Why Microsoft Windows 7 XP Mode Is a Major Advancement
7 is fast approaching. Microsoft claims it will be better
than Vista on almost every count. It will be equally as secure (if not more so), it won't require a high-powered
computer to run, and it'll have an improved interface that makes it easier to
use. Windows 7 will also have a single feature that will attract the
enterprise more than any other: Windows XP Mode.
Windows 7's XP mode is a virtual Windows XP Service Pack 3 installation running on a virtual machine inside Windows 7. Windows XP mode will share the native desktop and Start Menu with Windows 7 and provide the same file type associations for cross-platform support. Any applications installed on Windows XP will show up as apps on the user's Windows 7 desktop, giving them easy access to the software. Even better, the feature will be made available free of charge to Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate users.
When the user fires it up, XP mode will provide them with a full installation of Windows XP. They can access software that's compatible with the operating system. Even hardware that works with older operating systems and won't work with Windows 7 will work with Windows XP mode. It's a major advancement.
But just how will it impact the industry? It's more important than you might think.
Offering XP Mode is a major victory for Microsoft. For years, the company has been battling with its own success. How can it reduce all the bloated Windows code, while still maintaining compatibility with legacy versions of its OS? It tried to push users to Vista and it backfired. Companies decided against switching for fear of compatibility issues. Consumers were wondering why their applications and accessories stopped working. It became a nightmare for Microsoft that it didn't quite recover from.
But XP Mode changes all that. It removes that legacy application compatibility issue by running XP virtually in current versions of the OS. Microsoft can finally pare down legacy code it was forced to keep in the operating system to appease customers who used older wares. With XP Mode installed, users will never need to worry about the compatibility of their software or accessories again -- everything will work.
But there's another issue that Microsoft has solved with XP Mode: now, it can attract those corporate customers who wanted better compatibility than what Windows Vista was able to offer. If Windows 7 only had equal compatibility to Windows Vista, why would corporate customers want to switch to the new OS knowing their older applications still won't work with Microsoft's latest release?
With XP Mode installed, Microsoft can finally say that Windows 7 will have the same compatibility as Windows XP. Any application released for a Windows operating system over the past decade will work with Windows 7. That's something Microsoft couldn't say with Vista and it hurt the company. But it can say it this time around. And that could only improve its chances of repairing its relationship with the enterprise.
At the same time, the enterprise finally has what it has been waiting for. Some companies still haven't upgraded to Windows Vista (or new hardware, for that matter) due to fear of losing Windows XP. So, they've been laboring with older computers hoping Windows 7 can change all that.
And it will.
Thanks to XP Mode, companies can start upgrading their networks with new technologies, knowing full well that once the computers are deployed companywide, all of the applications that are required in the daily operation of the business will work just fine. At the same time, developers won't need to rush to update their software to work with Windows 7. They will know that it's compatible out of the box, giving them more time to focus on preparing their software for the future of the operating system.
For the first time in a while, the enterprise can focus on updating software without worry of the issues that would arise with mission critical applications once the conversion is complete. Windows XP Mode ensures that no matter when a software application was developed or which operating system it was designed for, it will work.
And isn't that really what companies want anyway? They just want their software to work. With the help of Windows XP Mode, that moment is finally upon us.