By Harry McCracken | Friday, April 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm
How can you ensure that Windows 7 will run Windows XP applications? Make it run Windows XP. That’s the idea behind Windows XP Mode, a free download that Microsoft will make available to buyers of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. (Here’s Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurott’s report on it.) It’s a copy of the next generation of Microsoft’s Virtual PC virtualization software that’s been pre-bundled with Windows XP, and which lets you run XP apps within Windows 7 as if they were native 7 ones–seamlessly, in theory. Sounds a bit like the experience of using VMWare Fusion’s Unity feature or Parallels Desktop’s Coherence one to make Windows apps show up in OS X.
You gotta hope that there are relatively few instances when Windows 7 won’t be able to run an XP app natively, but this sounds like a useful security blanket, especially for companies that run custom apps. It’s also a sign of the ongoing relevance of Windows XP. Sounds like a smart, inventive move on the part of Microsoft.