said to be included in the Windows 7 Release Candidate due to land later this week but which has already been leaked onto BitTorrent.

However, the feature will be limited to the Professional, Business and Ultimate editions of Windows 7 and will also require a processor that supports virtualisation.

Incompatibility with XP software was one of the many issues surround Windows Vista, and many pundits had long tipped that Microsoft would use virtualisation to make Windows 7 more XP-friendly.

Scott Woodgate, a director of Microsoft’s Windows Business Group, says that “Windows XP Mode is specifically designed to help small businesses move to Windows 7” by providing users with “the flexibility to run many older productivity applications on a Windows 7 based PC”.

“All you need to do is to install suitable applications directly in Windows XP Mode which is a virtual Windows XP environment running under Windows Virtual PC. The applications will be published to the Windows 7 desktop and then you can run them directly from Windows 7.”


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