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Windows XP Mode Coming for Windows 7



vxp_14 This looks to be very interesting. Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera are revealing information on what has been called a ““secret feature” of Windows 7 that is due to be announced officially when the Windows 7 Release Candidate rolls out.

It is called Windows XP Mode (XPM) and the purpose is to change the backward compatibility issues that each new Microsoft OS release has to deal with.

Here’s a quote:

XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site. (That is, it will not be included in the box with Windows 7, but is considered an out-of-band update, like Windows Live Essentials.) XPM works much like today’s Virtual PC products, but with one important exception: As with the enterprise-based MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) product, XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop. Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. (With shortcuts placed in the Start Menu.) That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications (like IE 6) alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop.

The idea here is that Microsoft can begin to discard technology that exists for backward compatibility by including XPM and yet still claim Windows XP compatibility for those that need it.

Paul Thurrott has a series of pictures up about this.



  1. TateJ

    04/25/2009 at 7:28 am

    As much as I like windows 7, this feature has sealed the deal for me. XPM will come in very handy. I wonder if it will let us run active sync so I can start using some of my windows ce devices again.

  2. Clayton

    04/25/2009 at 8:28 am

    This needed to be done. Windows 7 is starting to look like a pretty good deal to me…

  3. Clayton

    04/25/2009 at 9:39 am

    By the way, is there any way to do this with Virtual PC and Vista? They’ve done it with a virtual linux, that lets you run linux apps in their own windows instead of the virtual machine window. Virtual PC Express was going to do that but it disappeared. I wonder if somebody’s done it…

  4. JC

    04/25/2009 at 10:09 am

    This strategy worked for Apple when it made the transition from Mac OS 9 to OSX. (i.e., the Classic Environment.) It should work for Microsoft too. However, if XPM doesn’t come with all version of Windows 7, there will still be people who complain that their favorite program doesn’t work with Windows 7. e.g., anyone who doesn’t know about the free download or anyone using Windows 7 Home Premium.

  5. GoodThings2Life

    04/25/2009 at 2:56 pm

    This should single-handedly seal the deal for every corporate IT department on whether or not to upgrade. I know it certainly does for me. I’m already thinking today about how to get this in the budget for system upgrades next year.

    Not only is this something that needed to be done, but it’s a great way for them to promote their own Virtual PC services while competing with VMware and Apple.

  6. Kenny

    04/25/2009 at 6:56 pm

    You can download seventeen pictures (in a ZIP) of the Windows XP Mode feature here: Windows XP Mode screenshots.

  7. Ben

    04/25/2009 at 9:52 pm

    this is great. this is exactly what needed to be done–cut out the legacy support and just put it in an invisible virtual environment. thank you MS for doing it right.

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