Why You Don't Want Windows 7s XP Mode

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Windows 7 will feature a Windows XP mode that will allow applications to run in an XP virtual box so they will run without problems, but will appear as if they're running natively on Windows 7. It's a great tool for businesses and may end up killing Windows XP. But there are five reasons that it's not ideal for consumers.

XP Mode isn't targeted at consumers; instead it's primarily for small and medium-sized businesses who have applications that won't run well on Windows 7. Using it allows those businesses to upgrade to Windows 7, but still be able to run their old XP applications.

For small and medium-sized businesses, it's a great deal -- you get the flash and productivity improvements of Windows 7, while still running Windows XP apps. And you won't have to pay extra for running XP --- it will be free.

Consumers, though, may not be so pleased with XP mode. Here are five reasons why.

The file system may be a kludge

The file system in XP mode will be separate from the file system in Windows 7. So sharing files between the two environments will be a challenge. There will be ways to share files and folders between the two of them, but Microsoft says that it won't be one hundred percent seamless. In other words, prepare to be confused.

It's not for gamers

Are there games that run on XP but don't run well on Vista, and you don't expect them to run well on Windows 7? Don't expect XP Mode to help. It's not designed to run games, and so won't be a viable solution for you.

You won't get the full Windows 7 experience

Individual windows in XP Mode will look like XP, even though they're running inside Windows 7. But they won't run like Windows 7 windows, and won't have all of Windows 7 features. For example, they won't work properly with Aero Peek.

It won't ship as part of Windows 7

Windows XP mode will primarily be provided by computer makers or system integrators directly to businesses --- companies will buy machines with XP mode already installed and ready to go. IT staff will also be given tools to install XP mode on Windows 7 machines, and manage them.

Consumers, though, will be on their own. They'll have to download software, and do the installation themselves. In the ideal world, this will be easy. Few of us live in the ideal world, and usually it takes a bit of hit-and-miss to properly install virtual machines. Don't expect it to be a walk in the park.

You most likely won't need it

Microsoft is targeting small businesses with XP Mode. Older applications that typically might have problems with Windows 7 are connectivity-related applications, and custom-built ones. Most other applications should work fine in Windows 7. For that reason, most consumers will never feel the need to give XP Mode a whirl.

None of these caveats apply to small and medium-sized businesses --- for them XP Mode will most likley work very well, and be a very good deal. But most consumers shouldn't expect much from it.

This story, "Why You Don't Want Windows 7s XP Mode" was originally published by Computerworld.

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