back to article Windows 7’s XP Mode — Virtually worth the effort

The discovery that Windows 7 will use desktop virtualization so you can run Windows-XP-compatible applications caused almost as much excitement as the news the Windows 7 Release Candidate would ship this week and next. The planned Windows XP Mode will, theoretically, let you keep on running your existing applications on a …


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  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    So.... a virtual OS vulnerable to many viruses in its default state is allowed read/write access to both the host computer's hard drive and USB thumb drives (Conficker much?). Am I taking crazy pills or does this last-minute feature undermine the often-touted security in Windows 7?

  3. barmanvarn
    Paris Hilton

    I'm confused

    Why not just allow running an app under XP compatability mode, rather that running a VM just to accomplish the same task(s)?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "caused almost as much excitement"

    I know I was almost as excited. I was almost apathetic, but merely remained indifferent.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It still doesn't answer the question...

    If windows 8 is arriving in two years, is a major update from xp to W7 justified?

    All I do is click the browser, office, email and business-app icons.

    Yep, mine's the one with the name "Lu Ddite" on the collar.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No thanks

    Think I'll just stay with my XP until h3ll freezes over.

  7. Richard McDonough
    Gates Horns


    My goodness, what nonsense here.

    This is as if Goodyear made a square tire and decided that, on request it could be made round so as to make the ride possible.

    This absurd blimp is trying to park in a doghouse. Which is where Microsoft has been for me for ever so long.

  8. Bob Merkin

    I don't get it

    This sounds a lot like what Mac users went through in the transition from OS 9 to OS X. The reason was that OS X was a radical re-write that broke all of the backwards compatibility of apps for OS 9. The benefit was that OS X was a complete re-write that got rid of a lot of legacy cruft and allowed Apple to push the OS beyond what they could do with OS 9. A compatibility mode was provided for OS 9 apps, but it was a small hassle to put up with in exchange for all the shiny goodness of OS X.

    I thought one of Microsoft's excuses du jour of why Windows is so monstrous, bloated, and takes years to update is because they have to maintain backwards compatibility with 15 years worth of legacy apps. So here we have an ugly, half-implented hack just to keep perfectly good (and possibly very recent) XP apps going with none of the benefits of a ground-up rewrite of Windows to clean the skeletons out of the closets.

    Which is it, Microsoft? What do your customers gain in the bargain for losing backwards compatibility?

  9. JRallo

    So.. They are shiping XP with the biz versions...?

    I read this to read they ship a complete XP installation, ready to run with windows 7? I could have done this with vista anyway. Or wait, run windows XP on the system I already have and save the license! At least they are trying I guess. Why bother upgrading from XP to 7? From a cost stand point, it doesn't make sense to me.

  10. Michael

    Is it xp ONLY mode?

    ...or can I (for balance ) install a copy of opensuse , or fedora, or (shock) opensolaris there?

  11. sev71

    Thumbs up

    I've used Windows 7 since the first beta was released and have updated to the RC today and am very happy with it - before XP mode I Was using VMWare workstation on the rare occasion that Windows 7 became a problem so I think this is the perfect addition for those who don’t have access to VMWare/Parallels/VirtualBox which have all had the functionality for a while and been used allot of Linux/Mac users to overcome compatibility issues.

    There is a resource hit with having another OS running virtually in the background but the difference between being able to use the new OS and having to shelve it sometimes rely on compromise.

    It's been said a number of times but Windows 7 so far appears to have the thumbs up - I hope and pray it doesn’t get ruined before it's released to the public.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    How do I run Windows apps on Windows?

    That's awesome! Still much easier than Linux! Why, on Linux, if I wanted to use Microsoft Office® I'd have to install WINE, or Crossover, or worse yet a Virtual Machine of some sort... oh, wait.

  13. J
    Paris Hilton


    What I don't understand is why isn't MS able to use a "Wine-like" solution. After all, they have the source code and are supposed to understand how the whole thing works (although I wouldn't be so sure they do).

    The Wine guys manage to make many Windows apps work to different degrees of success without a virtual (or otherwise) Windows OS running underneath, so why can't MS do better, since they have the code and all that?

    Is it not possible to do completely well? Or is technological inferiority of the OS to blame? Or are MS just lazy, so they just did a mash up of previous products to achieve the same thing, only less efficiently?

  14. Kyle
    Thumb Up

    Windows 7 = Windows XP SP 7

    Ever wonder how Windows 7 got its name?

    It's just Windows XP Service Pack 7.


    Count 'em:

    Windows XP

    Windows XP SP 1

    Windows XP SP 2

    Windows XP SP 3

    Windows XP SP 4 aka Windows Vista

    Windows XP SP 5 aka Windows Vista SP 1

    Windows XP SP 6 aka Windows Vista SP 2 (has been RTM, available shortly)

    Windows XP SP 7 aka Windows 7

  15. Wolf

    You people seem to be clueless

    Ok, several points.

    1) XP mode is for those applications that for whatever reason just can't run under Win 7. That's less than 1% of all XP applications.

    2) Most companies might have *1* such application, but unfortunately that 1 is critical to Life As They Know It. This gives them the ability to run Win 7 while they transition.

    3) You don't run programs under XP mode if they run under Win 7. Duh.

    4) XP Mode does NOT ship with Win 7 it's going to be a separate download.

    5) Like OS X's classic mode, it's a cumbersome solution but better than no solution at all. After a couple of years everyone should be fully migrated that are going to.

    6) We've heard "You can have XP when you pry it from my cold dead fingers" from the Mac crowd years ago, only they substituted "OS9" for "XP".

    7) To the author, XP Mode defaults to 256MB of RAM, could *that* have been the performance bottleneck (ie disk swapping?)

    Any more silly questions?

  16. Shingo Tamai

    ThinApps Anyone?

    I guess it could be less time consuming to pay for VMware's ThinApp licenses and virtualize just the software you need.

    Or stick with XP in the first place.

  17. Mark

    Missing the point

    What people seem to be missing is the fairly obvious point that this isn't a feature designed for running XP apps - after all, XP apps will work just fine on Windows 7.

    This is a feature for running all the legacy crud that _just about_ ran OK on XP, but won't work on Windows 7. For example: 16 bit apps.

    While it's nice to have a good old laugh at MS every chance we get, there's no need to throw all reason out the window. A "WINE" Mode? That's called the WIN32 API, which Windows 7 already has, NATIVE, without the need for the "E" (as in Emulator).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Erm, just type "ver" (without the quotes) into the command prompt of any version of Windows to see the name of the OS.


    2000 = 5

    XP = 5.1

    Vista = 6

    7 = , erm, 7

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they can't... and there doesn't have to be a performance hit...

    "Unfortunately, setup came with a dialog asking for the Windows XP SP3 CD in order to modify protected files. I had no such CD. Even downloading and mounting the official SP3 ISO did not fix it."

    So they can't even get this right? Pathetic.

    And to the people who say "there has to be a performance hit running virtual"... er, no... there doesn't. It all depends on how good the paging algorithms of the various systems are. There are lots of people who will tell you that DOS/VSE actually ran better in a virtual environment since the VM paging algorithms were actually better than the DOS/VSE ones.

    Of course, that's 30+ years of experience and expertese whereas what we currently have in the x86 area is a bunch of toddler systems and a bunch of people who don't understand virtualisation.

    (No, they don't. I heard the ex-boss of the VirtualBox people speak at FOSDEM last year - he has no idea about how memory management is totally different in shared environments - and most of the others that I've heard speak are the same - clueless.)

  20. N

    I cant help thinking

    Firstly, why cant Windows 7 run stuff coded for Windows XP ? It smacks of its Windows but different in a very unpleasant manner.

    Anyway, assuming that Microsoft isnt clever enough to write an updated operating system that will run its own code, it seems to me that theyve got it arse about face (thats back to front if you reside in the US of A) as I would much prefer a refined version of Windows XP capable of running Windows 7 programs virtually, delivered about 3 years ago.

    Or was that the cluster fuck known as vista?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    The irony is that all this makes XP look good

    Before Vista was out, there were people running away from XP to Apple or Linux. Then Vista came out and suddenly XP is in the minds of everybody as the "perfect" platform!!!

    Come on, guys, if this was done on purpose would be remembered as the most impressive marketing ploy ever devised. How to create a legend of what was an ordinary to mediocre product (XP) by launching a successor so badly.

    Me, I ran away from XP eight years ago, when it was in the same sorry state as Vista was, without drivers, proper application support or scads of people skilled in fixing it and needing bleeding edge hardware to run decently well. Likewise, corporations have invested thousands of man years in creating images, policies, installing antivirus and firewalls and all the life support facilities that keep XP alive. It's no wonder that they cannot see the value proposition of Vista (fancy desktop graphics?UAC?DRM?) specially given the cost of redoing all that work and purchasing fresh hardware.

    Microsoft is at its low. A couple of days ago a coworker expressed his frustration as he was facing his third XP reinstall this year. I suggested the KUbuntu solution and he's so fed up that we agreed to try it, after I assured him that we could roll back very quickly.

    Guess what happened? An hour after the installation I was touring the set of programs with him and people passing by the hall were looking at the screen and started to comment how fast and great Vista looked on an old machine!! When we corrected them, they were simpy amazed that one could get so much fun, security, stability and freedom out of some, by Microsoft standards, outdated hardware!

  22. Michael C

    Virus FUD

    The VM machine is firewalled off the the network. Virueses can not penetrate directly to it through common cracks and vulnerabilities.

    Yes it can read/write the Win7 home folders, but they should already have THEIR OWN virus scanning, so that's NO DIFFERENT than simply downloading something to your my docs folder.

    Any media inserted can be easily scanned by the host first, then configured to be mounted inside the guest, so again no worry.

    You should not ever be browsing the web with the XP instance since it's entire reason for being is ONLY for apps that can't work under windows 7. Yea, you might need IE6 for some ancient intranet sites, but if those sites are already scanned and clear by their own AV systems, again, safe...

    This is NOT a full blown VM to use in that manner. If you want an XP machine to use as a virtual machine, note that VPC supports "multiple instances of XP." Build one AND SECURE THAT ONE.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Again - a minority of 1, uno, jeden, ein, ...

    An OS with virtualization built in is a nonentity? Really?

    I hope MS get it right as I am sure fluidity between XP stuff and W7 stuff will appeal to large customers.

    This is on par with saying something like "OS 11 comes with VMWare built in" (or Parallels - one may make one's own choice or maybe even Apple do the trick and come up with something better?)

    An of course virtualization always takes up resources but I'd guess my humble Dell laptop with 4 GB RAM will have a solidly decent go at it.


  24. Kirk


    I figure if you want to have new toys you need to buy the new toy. Thats Microsofts problem in trying to be a do all. It's really simple. If you want to continue to use XP programs then keep XP but don't blame anybody when a developer writes a program that will only run on Windows 7.

    I find it stupid that they are even doing this VM thing with XP. One word "Upgrade* or stick with the old and out dated OS you've come to love. I love Vista, I will love Windows 7 even if i have to upgrade to enjoy all that it has to offer. New is good, New is fun. Life is about experience even if its a new shiny thing like Windows 7.

  25. Dick Emery


    ...anyone know if Cubase works on WIndows 7 for us muso types?

  26. Dex


    Works with Vista (Cubase SX3, Cubase Studio 4) so i so imagine it'll work with W7, will fire up my W7 partitiion over the weekend and report back

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Yeah, what he said

  28. Ben Woodward


    @Mark: You seem to be forgetting that the WIN in Wine stands for 'Wine Is Not'

    @Jaowon Windows 7 is version 6.1 actually.

  29. Codge
    Thumb Up

    @ bazza

    Thank you.

    That sums it up completely.

  30. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Still puzzled

    OK, so the technical specs are beginning to emerge and this virtual XP mode turns out to be nothing more than running a stock XP image (not even paravirtualised, don't they have the source anymore?) in a VM. Naturally it is Microsoft's VM, but really there's nothing here that customers couldn't have done on previous Win7 betas because VM s/w is freely available from several places.

    But ... my bemusement remains, because the message that this sends out loud and clear is that Microsoft no longer feel capable of maintaining backwards compatibility. For a decade or more, they've evolved a plethora of techniques for inserting old bugs into running applications on a new OS. Raymond Chen has blogged extensively on this and repeatedly made the point that the level of *integration* that this gives is much greater than simply running old apps in a VM because shims mean that the legacy code sees all the new applications' windows, the new computer's devices, and so on. Apparently Microsoft don't feel that those techniques will work anymore and the only way to keep the show on the road is the VM approach, long dismissed as a second rate user experience.

    That's a big change. Meanwhile, over in the world of netbooks, MS are still selling XP, so application writers will still have to target it. Give it a few years and the majority of *new* Windows applications will still run fine on anything XP-like (such as WINE) and the majority of *old* ones will be no less integrated on WINE then they are on the MS offering.

    So perhaps Microsoft know the game is up and even *they* are looking to migrate away from Windows. Presumably their game plan is to get everyone used to running Windows apps in an XP-like sandbox, and deliver a dramatically different kind of OS in the next couple of years, which does to Windows what Windows did to DOS in the late 80s.

    (Oh, and when I say dramatically different, I consider Linux and Windows to be essentially the same, late-60s, OS. Penguinistas will no doubt be choking on their fish at the comparison, but in the "concept space" of what an OS *could* be, and historically *has* been, Windows and Unix are really *very* similar. You can almost map the APIs onto each other 1 for 1.)

  31. James L
    Thumb Down


    Wrong. Windows 7 is 6.1 for reasons well documented on the web. Have a google.

  32. Brian Whittle


    will it allow me to run my canon printer with 32 bit XP drivers on 64 bit windows 7 ? If it does its a winner as far as I am concerned

  33. Martin Silver badge

    Almost as good as wIne then ?

    Could this finally be the year of the Windows desktop?

  34. Doug Glass

    "So? What's Your Point?"

    For the corporate world that lives under the constant threat of loss of OEM support, Windows 7 will likely be a "must do" upgrade. Basically the corps. have no choice; upgrade or lose what support they have from Microsoft at the level they perceive they require. "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours". As my former VP and boss once said, "Got to keep the OEM suppliers healthy".

    I've installed every iteration of Windows 7 to date and, frankly, each one is better than the last. But for me, and I'm a fairly typical home user type, there's just nothing there to make it worth the hassle and cost to upgrade. The Ultimate versions runs beautifully on my one "cybersaur" socket A machine and it's easily as fast and useful as XP. But what's the point? Windows 7 is like the now defunct home compactor which turned 25 pounds of garbage into 25 pounds of garbage. Upgrade to 7 from XP and you turn a computer that does all you want it to do into a computer that does all you want it to.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Last One down the rabbit hole is a dirty egg!

    You can tear my XP away from my dead cold fingers!

    Why do I need to buy more rubbish to emulate my XP?

    Maybe its me, but I really don't run much software outside of what I already have.

    Games are becoming a bore, its the same old franchises, nothing new, nothing really worth going wow about anymore.

    Maybe I should just by a game console and a Mac and leave the treadmill of MIcrosoft behind?

  36. Ian Ferguson

    Could be handy

    How's it compare with other virtualisation facilities, like VMWare?

    I run a fair number of bespoke applications in a virtual XP machine using VMWare, on a Vista machine. It integrates the GUIs very nicely and there's no noticable performance hit.

    The requirement for hardware virtualisation is unfortunate - at some point in the future we'll have to deploy either Vista or Win 7 across our business (well, to be honest, Win 7) and I thought XP Mode would solve our compatibility issues... but it doesn't look quite that simple.

    Oh and I hate to be an Apple fanboi but... OSX's support for legacy applications is so much more elegant!

  37. James
    Thumb Up

    @Bob Merkin

    At last, someone who seems to understand how difficult it is to preserve backwards compatibility.

    MS is really good at this, I can still run a Win95 app on XP. I work on an OS and everything is about maintaining backwards compatibility. It's a big deal

    When I see people complain about how long it takes for MS to release a patch it's clear these people haven't a clue about what's actually involved. Even buggy behaviour must be maintained if there are 3rd party apps that rely on it.

    Look at Linux - people complain about driver interfaces changing among releases

    Symbian has BC issues too that people whine about.

    We're not dealing with PHP scripts here, people! I'm absolutely sure that OS programmers would love the freedom to fix everything they know is broken, but they'd lose their customers before long.

  38. Pierre

    MS' greatest force

    C'mon, stop complaining. It's been MS' business model since the dawn of time (or at least NT): increasing the bloat and bothersomeness exponentially with each release, so as to make the previous one look almost efficient by comparison (and so as to keep OEM exclusivity: they love to sell brand new machines to the same customers every year). But hey, at least you get a whole set of new shiny icons! New is good, new is fun, new is shiny (and new is a god-awful money and time-hungry wormhole).

    Bah, at least this time they tried to keep some kind of limited backward compatibility, that's much better than usual. And they managed to make it almost half as good as the old, voluntarily-developped wine. Kudos.

    MS, the penguin laughs *at* you, not *with* you.

  39. drag

    XP Mode. Been there. Done that. Microsoft is catching up to 4 years ago.

    > The VM machine is firewalled off the the network. Virueses can not penetrate

    > directly to it through common cracks and vulnerabilities.

    Virus writers (the ones that actually do the writing, not the script kiddies that use them) are quite a bit more sophisticated then your typical application writers.

    They already have their Windows 7 ports ready to go. So, yeah, targetting the VM is a waste of time. It'll be much more effective and easier to target Windows 7 directly.

    Plus it does not sound like the XP VM will be standard on all Windows 7. It'll be a OEM option or whatever, which means it'll cost more or be only avialable for certain machines. So, again, trying to go after XP in a VM is silly since it'll be limiting the potential targets.


    > An OS with virtualization built in is a nonentity? Really?

    *shrug*. It's nothing special.

    Mac users have been happy using Parrellels for a long time now. It's not part of the OS, but they were the first ones to really use desktop oriented VMs in a very large manner. Sure there was Vmware, but that was mostly for developers and such. Parrellels on Mac concentrated on desktop integration.

    Every single Linux distribution shipping today has built-in virtualization technology that is much more sophisticated then any sort of Virtual PC happy crap. The kernel-level virtualization that Linux supports effectively turns the Linux kernel into a hypervisor. It's performance and feature set rivals any other full-virtualization solution out there... Xen, ESX, or Hyper-V.

    Actually with Hyper-V vs KVM I'd say that KVM is superior. For example it has the ability to do live migrations between machines (which is something that Microsoft says isn't really something customers want, which is complete horseshit). It can also migrate between IA64 and AMD64 machines, which is something that nobody else can do.

    It'll be displacing Xen as the premier Linux VM solution pretty soon. For example Redhat is using KVM for the basis of the virtualization features that are going to be shipping with Redhat 5.4.

    The only serious thing lacking is easy desktop integration, which is why Sun Microsystem's Virtualbox is more popular among the Ubuntu crowd.


    For my 'XP mode' on my Fedora desktop I use Virt-Manager to manage the hardware, samba, and remote desktop, for the integration. Rdesktop supports remote desktop protocol 5. Sound works. Copy-n-paste works, etc.

    I don't allow the XP VM to access my real desktop folder, althoug obviously I could if I wanted to. But I care about security, so instead I share out a couple folders form the XP installation which get automatically mounted to folders on my desktop.

    The CPU performance is very close to native. The Disk I/O is still using emulated hardware so the performance is average and would be on par with Virtual PC. The network performance is using paravirt drivers so that it's fast enough to comfortably running a full resolution XP desktop at full colors.

    Youtube works even, as does any music. Plays, looks, and sounds fine. Hulu videos cause it to choke a bit, unfortunately.

    But that is 'ok'. The native 64bit flash for Linux works fine. Bugs are mostly gone with recent versions.

  40. Stephen Gomez


    "That's called the WIN32 API, which Windows 7 already has, NATIVE, without the need for the "E" (as in Emulator)."

    Wine Is Not an Emulator

  41. Anonymous Coward


    "We've heard "You can have XP when you pry it from my cold dead fingers" from the Mac crowd years ago, only they substituted "OS9" for "XP"."

    Wolf they are mac users mate, no one ever listens to them, as they know less than nothing about computers Mostly graphic designers they can use a mac but cant read!


  42. quartzie

    Re: Still puzzled

    Hate to pee in your cornflakes, but you seem to be missing the point.

    Vast majority of applications written for XP will (should) work flawlessly under native Win32 support of Windows7. These applications, as well as tons of others, which are yet to be written, will NOT require the XPVM - as long as the authors maintain a modicum of sanity and do not use prehistoric APIs considered outdated even in Win2k.

    Point being, if M$ did their homework, most users, unlike the OS9-X transition, should never feel the need to run XPVM. Things are not changing as much as they did when Apple switched to X, WinXP's been around too long for that. Some legacy applications from the W9x and (god forbid) W3.x ages are still being used though; XPVM actually allows these applications an even longer transition period.

    Microsoft should be hailed for *finally* dropping a load of crap that shouldn't be in a modern operating system, while still allowing for optional compatibility. Hopefully they can still manage an OSX-like overhaul even if they have to do it in steps.

  43. Doug

    install Suse and then run the XP VM with a real host OS

    Novell is supposed to have partnered with Microsoft for virtual machine capability compatibility so Suse should be capable of running Microsofts XP VM. Unless they lied. So if it does, screw Windows 7 and just put Suse on there, run it as the host OS and then run the XP virtual machine in a full screen session or even on a 2nd monitor.

    do this and now the business has a host OS they can run for as long as THEY decide is needed and they have a much more responsive virtual machine setup and it looks and acts like XP instead of a half breed mix of and old OS ontop of a patch of a crappy OS( Vista SP3 ). And the other thing is, you only need one antivirus kit and all the apps for XP you already own. If you go with the Windows 7/XP VM bucket, you have to get Windows 7/Vista versions of stuff. There's also no mention of what it's like using MS Office 2000 in XP VM, having the document show up in Windows 7's Documents folder, and then opening that in MS Office Win7. Won't it convert it to the later file format and now not work in MS Word 2000 in the XP VM? Can't wait to see people wondering what's going on and figuring it's more computer magic and voodoo going on.

    And I was surprised there was no mention of VMware Fusion with its Unity display mode. That's where the virtual machine applications run seamless on the host desktop.

  44. Paul
    Thumb Up

    those poor wintards...

    Fancy have to use a interface equivalent to Mac OS 7 ;)

  45. Anonymous Coward


    So do your Windows 95 drivers work in Vista? No? Oh dear. Looks like Microsoft also have been changing the driver interface.

  46. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    MS, please, think long and hard about this!

    I was always under the suspicion that MS was always worried about ensuing business customers do not defect and this half-arsed attempt is the proof.

    The reason my shop and many others did not want Vista was that a load of our old apps did not work quite correctly, so we simply cut our loses, moved form W2K to XP. We like many companies had offers from MS to come in for free and help us make our apps work with big V, but we turned it down, just couldn't afford the time.

    With Linux slowly creeping into server rooms and Apple starting to make people, those prepared to spend a little more, think about alternatives, this kludge proves that MS is determined to not lose one single customer to any other market, even if this proves to be MS's cross even bigger.

    MS have had it easy for the last 15 years, no really serious contenders in that "PC" market, but now with all the need for standard interoperation, they are starting to suffer for their sad dedication to maintaining compatibility back to Win30.

    MS please, I say this as a dedicated Mac/Ubuntu user, think about the rock you are making for your back. Yes both Apple and Linux are not very big threats at the moment, but history has many examples of complacency leaving the door open to the underdog to come in and take over!

  47. Wolf

    @Ian Fergusson

    "Oh and I hate to be an Apple fanboi but... OSX's support for legacy applications is so much more elegant!"

    Leopard supports OS9 applications? Cool!

    No, wait...

    In case you've been buried in Steve's RDF for the last decade, Win 7 runs 99.99% of XP applications. For those tiny majority that broke the rules you get a full blown XP to play with--for that application.

    All of your other stuff runs *native*. No emulation, real live native execution. No WINE, no VM needed.

    This is just for that tiny minority of garbage programs that non-the-less are critical to your continued existence.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope ...

    ... that W7 will yet take onboard the importance of Mac's Spaces, 'nix desktops ...

    I find that running a virtual machine really benefits from having a Space (or desktop) of its own.

    That way it is easy to flit between stuff set up as one wishes (covering several applications) yet having at the same time the onscreen layout one is comfortable with yet without having to trawl through open apps to find the correct combination.

    But equally I accept that the above may be my own preference not applicable or extendable to the many,

  49. Trokair

    A Good Idea...

    But not enough to sell me a new OS. Add actual functionality and I'll give it a go. Until then you can keep your shiny new paint job, I've got better things to throw my money at (besides the 15 different versions of an OS. You already developed it, just sell Ultimatepremiumfanf&%$ingtastic Edition and get over yourself).

  50. Neil


    I think people are missing the point on this. For a start how many of your applications aren't compatible with Windows 7 in native mode? Not that many at all.

    XP Mode is really there to draw a line under 32bit Windows and legacy code. It gives Windows 8 the ability to jettison all the old code and cater for backwards compatability through virtualisation and move on to a leaner code base.

    I can't see why you would bitch about this, it's the best new feature to appear in Windows for years.

  51. Eddie

    @I hope...

    Virtual desktops have been available for Windows since the first powertoys for Win95 came out

  52. Peter Mc Aulay

    Booby prize

    So we get Zombie XP in the form of a VM in Windows 7. Yippee, we are all saved, etc. What rubbish.

    Remember what everyone was calling XP when it just came out. Fischer-Price Windows. Teletubby Windows. Nothing was viler, everyone was swearing they would never use it and defect en masse to MacOS or Linux, or stick with Win2K.

    No, XP is not better than Windows 7 or even Vista (ok, maybe better than Vista). XP is also shit.

    Microsoft's greatest triumph is that they have continually managed to lower everyone's expectations so much about what good software is like that every time they come out with a new OS a) it's rubbished by the geeks while b) the old OS is praised for its greatness. The very same OS that was shit 8 years ago does not magically turn into a shining white prince just because the new shit is worse than the old shit.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    The Win32 API isn't the native API

    Mark: no, the WIN32 API isn't the native API. It's a wrapper around the NT APIs, which are the actual native API of Windows these days.

  54. Highlander
    Thumb Down

    Color me unimpressed

    Has it taken a decade to come so far that we view something that is little more than WoW a la Windows NT?

    When Windows NT first arrived on the scene the OS virtualized the hardware and ran DOS and Windows 3.x applications in a VDM running on a humble 386/486.

    It worked pretty well, and even the thunking from 16 to 32bit calls didn't kill performance. Somewhere along the way Windows NT (aka Win 2000, win XP and Vista) seemingly lost this WoW/VDM capability and now we have virtual PC and Windows XP mode. Oh, but it doesn';t work on any old CPU you have to have a brand spanking new one with lots of RAM.

    Am I the only one left wondering why it is that it has taken more than a decade and hardware that's literally a thousand times more capable than was available when Windows NT launched to repeat the same trick that Windows NT was able to pull off? And even with all that, it seems it's still in need of more work to make it ready for prime-time.

    One word. Pathetic.

  55. Mage Silver badge

    XP on Win7?


    Why bother

  56. Christopher Rogers


    Windows 7 runs perfectly on my AMD athlon XP with 1 gig of ram. so for all the crying about obscure apps, the OS is solid.

    So for alot of you, dry your eyes.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    My Real "VM"

    I've my shiny new Linux box on 2 monitors to the right, and an old XP machine on 2 monitors to the left.

    Use Synergy to share mouse / keyboard / clipboard between both. Have a shared space on an HD attached to the XP box with Linux box having access to this cifs mount via fstab, for sharing files etc.

    Works a treat. XP boxes, even old laptops are good and cheap now. Can run those awkward Windows apps (test case DB, Word/Excel 2007 for docX / xlsX files people insist on emailing, IE for some intranet server functionality) at full speed without a performance hit on my Linux box!

  58. Shane Menshik
    Thumb Down

    I do this already ;)

    I do this already with Ubuntu.. So why the hell would I want to pay more for Windows 7 and get a performance / feature downgrade...

  59. Brian Whittle

    it seems fine here

    Installed without any tweaks. It only gave it self 256MB which is a bit odd.

    It runs a bit sluggishly but is usable

    Enables me to use a printer that has no 64 bit drivers (lazy Canon)

    Windows 7 works well but remember to use these features you will have to lash out for the Business Version or if you want the Media Center the Ultimate version. Unless they change the Pricing from Vista you will be paying at least £110 as the exchange rete has stitched up the UK in this matter

  60. Tony Paulazzo
    Thumb Up

    @ Mage

    >XP on Win7


    Why bother<

    Because, if, like me, you have one program (a really great art program (still not surpassed) with a 16 bit installer and company now out of business), a new PC build and requirement for an OS, then it's great.

    Windows7 install is a dream, the first time I've not had to use the MB cd to install drivers, and my ancient - but much loved, SB Audigy2 also worked immediately.

    It's far more responsive than Vista and, touch wood, not had a crash since install, but early days yet. It's network support is far more intuitive than XP (ie, it just works), and copying files from PC to laptop to wirelessly connected PC upstairs is blindingly fast, to the point where I trust it enough to actually stream a video across it (across it, over it?).

    Mind you, its sleep function seems buggered - tell the PC to sleep, it closes down then boots straight back up, but that might be my wireless logitech mouse - not really tested that out yet, as booting from cold is so fast.

    So, colour me impressed, (still don't like Ballmer tho' he's like a slimy used car salesman), come back bill, much is forgiven.

  61. Jesse Dorland

    Why Windows XP is popular

    @The irony is that all this makes XP look good

    You need to understand the history of operating system before you make such a statement. Windows XP came around 2000. At the time main operating system was Windows 98/95. Windows 2000 & Windows ME also came around the same year. Of course Windows ME was considered the worst operating system, and Windows 2000 was good for business market – it was not able to run most of the multimedia applications & devices.

    When Windows XP came into the market, it brought the stability of NT, and comfort of 9x operating system. Also, it consumed far less recourses then 9X, and at the same time it kept of operating system running for as long as you please. Most of us did not experience so many blue-screen, or freezes. Now without a doubt Windows XP has/had more problems then other OS; say Linux, and OSX, but it was lot better their previous OS & current OS including Windows Vista & 7.

    It is ironic to note that it was around the same year I move to Linux operating sytem, and I still use it as my main computer – Sony Vaio laptop. However, I am happy to type this response on a netbook running on Windows XP.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Apps Supporting Windows XP

    Well, we've only recently (within the last year) stopped supporting Windows 98 with our product! Just what universe to you live in to assume all developers just bin previous versions of Windows at the drop of a hat? Windows 7 isn't even released (as in non-beta) yet! A tiny percentage of our customers use Vista and our project manager wasn't exactly thrilled to have to do extra work to make sure our code ran on it!

    Either you have proper backwards compatibility (leading to moutains of horrible shims), or you start afresh and offer proper emulation to allow people to catch up. It's also advisable to offer advantages to using the new system, particularly in the area of increased performance, reliability and security. What you don't do is offer no advantages, a slower system and poorer reliability.

    I think Microsoft really has lost the plot. Around 2000 seems to have been the peak: Windows 2000, SQL Server 2000 etc. After that things have just got more bloated and less reliable. Visual Studio is a bloated abomination now.

    Microsoft is the new IBM. Enough said.

  63. Jeff


    Hate to sound like a fanboy, but I've been doing virtualized XP on Linux for YEARS. With VirtualBox. And SeamlessRDP, so my Windows apps look like they are just running on Linux.

    Microsoft does it for backward compatibility in a half ass'd fashion, and only including it with their top-tier (ie: most expensive) products and it's suddenly the Greatest Thing(tm) since sliced bread?

    Linux - Free

    VirtualBox - Free

    Reliability factor: Unbelievable. And just as fast.

    How often I use it: Rarely. But if I had that one app that had to run on Windows XP, I can.

    Microsoft has jumped the shark. They release Windows just because they have nothing else worth doing. And Windows is fast becoming not worth the effort. Since W2k, their product has steadily gone to hell.

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