The last two weeks were filled with rumors about the upcoming Windows 7 Release Candidate. Not only because it is a major step in the development of the next Microsoft operating system, but also because of some major announcements regarding the operating system that were supposed to be revealed around the same time.
It seems that at least one of the major features has already been enabled in the leaked Windows 7 Release Candidate.
The feature is called Virtual XP Mode, or XPM, and is available in Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise. It requires one additional download but is completely free if you run one of the mentioned Windows 7 editions.
It basically allows users to run a virtual Windows XP client on the computer system so that compatibility issues should be a thing of the past. Windows XP applications can be displayed on the same desktop as their Windows 7 counterparts making it a one desktop solution.
This mode is different from the compatibility mode that Windows 7 users may use of to run an executable using a different operating system version.
The major benefit for companies is that they can now run their proprietary programs that are compatible to Windows XP on Windows 7 as well without the fear of another Windows Vista disaster which turned out not to be as compatible as advertised in regards to legacy software.
The following screenshot shows two Word clients running under Windows 7. Word 2003 in Virtual XP Mode and Word 2007 in Windows 7 natively.
Paul Thurrott who broke the news about the benefits:
That's a pretty interesting feature for many companies that have not made up their minds yet about Windows 7. It should give them a positive boost in the pro-Windows 7 direction.
Update:While Windows XP mode is still available as a download for all supported versions of Windows -- you can download it on this Microsoft Download Center page -- it needs to be noted that Windows XP mode is not supported by Microsoft anymore. Since it follows the same support cycle as Windows XP, support for it has been retired as of April 2014. A comparable solution has not been integrated into Windows 8 or Windows 10.
If you require access to programs that run only on XP or even older versions of Windows, you may want to consider using virtualization for that.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.