Microsoft announced on Thursday that the final version of the Windows XP virtual environment will be available on October 22, the day Windows 7 launches. Known as XP Mode, Microsoft's new virtualization software makes it easier for businesses to migrate to Windows 7 since they can take their XP-specific programs with them. But using XP Mode is not for everyone. Here's what you need to know:
What is XP Mode?
XP Mode runs Windows XP with Service Pack 3 as a virtual environment inside Windows 7. This allows you to run XP-specific programs on a Windows 7 machine.
I Also See Something Called Windows Virtual PC -- What's That?
The Windows Virtual PC is the underlying software engine that makes virtualization like XP Mode possible. You need Virtual PC to run XP Mode.
Who is XP Mode For?
Microsoft decided to launch the new feature as a way to convince reluctant small and medium-sized businesses to give up XP for Windows 7. Some businesses run custom software that may have compatibility issues with the newest version of Windows. Concern over conflicts with custom software is one reason some business users opted not to migrate to Windows Vista. By offering XP mode, Microsoft hopes to finally close the door on Windows XP and pull its customer base away from the aging OS.
What Do I Need to Run XP Mode?
You can run Windows Virtual PC on any version of Windows 7, but XP Mode runs only on Windows 7 Enterprise, Professional, or Ultimate.
You will also need to make sure that your computer's processor can handle virtualization. PC World has a partial list of processors that can't support XP Mode virtualization, and Microsoft has configuration utilities for Intel and AMD processors that can tell you if your computer is ready for XP Mode.
Where Can I Get XP Mode and What Does it Cost?
You can download the XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC release candidates right now from Microsoft's Website. The finalized versions will be available for download on October 22. Windows XP Mode and Virtual PC are free downloads.