Microsoft Releases Windows XP Mode RC for Win7

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Announced today on the official Windows 7 Team Blog, Microsoft has just made available the release candidate for Windows XP Mode. You can grab it here.

Windows XP Mode, for those that don't know, is a free downloadable "virtual XP environment" for Windows 7. It's provided mainly as a way for businesses to migrate to Windows 7 without worrying about that one application they rely on that just won't run on Vista or Win7. We gave five reasons why it's not good for consumers back in April, and went hands-on with the feature back in May. Microsoft has made several improvements to the software since then, including:

  • You can now attach USB devices to Windows XP Mode applications directly from the Windows 7 task-bar. This means your USB devices, such as printers and flash drives, are available to applications running in Windows XP Mode, without the need to go into full screen mode.
  • You can now access Windows XP Mode applications with a "jump-list". Right click on the Windows XP Mode applications from the Windows 7 task bar to select and open most recently used files.
  • You now have the flexibility of customizing where Windows XP Mode differencing disk files are stored.
  • You can now disable drive sharing between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7 if you do not need that feature.
  • The initial setup now includes a new user tutorial about how to use Windows XP Mode

Of course, Microsoft still recommends that customers run everything that they possibly can natively in Windows 7, and leave XP mode for the "last mile" applications that simply can't be made to function properly in the new OS. Given the overhead of XP Mode (it's basically a virtual PC under the hood) and the system requirements (you need a CPU with hardware virtualization, for starters), I think that's probably good advice.

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