Windows 7 wants to be your trusted upgrade from Windows XP—so much so that the Redmond giant will offer a virtualised "Windows XP Mode" in Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions when they drop.
Image via Paul Turrott's SuperSite for Windows.
It won't be baked directly into the Windows 7 Release Candidate, the free download officially due out May 5 but already circulating on BitTorrent. Instead, an XP Mode plugin will be made available as a free download for Release Candidate users and, eventually, paid Professional and Ultimate users.
What's XP mode? According to Windows watcher Paul Thurrott, it's a licensed, virtualised copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 running inside Microsoft's own Virtual PC framework, customised and framed to allow anyone who needs a picky XP application to run to simply install it while XP Mode is enabled, then have it run as a virtualised app in the future without thinking about it. It is, in a way, a 100% compatibility promise, but it remains to be seen how smoothly Virtual PC can be integrated into Windows 7 itself.
Also unknown is just how XP Mode will be licensed and provided. It's a certain no-go on the Starter and Home editions of Windows 7 meant for notebooks and lower-end PCs, but there's no word on whether XP Mode will be restricted to corporate licenses or available for retail and new PC customers.
Does a licensed, virtualised XP running inside Windows 7 change your outlook on the OS? Tell us your take in the comments. Coming Soon: Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC [The Windows Blog via SuperSite Blog]