Windows 7 to include 'XP mode' virtualization

The news that Windows 7 -- release candidate on track for April 30, thank you very much -- will have available a virtualized version of XP that will run right right alongside 7 apps is exciting stuff for those of us who have shaken our heads at Microsoft's backward-compatibility problems over the years. It means very nearly 100% compatibility with current Windows apps; it means side-by-side XP and 7 apps (dogs and cats living together!); it means that Vista was all just a bad dream. (Okay, maybe not.)

News of "Windows XP Mode" hit on Friday afternoon more or less simultaneously with Microsoft's post on The Windows Blog announcing that the RC is looking good for next Thursday. Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, who are hard at work on Wiley's Windows 7 Secrets book and were briefed on the tech back in March, describe XPM as host-based virtualization, and suggest that this might mean that going forward, client versions of Windows may include a Hyper-V-based hypervisor.

It's not exactly included in 7, though. XPM (which will consist of that virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of XP with Service Pack 3) will be downloadable for those Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate Editions users who want it. But once it's installed, it's notably well-integrated -- install an app inside the XP environment and without further ado it's published to Windows 7 as well. That's right, XP and Win7 apps running on a single desktop. (This ought to sound familiar to Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization users, but you Virtual PC users have some joy to look forward to. It may also ring a bell with users of Parallels on the Mac.)

Release of XPM is expected to be simultaneous with Windows 7's release later this year.

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