back to article Windows 7 gets built in XP mode

Microsoft is adding a "Windows XP Mode" to Windows 7, in a move to encourage users to make the switch to the software vendor's forthcoming operating system. The firm has built its XP mode into Windows 7 by using the Windows Virtual PC technology Microsoft acquired in 2003, to make the OS compatible to run apps designed for Vista …

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Happy

Microsoft Compatability !

But when do we get a ZX80 mode !

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I wonder if...

People will just run windows 7 permanently in XP Mode.

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Gates Horns

Improvements?

I wonder if they are making improvements to the Virtual PC platform while they're at it, as it has some pretty annoying limitations. The current Virtual PC doesn't virtualize the host PC's USB ports, so software that requires a USB dongle can't be run in it, for example. At our shop we have some expensive software that requires 32 bit XP and is USB dongled, and Virtual PC was useless for that. I've been meaning to evaluate Sun's VirtualBox, which I believe is much better in that regard, but I haven't gotten round to it yet.

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Flame

Why not

Scrap it

And simply do a XP ver 2 with WinFS, DX10, option for Vista/Win7 eyecandy etc...

Is there anything other than DX10 that real users actually want in Vista/Win7 that XP doesn't do?

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I hate this title requirement

In theory, this sounds like a good idea, especially if the transition between modes becomes seamless. For example, if you can launch a "window" that contains the virtualisation, whilst keeping the sidebar alongside your workspace.

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@tony72 - VirtualBox...

...is very good; I've used it to access USB storage devices at least, and that seems to be handled OK.

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Alien

Licence

So who has the XP license if a 'XP virtualisation' mode is available? Does this mean that Windows 7 comes with an XP license? Could I downgrade ;-)

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Coat

OS9 Classic mode..

..or just like parralells in OSX.

I find it funny that to make any new OS sellable (OS X/Win7) needs XP compatibility.

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Silver badge

A big mistake?

Or, I could just run XP. Or virtualised XP on Linux. If this is true, it's *extremely* dumb of Microsoft at a time when they are hoping to sell more units of Vista/Windows 7 than they did of XP. It seems that Vista was a bit of a dead horse (although with MS even dead horses sell millions of units) and Windows 7, which is touted as being the horse's salvation, actually turns out to consist of giving you back the old horse you had eight years ago.

I assume that the virtualised version of XP will either have to have mainstream support (and thus provide yet-another-extension to XP's life, albeit in a roundabout way) or will have to be unsupported (in which case you are no better off than just virtualising XP yourself.). Have Microsoft finally given up the ghost and admitted that the apps that run on Windows XP can't be run safely/securely/reliably/compatibly on newer platforms without just running XP in secret? I think that WINE and ReactOS may prove them wrong in the long run.

This seems to be a death throe of Microsoft operating systems - they can't make people move off XP so they carry XP indefinitely in a virtual machine? Where's the incentive to write Windows 7 apps if most serious Windows 7 users get full, real, XP compatiblity for nothing? Where's the incentive to upgrade to Windows 7 for the business user if most of their software runs identically on XP and they are in fact just going to be running virtualised XP?

I would assume that Microsoft have cocked-up, I mean "extended", the version of XP included such that it doesn't integrate as nicely into the system as they claim and thus can't be used by people to get a freebie XP environment that integrates into a more modern kernel.

All dues to them - they are at least giving people what they want finally. A way to reliably run XP-compatible applications on a modern system and take full advantage. Unfortunately, it's a bit late and done in very much a backwards way. Emulation environments such as this are useful when your underlying "new" infrastructure is *so* advanced that backward compatibility is absolutely impossible. So you move over to an entirely new driver model with support for entirely new types of hardware and then run your legacy apps in an emulation until you can convince your programmers to move you across to a native app.

But really, at this stage, (and announcing this so late just *reeks* of desperation to win some sort of attention for Windows 7 features) it's all a bit too little, too late.

If I *wanted* XP, I would just get a Windows XP or above license and virtualise it myself. Windows 7 has been touted to cure all Vista ills, which it's obviously not going to do. I think this is just final confirmation that Microsoft:

- Don't know how or why Windows XP was so popular.

- Can't replicate or move forward with the Windows XP-era API's (and thus should really be making new and better ones above and beyond driver model changes).

- Don't have the knowledge to extend Windows XP with what they've learned about security, etc. in the last few years.

- Don't understand how customers think.

- Has pretty much abandoned all the code it's written in the last eight years because it doesn't really improve things for the customer that much.

Thanks Microsoft - confirmation of what we all knew all along. Windows XP was your best operating system and you have no idea how to actually improve it in your customer's eyes without a marketing trumpet to blow.

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Some people never learn

The biggest millstone around the neck of Microsoft, its developers and its customers, has been its insistence on legacy compatibility. Instead of making a clean break with the past in the name of a lean codebase and an advanced, stable architecture, it just keeps layering on thick gobs of backwards compatibility. And for what? So tight-fisted businesses can run antique software? Bad trade-off.

Apple knew they had to make this decision for OS X, and they grasped the nettle. True, OS 9 was a much bigger bag of washing than the NT-based 2000/XP but the pain was no less of an impact because of that. There was plenty of howling and indignant rage that the (somewhat) beloved OS 9 should be tossed out, but it was Apple's way or the highway, and most people chose Apple's way. The platform has been rejuvenated because of that.

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Rob

@mage

but DX10 is the only reason most people have to upgrade, if they do a version of it for xp it'd pretty much kill win7.

if anyone else knows of a reason to upgrade from xp i'd love to hear it, i was nearly tempted by the ability to use more memory, but then i remembered that none of my games eat up the whole 2 gig i currently have on xp, so it seems a bit fruitless all in all.

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Bronze badge

Where have I seen his idea before?

All the best ideas in Windows were copied from the Mac, shame so many of them have been butchered along the way.

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Go

@tony72

I've just started using VMWare Server 1.0.x

It's free (you need to register to be sent a serial though)

It'll import VirtualPC setups

It virtualises USB ports

HTH.

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting...

@AC - Probably yes, MS have said you can downgrade to XP from 7.

You will get a virtual image with XP installed in the compatability mode, with the ability to run the applications nativly on the W7 desktop. (think Parallels or VMWare fusion for Win7)

You will need a CPU that supports virtualisation though.

And probably a bucketload of memory. :)

http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2009/04/25/windows-xp-mode-internals-part-1-overview.aspx

http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2009/04/25/xp-mode-fun-ie-6-and-ie-8-side-by-side.aspx

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Linux

@AC 11:13

I think they mean virtualised as in Linux's "Wine" style virtualised. It doesn't actually install/run XP.

It's no news really, since MS did something a tad similar (not completely, granted and I understand the differences thanks) when going from 16bit to 32bit.

If the writer had like payed more atention to grammer in skool, they cood have told us that proper.

Penguin...because....well, look at him

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@tony72

Another one for Virtualbox here. Very nice free virtualisation kit.

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Happy

windows what?

oh I see, Microsoft has decided that Win 7 will get a built in upgrade!

Sounds good to me...

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@Paul - should be possible

Both Parallels and VMware for OS X have this feature and can present XP or Vista windows seamlessly on the OS X platform.

VMware exist for the Windows platform, so I guess it is possible here to. But about Virtual PC I have my doubts; Microsoft has not kept this product up to the standards of modern virtualization products.

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Go

actual vitualPC?

perhaps not. The way I understand it, you will get XP in a virtual mode, but your application will still install under win7. That way, your application will use the hosts FS as well as the hosts devices, but don't expect to play XP games on it :p

if this works then it will set my mind at ease, since our ERP frontend does _NOT_ run on vista without giving us a headache. Everything else on the other hand works fine (the ERP is the only thing when can't get the latest edition of, because it will cost us an arm and a leg).

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Paris Hilton

Why does this mode exist?

I think I've got a reasonable understanding of virtualisation but I don't get why this exists - do we know in advance that some application that ran under XP won't run under Windows 7, and if so, why? Has some legacy functionality been removed from the OS? How is this different from the compatibility tab in a program's shortcut properties?

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wooing small businesses

The only way you're going to attract businesses to Windows 7 is if you're going to thrown in a free PC capable of running it.

Times are hand and if old computers work and your software doesn't require Windows 7 (I'm guessing that most businesses are running XP, Office 2003 and apps like Sage) then why bother upgrading?

The PCs in my organisation are old (Celeron 2.4 with 512Mb of RAM) but they work and run all the programs we need them to so I'm not going to upgrade just for the sake of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Two lots of Windows updates then?

So installations will required two lots of Windows Updates - Updates for Win7 and WinXP - does this mean MS will extend the life of XP indefinitely in terms of updates, patches.

Win7 is just Vista Sp2 - actually all I want is Windows XP SP4.

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Sounds like MED-V

Hmm, sounds rather like MED-V - one of the newer components of MDOP (The Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack), but normally only available to SA customers.

Is Microsoft at last accepting that we should be able to virtualise multiple copies of Windows on the same PC without having to pay for extra licenses?

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stop complaining about new windows just because everyone else does

Why do you people complain about windows 7 being like xp with just minimal differences and some appearence changes WHEN windows xp had the same minimal differences from windows ME. Seriously stop complaining just because everyone else is.

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Stop

@ Ian Davies

Mate, businesses that don't upgrade aren't being tight-fisted - more like cautious! If you have an application that cannot run under Vista/Win7 e.g. ERP, CAM or something else that interfaces with some legacy kit it may cost you hundreds of thousands even millions to upgrade or update. You cannot go passing comment like that from your ivory tower. Sharing your thoughts on your experience and knowledge of running a network full of MS Office processing folk that simply use Word and Outlook is not the basis for generalised comment and vindication of those of us that run a suite of disparate and complex applications.

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XP compat

The reason some xp apps cant run under vista or 7 is the new code base doesnt allow for any app to run with admin privledges or any direct hardware access less ya go thru the HAL or directx, less its manually SU, many apps ASSume they have admin rights so install services or starts or stops them without going thru the proper api, or were taking shortcuts that vista or 7's security wont allow.

This was and still remains the biggest problem with XP that ALL apps run with admin privs and can therefore do anything they want it also made it harder for MS to close certain security breaches. Vista and 7 dont have this problems its why ive only seen a few vista or 7 based pc with bad spyware or virus infections, that arent removable without the need for safe mode, most spyware simply cant function without admin since it doesnt get it .it doesnt work, so many anti vista peeps dont relize how much nicer it is not to have to worry about that.

The virtual PC soultion is a good one as it sandboxes the xp app that doesnt follow spec retains security and compatibility, thats of course if they implement it right, lol

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Go

That's nice, but...

Even with hardware support for virtualization turned on, it's likely to be pretty slow, at least compared to the real thing.

If they want it to be a big seller, and since they're already including XP support, how about including virtual OS support (and licenses) for Win 98, 95, and NT? At least then there's even more of a reason to upgrade---support for all that old software (incl. games) that won't run on XP, as well as the bennies of a modern OS. And while they're at it, improve the VM---Microsoft's offering barely holds a candle to VMware.

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Why bother?

I'm not sure if I'm being thick here, but why not just stick to running XP in XP mode and not bother with "upgrading" to XP/Windows7.

Microsoft's issue is that XP is good enough for just about all *business* requirements so there's no *need* to upgrade.

Just imagine the following conversation between an IT Director and a Finance Director about budgets:

ITD: "We need a large budget to spend with Microsoft to upgrade our computers"

FD: "Why, what's in it for us?"

ITD: "Oh, it's the same as before; Windows XP"

FD: "ODFO"

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@Paul

VMWare Workstation has "unity" mode. That is the equivalent of VMWare Fusions interact or whatever it is called. Basically minimises the VM out of the way and integrates the menu with the apps into the host. The VM then behaves just like any other program... all but one that needs at least a dual core CPU (preferably quad) and a tonne of memory ;)

And yes.... the bloody Vista sidebar would still be viewable... honestly though: do people actually use it?! It's one of the first things I get rid of!*

* When forced to use Vista.

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Jobs Horns

@dave

Actually no, MAC copies many windows features, which are just less publicised, while apple hype them for all they're worth, even if they are a fundamentally flawed/useless idea (Shadow Copy/TimeMachine anyone?)

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why dont they just make a XP V2.0

it would be better...

At the moment the selling point is "buy your new product, its exactly the same as the old one"

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@ Duncan Robertson

No ivory tower here, and I don't even run a network (at least not any more). I'll retract my use of the word "tightfisted" (although it *is* still the perfect description for some businesses who refuse to invest in their tools) but the basic problem remains unchanged. Microsoft has a choice when it comes to forward-looking development or backwards compatibility, and they choose compatibility every time. This is clearly a problem within Microsoft. But at the same time, how long do businesses really expect Microsoft to keep extending the life of an OS which is, in software terms, ancient when it comes at the expense of being able to develop for the future?

If someone's business depends on software which is so poorly maintained that it *requires* an 8 year-old operating system, then I would suggest that they have a slightly bigger set of problems...

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Alert

no extra license for XP

for those who keep compering this feature with other VMs. You won't pay for an extra license for XP (if you wish to remain legit). Also this new feature will be supported by MS as long as Win7 is supported, unlike XP which will be unsupported soon (or did they already drop the support?)

and for all it worth, the problem here is that XP will be removed from the market. Companies will get Win7 on their new hardware and in few years no one will be able to give you an XP license that you can use with your box. Allowing XP to live in Win7 helps those who need to run those old programs without having to go through the downgrade process.

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Gold badge

Copied from Apple?

Yeah, right!

I suppose that if you pretended that the Windows support under OS/2 never existed then you *might* be able to pass this sort of thing off as an Apple idea.

But it did, so you can't.

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Stop

@zachary

XP was nothing like ME.

XP was built upon the NT base. ME was built upon the 95 base.

Watch what happens when an application fails, then you'll see!

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Flame

Tired of Vista / Windows 7 bashing - kill XP

Sick and tired of Vista and Window 7 bashing. I run Windows Vista and I like it. There said it!!

Is it perfect? No, not by a long long way. But I moved to Vista because XP had plenty of flaws. (faffing about at the begining of day, network taking an age to come up, getting unstable when youve had a lot of apps running, etc). I've now moved to Vista x64 and a lot of my Vista woes are gone. I suspect its better because it had SP1 built in rather than x64. I could never get my original install of Vista to accept the SP1.

I have 0, nil, none and zero sympathy for anyone how has mission critical apps that dont work on XP. Move on for god sake. Legacy support for stuff has always been what's held everyone back. Look at Linux, "legacy" whats that? They will completely break old stuff because they believe the new way is the right way and damn you if you feel different. I'm not advocating the Linux attitude but some half-ground is certainly necessary.

I think Microsoft should grow some balls and remove this feature. More bloat which I dont want on my machine. If they are confident about their products people will get their products working on Windows 7.

(ps if anyone knows the difference between Vista and Windows 7 please let me know. Other than cosmetic issues i'm damned if I can tell the difference. )

(pss Windows 7 shows as version 6 of the os lol)

- The IT Shrew

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oi! that's my idea!

Hey cool! I've been using that trick for a while with my clients. Run Linux, BSD, or some other reliable operating system and run WinXP (using a client's existing license) in a virtual machine for those apps that tried to lock my client to Microsoft. I've replaced a lot of Vista that way, and it's been solid. When the VM blue-screens, nothing is really lost, and VM "backups" are just a cp away.

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Anonymous Coward

And why might I ask

would any company want to shell out top dollar for a new OS that does the same job as the old one only not as well?

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Stop

Surely...

... I can't be the only person who prefers Vista (the current release) to XP and use it for work and home by choice on a powerful laptop!

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@Richard Drysdall

With a large enough application set there will always be some legacy apps which don't run under the new OS. Given how massively used Win XP has been (and for many years) I would expect there to be MANY apps which need to make use of the "XP mode".

Bear in mind that (excluding Vista) the last major upgrade most companies did would have been from NT/2000 to XP, around 7 years ago. I happen to know that some companies STILL to this day have Citrix or some similar back-end to run legacy NT applications.

There is a massive difference between how PC's were viewed 7-10 years ago and how they are looked at now. Whereas back then, in a lot of cases they were treated more like an accessory to help people work, I think it is safe to say that now most companies rely almost exclusively on desktops of some variety rather than on paper communication.

Add to that the change in sheer numbers of PC's involved and now an OS upgrade becomes a massive undertaking. All MS are doing is removing one more potential reason why people might not upgrade to Win 7.

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Oh FFS.. MS...

Stop making silly, incremental little Operating Systems with no tangible benefits that noone with a real life cares about. Windows XP SP2 works, period. Well done, here's a cookie, now go away and don't come back until there's some really good reason to do so, like, oh I don't know, when we start using organic processors or something, which really NEEDS a fundamentally new type of O/S, and then actually make something REALLY new.

Windows Vista, mm shiny - pointless. Flaky. Why bother unless you're the sort of person who buys a Mac because they `look nicer`.

Windows 7 - Erm, OK. Whatever you say.

Windows 8 - Oh I see what you're doing, clever. Oh look at the weather, let's go outside and have some fun.

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Gates Horns

Crapatibility

Windows in Windows on WOW?

Smells like desperation.

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IT Angle

Ageism

"If someone's business depends on software which is so poorly maintained that it *requires* an 8 year-old operating system, then I would suggest that they have a slightly bigger set of problems."

You're presuming that the age of an OS is inversely related to its utility. You're also presuming that an old OS requirement is solely the result of poor maintenance.

Also, your core argument (forward-looking vs backward compatible) presumes that the two are mutually exclusive.

Our core system requires a 21-year-old operating system. The difference is that that OS is still supported and updated by the vendor -- and it was built from the ground up with future advances in mind. In that way, we get both forward movement and backward compatibility -- and an "old" OS that still provides more utility than any iteration of Windows -- or MacOS.

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Gates Halo

Scott of the Sahara

Isn''t this a bit like the Monty Python sketch 'Scott of the Sahara' where they dig a trench for the actor to stand in but then put a crate in the trench?

Sure MS - I'll upgrade to your latest operating system in order to downgrade it and carry on using what I've got now.

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Anonymous Coward

@andy gibson, Re: Sage

We've just been told that to run Sage 50 efficiently, we need to upgrade all our machines to the lastest spec and include gigabit networking to the desktop...all for an accounting package!

The sooner they move to MySQL the better...bloody DTA files!

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Flame

the real reason for the xp virtualisation

is crap programmers who can't stick to the standard windows API protocols.

as a sys admin I have to deal with these fundementally ham fisted attempts at programming on a regular basis.

the windows 7 registry is perfectly backwards compatible. IF YOUR APPLICATION WAS USING IT CORRECTLY IN THE FIRST PLACE!

I run a tight ship on my network, and security is screwed down to eye watering levels. That's when you discover that the legacy app used by finance was programmed by an inbred 11 fingered chimp with a copy of VB6 who thinks it's OK to store all his config.ini files in the system32 folder.

the windows OS has a place for everything, and if you want your software to function correctly in a network environment, then everything must go in it's place.

From my experience these thorns in my side fall into one of two catagories.

First you have the ex-military type. These guys have come from an establishment (usually the army) which has been stuck in a timewarp for so long they still use modula-2 for some of their code. Albeit seriously behind the times, these guys are normally genuinely pleasant and willing to listen.

Then you have the others. The pimply-faced linux fanbois who think that after writing a couple of VB6 applications they are programming demi-gods.

Generally, these types refuse to believe that using text based config files, hard-coded API references, custom GUIs and bypassing the registry are completely unacceptable behaviours within a corporate network environment.

It's these people that cause 99% of windows related problems (XP these days is virtually bullet-proof minus shit software) and cause huge wastes of my time.

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Re: Tired of Vista / Windows 7 bashing - kill XP

Have vista on laptop and dont like it as much as XP.

Why?

simplicity - i take the tellietubbies playschool look off and make it like windows 2000 stylee please

Why do they have to copy (cr)apple?

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@Lee Dowling

Hear hear!

That's the gist of what I was going to comment after reading this article! :)

I await with interest finding out what MS are going to do support-wise and update-wise for XP given that this latest move essentially prolongs its life for at least as long as they support Windows7.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

You're all wrong

Microsoft didn't steal it from Apple or VMWare. They all stole it from OS/2.

A "Seamless Win-OS/2 session" ran Windows 3.x in a Virtual DOS Machine (VDM) with the application's the windows shown in the Presentation Manager.

PS: I'm just as sad that I know this as you are...

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You're all wrong! It parallels not with Parallels, but...

Rather the Classic Environment in the early very expensive beta versions of OS X, which ran OS 9 and all of the pre-Carbon apps in their very own sandbox. A lot of people were hard pressed to give up their Adobe Photoshop 5 and such, which could not run at all, let alone natively, under OS X.

It's kind of interesting, really, and clever as well. Apple managed two major architectural shifts and and even a couple of important OS changes, making the process as invisible to the user as possible. For developers on, on the other hand... In any event, this is a good thing for Microsoft to take from the playbook, as long as, like Apple, they don't make it a chore to use for the end user.

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