Microsoft issues the Windows XP Mode Release Candidate, designed to allow older applications not compatible with the upcoming Windows 7 operating system to run on a Windows 7 machine. Microsoft no doubt hopes Windows XP Mode will head off the complaints about XP compatibility that plagued Windows Vista, driving both small and large businesses to hold off on upgrading their systems in favor of keeping their old XP-equipped machines.
on Aug. 4 issued the Windows XP Mode Release Candidate, an updated version of
the software that will allow older applications to run using the Windows XP operating
system on a Windows 7 machine. Designed for "last mile" compatibility,
Windows XP Mode exploits advances in virtualization to achieve that dual state.
The free application can be downloaded here.
Microsoft could very well be hoping that Windows XP Mode will help Windows 7
avoid the backward-compatibility complaints lodged against Windows Vista by
many users, who found that their XP applications were unable to run on Vista's
then-new architecture. This lack of compatibility was cited by many businesses
as a reason for keeping their IT infrastructure based on XP, even if that meant
holding off for years on a tech refresh. When Windows 7 launches on Oct. 22,
Microsoft is no doubt hoping that the operating system will be adopted rapidly
both by consumers and the enterprise, boosting its revenue during the recession.
Windows XP Mode creates a virtualized environment running Windows XP Service
Pack 3; older applications can then run within that environment, although
Microsoft recommends that users install anti-malware and anti-virus software in
Windows XP Mode to close any potential loopholes.
"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,"
Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows communications manager at Microsoft, wrote in an
Aug. 4 posting on the Windows Blog. "The newly updated Windows XP Mode now
works with the RC and RTM versions of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and
This new version of Windows XP Mode offers a handful of improvements over
the beta version. For example, applications running in Windows XP Mode will be
able to access USB devices without needing
to go into full-screen mode, and user can access Windows XP Mode applications
from the Windows 7 task bar by right-clicking. Users can also choose where they
store Windows XP Mode differencing disk files, and disable drive sharing
between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7.
"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," Tom Quillin, director of Intel vPro
Ecosystem Development, said in a statement. "Used with Windows XP Mode,
Intel Virtualization Technology helps small- and medium-sized businesses
migrate more efficiently from Windows XP to Windows 7."
announced that Windows 7 would include an XP Mode in April, combining
desktop and presentation virtualization technologies in order to run otherwise-incompatible
applications. Given that Windows XP Mode is still fundamentally XP, certain
security advances such as ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and Internet
Explorer Protected Mode are nonfunctional, and there
is a potential for crossover attacks under certain circumstances.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.