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 …


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  1. James Boag

    Microsoft Compatability !

    But when do we get a ZX80 mode !

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I wonder if...

    People will just run windows 7 permanently in XP Mode.

  3. tony72
    Gates Horns


    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.

  4. Mage

    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?

  5. Paul

    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.

  6. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up

    @tony72 - VirtualBox... very good; I've used it to access USB storage devices at least, and that seems to be handled OK.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    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 ;-)

  8. Craig

    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.

  9. Lee Dowling

    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.

  10. Ian Davies

    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.

  11. Rob


    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.

  12. Dave

    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.

  13. Pete Smith


    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


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @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. :)

  15. Trevor

    @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

  16. Greg


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

  17. Anonymous Coward

    windows what?

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

    Sounds good to me...

  18. Morten Riis

    @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.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    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).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  21. andy gibson

    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.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  23. robin penny

    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?

  24. zachary

    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.

  25. Duncan Robertson

    @ 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.

  26. joshua kidd

    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

  27. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  28. Wibble
    Thumb Down

    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"

  29. Dave


    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.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    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?)

  31. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    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"

  32. Ian Davies

    @ 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...

  33. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  34. TeeCee 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.

  35. Anonymous Coward


    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!

  36. Anonymous Coward

    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

  37. raving angry loony

    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.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  39. Angus Cooke


    ... 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!

  40. Andy Worth

    @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.

  41. Leonard Shelby

    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.

  42. Eduard Coli
    Gates Horns


    Windows in Windows on WOW?

    Smells like desperation.

  43. Steven Knox
    IT Angle


    "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.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  46. Psymon

    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.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

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

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


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

    Why do they have to copy (cr)apple?

  48. A. Lewis
    Thumb Up

    @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.

  49. Steven Hunter

    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...

  50. Michael Jarve

    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.

  51. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    So many questions!

    Is this version of XP *exactly* the same as the usual one. If not, MS have just increased my test matrix. Thanks for that. On the other hand, perhaps it is a virtualisation-friendly build, which *would* be nice.

    Is it maintained through Windows Update on the host or on the client. The latter may *seem* more obvious, but unless it is permanently running I can foresee larger numbers of "unpatched" or "not patched often enough" copies of XP in the wild.

    Can I cut and paste between the two machines? Does the client have access to all the hardware on the server.

    If this is mostly aimed at big business, who probably already have XP licences, isn't it easier and safer for them to plonk a real copy of XP in a *known* VM host environment?

    Is this an admission by Microsoft that they *can't* deliver a backwards compatible OS and still include useful new features? If so, is the closed source business model basically at the end of its useful life? Should the big corporates now intensify their investigations into Linux and WINE?

    And finally, why have MS just thrown their customers into a state of confusion weeks before the launch? (It may not hit consumers for ages, but there's an RC hitting corporate admins almost immediately with, one presumes, the RTM in the next couple of months.) This is a stunning announcement.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason people like XP.

    It's faster, more reliable, you can copy, share, and play anything without microsoft telling you you can't.

    Also, copying a big directory from one machine to another doesn't crash the network card.

    That said, I've had vista for weeks now, and I no longer hate it. I loathe it instead.

    What exactly is it doing when it's not being used? It has hours to lock the terminal, but for some reason it waits until I want to use it, then it takes 20 seconds.

  53. Maty

    So ...

    I've got XPpro, and no need for DX10. It's a clean system that runs fast and (touch wood) without crashes.

    Have I already got windows 7?

  54. Mike Groombridge

    havn't they done this before

    Right maybe i read this wrong but i assumed they meant it a run the APPLICATIONS in a Virtualised environment not just run a xp vm on your windows 7 machine

    you know like Xen App Streaming or microsoft V-app or VM wares product (VDI is it).

    plus mickeysoft have done this or at least similar before with 95 they was a way of making command prompt act more like full dos (or was it in 98) as the cmd wouldn't run some apps without it. surely this is just the modern equivalent.

    putting aside the compatiblity issues the machines i have used with vista have been pretty good the most annoying feature and biggest problem was the access control crap once i'd disabled it the machine worked ok (all right it was a brand new machine and the change in admin tools was annoying but once connected to the network it was fine)

    it's only the compatibility issues that have prevented us from upgrading

    (sorry to stop the microsoft hate fest)

  55. Pete
    Paris Hilton

    If this is the case...

    ...Does that mean when I'm in XP mode that I can run stuff in 98 mode...?

  56. The BigYin

    @Nick Palmer

    VirtualBox is pretty good (seamless Windows, 3D Acceleration support...), but it's USB support is utterly appalling. Buggy, unstable and just not worth it. Fortunately the Fodler SHaring system is pretty good and that allows you to side-step the USB limitation to a great deal.

    If you really, really need USB support then your best choice is VMWare. It's USB support seems to be very good.

  57. Neil
    Thumb Up

    Copied from OSX

    OSX included the virtualised environment for legacy compatability, and it did the trick for the transition period until everything went Intel native.

    This atually really great news for Windows. By virtualising everything made for XP and before, when Windows 8 arrives MS can strip out all 16/32bit legacy code and have a really quick and lean OS.

    The Registers articles are getting less and less credible lately.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    re: The reason people like XP

    Well my XP never been that reliable. Better than 95/ME but there again it is hard to think of something that isnt. I dont need to reboot my Vista machine as frequently as I did my XP.

    The networking issues including copying are gone as far as I can tell. Fixed in some update or another. I certainly no longer have problems (but i did originally).

    UAC obviously needs to be turned off for the machine to be mildly useable but thats ok, its a 10 sec operation.

    The one thing that does still annoy me with Vista is when it decides to do "something" with your disk. Ive turned off the fast search and indexing stuff. Yet periodically it it decides to molest my disk for 20mins...gggrrrrr

    - The IT Shrew

  59. The BigYin


    "The pimply-faced linux fanbois who think that after writing a couple of VB6 applications they are programming demi-gods."

    Seeing as how VB6 is a dead language (or, rather, it should be - horrid bag of shit that it is) that does not, nor has ever, run on Linux....why would Linux "fanbois" be going near it. They're going to be C++ hackers.

    I do agree though, people you do not follow standards are a royal PITA. That goes for the lowliest programmer right up to the largest corporation (your spotty oik to MS).

    I also feel your hard-coded path pain. Why do 95% of Windows software installers demand to use C: and want admin rights? *sigh*

  60. Schultz

    Programmers vs. users

    <<<<<< The eternal fight >>>>>>

    Side one: The Programmers (Everything is better now, forget the old crap ...)


    Side two: The Users (I don't care about better, give me what I can work with ...)

    Round 7, clear win to the users, hooray!

  61. Keith Doyle

    It better run in 256MB on slow HW...

    If W7 XP mode will run on low-end hardware I'd really be impressed, but I doubt that's the case. There's plenty of old computers out there that are still perfectly serviceable providing you *don't* try to run Vista or later MicroBloatSoftWare on it...

  62. Anonymous Coward

    @Tired of Vista / Windows 7 bashing - kill XP

    I have no sympathy for your 0 sympathy!

    Clearly you've never worked in a production environment where you have PCs controlling machines, test equipment, PLCs, spectrometers, etc. I don't know about your company, but the one I deal with doesn't have $10K+ per machine to upgrade the software to versions that will run on something newer. Not to mention antique hardware like ISA cards. And if you can finagle it to work with something newer, guess what? The vendor no longer supports it because it isn't running on the "recommended platform"

    I agree that you have to pull the plug sometime, but it just isn't practical to abruptly 'switch off' compatibility.

  63. ratfox
    Thumb Up

    That's one problem solved

    Now that companies now they will be able to use their existing solutions, they need to be convinced that upgrading is worth the price of new, faster computers...

    Because that's the main problem of Microsoft: companies have found they can actually survive fine with an older OS.

  64. Ian Davies

    @Steven Knox

    Ok, revisionism again... I should say "an **unsupported** 8 year-old operating system"

    You're right; age is no indicator of usefulness alone. But XP has been EOL'd. If the OS you're using has a roadmap and support plan going into the future, then that's fine. But running mission critical / niche software (the target audience we are told this is all about) that requires an OS which is classed as obsolete by the *vendor* is just plain dumb because, at worst, it means you are using dead software and if you come across a bug in the app you have no chance of getting it fixed, and at best even if the vendor is still around they are only going to able to fix bugs in the app itself. If they come up against a bug in the OS then you're screwed. Either way it's a bad idea.

    Microsoft should come up with some compelling reasons for people to upgrade, and businesses shouldn't be expecting Microsoft to keep dragging their arse along in the 20th Century.

    Oh, and I'll take your 21 year-old OS and raise you to 39 years. Little thing called Unix... last I heard it was running Mac OS... ;)

  65. J

    Sounds smart...

    "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."

    Well, I'm just a scientist, not some business type, but this sounds like a smart move.

    Who upgrades their OS, specially in the Windows world? You know, go to a store and buy a box and then do all the incantations? I don't know about enterprise, but in academia I can tell you: nobody. At home it is pretty much the same, I suspect. When the machine falls apart (or rather: is perceived to do so, when it's actually just Windows bit-rotting, but I digress), people buy a new machine. Which comes with Windows installed on it, unfortunately, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. So, there goes another Windows sale, as has been for a long time now. Then people use the thing (and complain that it looks a little different, blah, blah), and install their old programs on it. And if everything still runs, yay!, and the old OS is forgotten. If not, see Vista's history and its resulting reputation (regardless of it being deserved or not, which is another story). Same will go for developers, I think. The developing tools will be geared towards the new OS, so why not use them as they are, since the users are all adopting the new OS anyway, since it seems to work exactly as before?

    So, if this works well and easily for the computer illiterate as well, it should be a success. Mucking as little as possible with the user interface always helps too, of course.

    Or not.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Buy 7 so you can continue to run XP.

    Why don't they save themselves the problem of a huge development project, which is something they are not terribly good at anyway (look how long it has taken to get to XP, an MS Windows OS that does work) and just send out begging letters instead?

  67. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    RE:Anonymous Coward 14:06 GMT By Anonymous Coward Posted 14:06 GMT

    We'd love to move on from WinXp and upgrade to windows 7 8 or 9 (what happens when it gets to windows 95?)

    But theres the cost of replacing the legacy apps.

    If Barcleys bank says that their credit/debit thingy used for transferring money from the company accounts to various employee accounts is only certified for WinXp, then we have to use WinXp, if our CAD/CAM software costing £20 000 is only certified for WinXp , then it has to use WinXp.

    Or perhaps you'd prefer me to crash one of the £120 000 robots we use to manufacture bits because we decided to use the Xp version on a windows 7 box and it pumped out a subtle error in the CNC code we use.

    As for software 'writers' saving data to the System directories and/or hard coding program directories..... they should be shot! know it makes more sense

  68. Tom Silver badge

    So what users want

    is WinFS(?) and DX10. But MS wont make these available under XP which is more than capable of 'running' them. Seems a bit like having to get a new car cos the ashtrays full.

    WinFS - oh goody another DB to loose data into - less people know about inner joins now than 10 years ago!

    But companies dont want you playing games so theres no need for DX10 so no company with any brains is going to pay for W7 to do nothing useful for the company.

    So its the end of the line for windows upgrades in business!

  69. James Gibbons

    There are reasons we programmers don't use the registry...

    When you need to make it easy for field techs to backup software settings, an INI file saved in the programs's directory works quite well. Try to explain to a customer half way around the world or a field tech how to backup your specific branch of the registry. The registry is also very bloated in many computers which results in slow access. The INI files are also easy to edit if that becomes necessary.

    I'm no Linux fanboy, but I'm using the Qt framework so I can switch if necessary. I only received the final Vista drivers needed to run our flagship product just a few weeks ago and am not very trusting in how our hardware will continue to perform on Win7/8. I'm tending to pick only vendors that support both Win/Linux just to be on the safe side.

    Not that Linux doesn't have problems too. Almost every release breaks drivers due to low level kernel API changes, but the user level API has been fairly stable. And I'm not forced to move to a new version as often or troubled with activation or DRM.

    My only question about building a VM Win XP into Win 7 is when will the EU decide this is bad for other VM vendors with similar offerings? Will the XP VM be added for free or be an extra cost item? And considering VMware has much better USB support, how about letting them shim their VM into Win 7 also? Would MS be willing to allow this?

  70. Reg Sim

    I'm good with this.

    I am enutsiastic about W7, where as I was like F@?k that with Vista. I am more concered about them keeping some Vista compatability - now that would be a waste or resorces and make the Vista mess up even more pain full.

    Anyway, I consider the move possitive. I am mainly a gamer on my PC these days and knowing all/most of my games have a fighting chance of running on W7 suits me.

    What intrests me, is does Windows 7 32 support XP64 compatabilty?, and like wise what about windows 7 64?, will it run XP32 an/or XP64 apps?


    Skull & Bones, because Yarrr me heartys :)

  71. Eddie Johnson


    <<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.>>

    The funny thing about this is you just described NT4. Back when it was done properly. Then MS tried to merge the shitty 9x OS's into the code base and allow Win2K to support gaming, which necessitated allowing apps to interact more closely with hardware. And this is why I still have NT4 servers running. Other than USB support and the latest incarnation of NTFS MS has added pretty much nothing to the OS since 1995.

    Anyone who has coded an app to require admin access since the days of NT4 is just full on incompetent. Yes, Quickbooks, I'm looking at you!

  72. Richard Plinston

    Ubuntu + Win4Lin

    Years ago SCO Unixware had a mechanism called DOSMerge that allowed MS-DOS and, later, Win3.x to be run in a window on CDE. This developed to run Win95/98 and continues, after being sold off several times, as Win4Lin ( that will run XP on Linux (also a version for Solaris).

    It can run a complete desktop in a window or individual applications in their own windows.

    Rather than double your resource requirements with Win7 + WinXP just to run the same stuff you could run Ubuntu + Win4Lin + WinXP.

  73. Eric Hood

    The one thing they could copy.

    The one thing Microsoft should do as Apple does is constantly draw a line in the sand and say this will only work on something modern.

    iLife '09 works only on newer hardware and if 10.6 is not Intel only then I expect 10.7 will be. The Intel transition was announced 2005.

    This may also explain the higher priced second hand Apple market as people buy older computers to run old software such as architectural software.

  74. Ron Christian

    I have an idea...

    Let's just run Windows XP natively, and run Windows 7 in an instance for those few things for which we'll actually need it. I had Win7 Beta running under VirtualBox on top of XP, runs fine.

    It seems like the least needed OS should be the one virtualized, not the most needed.

    If I'm understanding Microsoft's proposal the procedure would be, a company doesn't request the customary downgrade to XP when they buy new machines, they go ahead and take them pre-installed with Windows 7 and then run all their applications in a virtual instance of XP. Making Windows 7 the most bloated bare-metal virtualizer on planet earth.

  75. zachary

    Windows 7 Look

    Wow you people complain because you think windows 7 looks too user friendly and too stylish but if it didnt you would all complain it looks too clunky and is too complicated to do something fast. Seriously stop complaining just to read your own posts.

  76. Stuart Duel
    Gates Horns

    say what?

    Someone said: "the windows OS has a place for everything."

    No it bloody well doesn't. Windows just vomits data all over your hard drive when you install it (or anything on it).

    So MS is going to virtualise their very old, no longer supported OS Win XP using software they bought in but didn't invent or write themselves which will run on top of the new Win 7 which will have hefty hardware requirements in itself even before you fire up XP mode.

    What if you need to run other virtual boxes as well? Or will you have to run multiple virtualisation packages to achieve this?

    MS would have been better off years ago building a modern, lean and mean OS from scratch which could run virtual machines of your choice invisibly as needed. But given so much of Windows (and MS software generally) is a kludge of bits and pieces bought, borrowed or stolen then thrown together in a big pot and stirred incessantly to the point where they don't know where one piece of spaghetti code ends and the next begins, I can't say I have much confidence in MS achieving anything efficiently - let alone elegantly.

    So how much overhead will this XP mode require on the hardware? Slow as treacle on a cold day on 'average' aka "Windows 7 Ready" hardware perhaps? This should be interesting to watch.

    XP mode is beginning to sound like a big bag of hurt. Talk about strangling the baby at birth!

  77. Raymond Cranfill

    Not So Fast

    Evidently, the XP compatibility layer will not be included in the boxed Windows 7 product. Rather, it will only be available as a download and only to those who have purchased the ultimate version, which no doubt will be upwards of $400. It is hard to believe that such an approach will produce a tightly integrated, seemless experience. Plus, it stands to be glacial in terms of performance if you try and run it on a machine that lacks virtualization support in the CPU. And how much RAM, exactly, will such a machine need?

    Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. If the betas are any indication, it appears to be a stable, nimble OS, but MS is about to ruin it. We already hear indications that there will be a netbook version (Windows for White Trash) designed to run on sub $300 machines which will be limited to running three applications at the same time. I can see MS counting TSRs as programs, thus nixing multitasking entirely. Now we hear about an XP compatibility layer. Ughh. MS had a chance to resurrect its business with Windows NT, truly a top to bottom creation that did away with DOS and promised a new approach. MS couldn't leave it alone, however, and insisted on porting and grafting a bunch of crap from the Win95 code base. Now see what we have.

  78. joshua kidd

    Seems to be alot of confusion

    Seems alot of peeps dont understand the virtualazation method being used here, it is NOT a Full XP Virt enviroment it is a per APP VIrt, meaning very minal resouces are needed for and its only used when you launch the app that requires it and then is shutdown when the indiv app is, if you launch 3 apps at the same time that require it then 3 seperate vitrs are setup one for each app, which still uses less resources than a full virt enviroment. concerns there would be USB access and network access depends on the setup we will have to see when its added. If done right shoudl be very good.

    As far as windows 7 resource reqs without virt, im running it on a laptop with a single core 32bit chip and 1 gb ram, which vista crawled on l on and xp ran ok, 7 runs fine no real issues, the interface graphics wise is dumbed down as the onboard vid cant handle the full deal but other than that 0 issues.

    There are always going to be haters that will spout off on any issue with no experience on the topic, and no undertanding of how things work. ignore the trolls, lol

    My main system atm is running 5 OS's: Vista x64, 7 x64 and 3 diff flavours of linux . Vista is a good OS that got alot of bad press. due to OEM's wanting to cut corners and alot of vendors who dragged thier feet on drivers, ive never understood on blaming the OS vendor for hardware vendors lack of ability for programing drivers that work or on time, thats regardless of OS.

    XP is an 8 year old OS let it die gracefully, the Per App virt is a way to allow that. good move.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Advsertising doesn't get any better than this!

    "Works almost as well as the crap we were selling ten years ago!"

    How could anyone resist?

  80. Neil

    In response

    @Eddie....Active Directory? Come on seriously? you think NT4 is worth sticking with?

    @Stuart I think you'll be surprised if you actually use it. I'm running Windows 7 on a 2ghz Pentium-M and it's just as quick and responsive as XP. Vista didn't last 2 days on it.

    I think MS are referring to virtualisation in the style of Xen or Hypervisor. It's not a large additional overhead, it's only virtualising the application, not a copy of XP for each and every old app you run.

  81. James Silver badge

    Re: There are reasons we programmers don't use the registry...

    If your applications are so unstable you need to regularly back up parts of the registry to ensure that they function correctly then maybe you have other problems to take care of. If you have a genuine reason for end users to be messing around in the registry, write a utility that extracts the parts of the registry you need to be saved to a file.

    Either way you have no excuse to be dicking around with .ini files as if we're all still living in 1987. And if you must persist on doing so, learn that the correct place to write them to is NOT in the program's directory, but under one of the user's application data folders designed for exactly that purpose. Go read up on SHGetFolderPath and move to the 21st century.

  82. Sooty


    this just the same sort of thing as the 32bit emulator that the 64bit version of windows uses to transparantly wrap 32bit apps?

    While a good idea it does have 1 minor drawback, it works so well that nobody develops 64bit software, unless they have a pressing need to address a large amount of RAM.

  83. Dave

    Definitions of better

    I don't know about you. But it's pretty obvious to me that Microsoft are suffering because they keep ignoring what the words Operating System traditionally meant.

    All the stuff that makes XP better than Vista are down to its simplicity.

    Paying again to get the same apps running (presumably slower and with a larger memory footprint) with a new boot screen is not really a winner for the customer.

  84. Peter Kay

    Developers and ini files

    If you are still using ini files you are as James says, a muppet. Join the fucking 21st century.

    Idiots like you are why Vista has had so many problems with old apps. I bet you think admin access is a given right too.

    It's perfectly possible for a field tech to edit the registry. Never heard of .reg files?

  85. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    No, no, no

    My next Windows OS will be Linux.

  86. John F***ing Stepp

    @Peter Kay

    Don't break it just because you can.

    (some advice I got about 30 years ago,)

    And the registry while fun is kinda hard for a lot of users, and real easy to break, fold and spindle.

    People can get by while ignoring the hard stuff, I mean, really; who in the hell resorts to INI files?

  87. Peter Kay

    @ 'Don't break it just because you can'

    I agree. The problem is that it was *broken in the first place*. The registry or, if you really must, ini files in per user application directories works. Ini files in the program files directory was never supported but people did it regardless (possibly shitty ex Windows 3.1 coders, or crappy 'there's only one user in 95/98' assumptions. XP has been out since 2001. No excuse.)

    Suddenly Vista arrives and starts enforcing the rules that should have been best practice for years. Don't whinge at Microsoft - it's not their fault (of course Microsoft also didn't follow best practice, which doesn't help either).

    General users shouldn't be touching the registry - it is not designed to be a user accessible technology. Neither should users touch ini files. If you need to edit the registry/ini files, a programmer should be writing some code for you to change the value..

    Same thing with administrator access. It's been best practice to run as user privilege in Windows for years, and in Unix 'forever'. The screw started turning a couple of years before Vista came out as certain sysadmins started locking down desktops and expecting things to still work. Shitty developers still ignored this and users whinged when Vista implemented an entirely reasonable block on admin activities by default.

    People hate the UAC, but if you're not running sysadmin tasks and are running properly written software, it's rarely seen. Funny, that.

    Sometimes it is necessary to 'break' things, because what they're doing should cause them to break. If you don't punish poor behaviour, it doesn't change.

  88. Snert Lee

    Flashback ?

    This remind anyone else of OS/2 and its Windows 3 compatibility? Only this time, Microsoft is doing it to itself.

    MS lost the way on Vista, from the get-go, because its primary beneficiaries were not the users, but MS itself, promising itself a full round of upgrade income, and "premium content providers", wasting gobs of resources on Trusted Computing and trying to create uncopyable data streams just to sooth the likes of the MPAA and RIAA. Which of the three pillars of Longhorn actually made it into Vista when the calendar said it was time to ship? Why the one that treats all users like copyright thieves, of course.

    What's the big marketing slogan of Windows 7? Now! 40% Less Annoying!

  89. James Gibbons

    @INI vs Registry

    "If your applications are so unstable..."

    Actually they are quite stable. Millions of $ of product are processed by the programs every day. I just don't see the point of using a bloated registry that stores the data in a format that isn't easy to edit without the system running. Perhaps it's better than putting the data in a section of the WIN.INI file, and if I needed a tree structure I would possibly use it.

    Have you ever run the System Internals Procmon program and taken a look at the amount of registry access going on in an idle Windows system? Many programs waste tons of CPU cycles reading the same registry keys over and over again.

    "Idiots like you are why Vista has had so many problems with old apps. I bet you think admin access is a given right too."

    Yes, my apps require admin rights due to several factors such as using real-time priority. They run critical machines and must do so 24/7. Yes, I could hack the local security settings, but it's just easier to run admin. Access to the machine is controlled so users can't muck it up.

    Actually, the reason Vista has so much trouble with old apps is because a bunch of idiots wrote it! You can't add security to an insecure API without breaking old apps. You also can't clamp down too much or people will move on to something else that allows them to get the work done without the complications. Just say NO to UAC!

  90. James Silver badge

    Re: @INI vs Registry

    "Many programs waste tons of CPU cycles reading the same registry keys over and over again."

    Again, that's a result of lazy programmers. Reading the same registry key over and over again is a complete waste of time - I totally agree. Which is why RegNotifyChangeKeyValue exists. Read the registry keys you're interested in on startup and watch for changes.

    "You can't add security to an insecure API without breaking old apps."

    And so you forcibly ensure the machine is as insecure as possible by running as Admin all the time. Nice... Which applications do you work on, btw? Just so I know which ones to avoid...

  91. joshua kidd

    @James gibbons

    I hate to say it but its programmers like you who are the reason for holding back advances.

    You actually set your apps process prioty to realtime? lol

    Ive been programing in various langs in multiple OSes including Linux and UNIX since the mid 80's, there is never an excuse to set process prioity that high on a permanant basis.

    You remind me of programmers i met when nt 4.0 just came out and they were still trying to program for it as if its 3.51. "This is easier because i dont have to learn anything new"

    You could double your efficiency by multi threading the app and not increasing the process priority and thats staying with 32bit not even to mention moving up to 64 bit could do. none of whcih requires admin access for the process.

    Also as far as the registry, alot of programmers even for major houses dont follow proper practice, an app should only have to read the registry once copy the data to memory when it starts and only write to it if something has changed that they are storing there. Only a moron would program and app to poll the registry over and over unless the apps purpose is to monitior the registry for changes and thats only special purpose apps as it is often easier and more effecient to monitor process requests to add info to the registry instead.

    There is 0 reason to have an app require admin acesss, natively. Thats completely undfefendable and only shows your lack of experience and training.

    If for certain functions the app may need admin or higher or differnt user access(and alot of cases it may be needed like accessing a network resource that the current user doesnt normally have access to or for per session resouces and many others), then program the app to interface with the api and with user input to define the username and password required to access that resouce and of course encrypt the user data to prevent security issues or if using the full api is posible let the OS handle the request and the security, whch of course is the preferable way.

    As far as the API least for the windows side, vista and 7 the api didnt chaneg at all, the functions have existed in the api since nt 4, just many amatuer programmers never looked at those functions as they didnt have to, it wasnt forced, now it is. it was of course extended to encompass the added capibility the OSes have over XP.

    XP was heavily critized as a step backwards in security due to the fact all apps were run with admin, and that descion by MS is why XP is so ridden with spyware, malware virus vulnerablities, as any app can modify system files and directories. it was a throwback and combonation of the highly insecure 9x code base and the more secure nt4/2000 code base.

    it also of course allowed the bad programming practices that were prevelant in windows 9x to continue.

    Is MS to blame for allowing bad amaturish programming to continue of course they are. They shoudl have put thier foot down on this issue with xp and not waited 6 years to fix it (vista was relased in 2007), and this move with windows 7 is a way to mitigate the results of that failure, of letting programmers like you get away with this bs for all these years.

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