Windows XP Mode is Ready to Roll

By  |  Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12:22 am

linusOver at ZDNet, Mary-Jo Foley reports that Microsoft has finished up Windows XP mode, the Windows 7 feature that lets you run programs that are incompatible with Win 7 in a window that’s really a virtualized copy of Windows XP. Windows XP mode isn’t quite a feature: It’s an optional 350MB download that requires Microsoft’s Virtual PC and only works with Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Yes,the end result is similar to what you can already get via VMWare or Parallels (or Virtual PC), but if you buy one of the qualifying versions of Win 7, XP mode doesn’t require you to pay for virtualization software or a copy of XP.

I have a hunch that Microsoft devised it as much to provide cautious business customers with a security blanket as because it think that XP mode will be widely used. For every company that actually uses it, there will probably be several who are a little more likely to make the leap to Win 7 sooner rather than later because they know it’s available if they need it.

Your take?


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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    The biggest problem windows has is backwards compatibility: the Windows sales team KNOWS backwards compatibility is the single most important feature for bussiness customers, and this blocks a lot of progression on the dev team.

    For example: When 2000 was being designed, Bill Gates wanted it to use the modular microkernel design. This however, at the time meant lower performance for existing games, since they would make a lot of recursive calls at the modules towards the microkernel, meaning a lot of large call-stacks, meaning lower performance.
    So just because the old games would have lower performance (mind this: they would WORK, just at a lower framerate!) the whole microkernel concept was dropped, and ever since Windows has kept it’s big bloated blackbox kernel design, just to keep the users of legacy programs happy.

    This is, I think, windows’ curse and bless: compared to other OS’s Windows as an astonishing legacy-compatibility: a 16bit MSDOS app will still works on Windows 7 (32 bit ofc), but they have to keep supporting bad architectures to do this.

    The point I want to make with this little story is that XP-mode is promising: instead of making sure everything works OOB, windows now offers a virtual machine. ofc, windows still has all the old libraries and the blaoted kernel: most apps won’t require XP mode, but if MS is smart, they could use the XPmode to drop the OOB support: just redesign windows from the ground, and give users something liek XP mdoe that runs their legacy apps in a virtual machine, assuring total compatibility.
    This way windows can make some major internal changes… at last! :p

    This basically is what Mac OS did with Classic (during the OSX transition) and Rosetta (during the Intel transition) btw 😉

  2. pond Says:

    I agree with Bouke. I’ve long thought MSFT would best simply come up with a radically new OS, modular, sleek, net-aware, very-secure, and multimedia-ready. Something really lean and fast. Then get the gang they bought when they got VirtualPC to roll over a WinXP virtual machine as a part of every install. Keep up with that for 3-4 years, then offer the virtualXP as an option on installation for another 3 years or so.

    MSFT is going through an awkward phase ever since they lost Bill Gates. They really need a tech-visionary with enough power to organize the other 100,000 or so engineers behind a common view forward. Under Ballmer alone, the company seems to be coasting. A lot of good initiatives are proposed, developed, and left to die, for want of that vision, which Ballmer seems to lack.

  3. Backlin Says:

    All the things I wanted to say have already been said 🙁 . Microsoft has a stellar opportunity to radically redesign Windows 8 if they come up with a way to run the legacy core libraries in a virtual mode. This way, they’re only called when they’re needed.

  4. JessicaD Says:


    Thank you for highlighting Windows 7. iIf you or any of your readers would like to read what other users have said about their positive experience with Windows 7, you may want to check out the following sites: and

    Also, the Win 7 Enterprise Evaluation is a 90-day trial is now available to help you test and evaluate the final, released to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 7 Enterprise. Designed specifically for IT professionals, this 90-day trial is offered in English, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. If you would like to try it now, please go here:

    Microsoft Windows Client Team

  5. Jeff Says:

    You know, JessicaD, just because a few simpletons blog about what they think and what they think others think about Windows 7 does not mean that the product is ready for prime time. The fact is that Windows 7 is not as widely supported by as many software publishers as you and Microsoft would lead us to believe. And I get tired of the cheerleading and propaganda.

    I don’t need sandwichware to deteriorate my already deteriorated OS performance. And I don’t need a new and improved OS that cannot natively run my mission critical applications. Being forced to run “XP Mode” over Virtual PC until all vendors get on board is really the height of lunacy.

    MS should have integrated XP “Mode” at the kernel to be called on as and only when needed.

    So, where is my incentive to jump through hoops for the privilege of being abused by the amazing Windows 7?

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