Sunday, April 26, 2009

Windows 7 - now with the secret ingredient XP added!

According to OSNews (your source for all the latest operating system news) Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions will come with what Microsoft is calling XP Mode, which promises to give you absolute compatibility with Windows XP for any applications that don't play nice with Windows 7.

This will be accomplished by making available a fully integrated and licensed copy of Windows XP SP3 in a VirtualPC-based environment. Currently, VirtualPC is a free download from Microsoft -- what's new here is the inclusion of a legal copy of XP.

This sounds like an interesting approach to the thorny issue Microsoft faces every time they introduce some major changes to underlying operating system architecture -- how to support the old stuff out there without grunging up the new OS?

One concern I'd have about this approach is this: how much overhead will running XP in a virtualized environment generate? I've played with running XP this way and face it, your poor computer is now essentially running two computers at once, which means potentially halving the performance. You can virtualize all you want but you still only have so much memory and CPU.

I'm curious to see if this will be a full, stock version of XP or if it will use techniques used by the little known edition of XP known as Windows FLP, which is available only to volume license Software Assurance customers, and not as a retail item. Windows FLP is designed to run on legacy (read: "old") hardware that doesn't meet the hardware specs for Windows XP Pro.

Because it sounds like this is a post-install item, I doubt it will be available for people downloading the Windows 7 Release Candidate -- now confirmed to be available after May 7.

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