back to article Windows XP Mode digs deeper into Windows 7

Microsoft has released polished code for desktop virtualization software to run legacy Windows XP applications on machines loaded with Windows 7. The company plans to make Windows XP Mode available as a release candidate for testing, with finished product due at the time of the Windows 7 launch on October 22. Changes to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    And why didn't they just do XP right?

    But, nooooooo. That would have been waaaaay too easy.

    She knows what easy is all about.

  2. Rob 30

    why bother upgrading from xp?

    i'm still not sure if it's worth upgrading, is win7 going to be that much faster than winXP does anyone know?

    the only feature i'd like is dx10, but if my apps don't actually run faster it would seem liek a step backwards..

    i'm open to being convinced if anyone knows of any compelling reasons to upgrade?

  3. Martin 6 Silver badge

    between one and 25 PCs

    >Windows XP Mode has been designed for small and mid-market customers, defined as

    >running between one and 25 PCs

    I understand how you can design it for at least one PC - the design for those running less than one PC is a bit tricky.

    But how exactly is the code designed for only for those running upto 25 PCs? Is there a call in Win32, getNumberOfMachinesInCompany() that I'm missing out on?

    Does virtualisation not work if I own 26PCs?

  4. jim 45

    Grea, more bloat...

    ... that would further increase boot time on my netbook, where I run nothing but a web browser.

    All of Microsoft's effort seems to be focused on cracking the corporate upgrade nut.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    "with the right hardware".

    It means "with s*load of memory, on the fastest processor money can buy." Yes, if you want to run XP *inside* Win7 instead of dual booting into XP, you will need "the right hardware". Or a server with *spare* of everything.

    I wonder how fast Win XP will run from inside Win 7, instead of running it directly into the metal.

  6. woodmans


    so where's my vista emulation then?

  7. MrJP

    Didn't HP...

    promise to optimise all their new machines for Vista, and that optimisation went as far as and included putting a 'Windows Vista compatible' sticker on, then getting rollocked for essentially lying and selling mis-advertised products? Or am I wrong?

  8. Peter 39


    I guess they have to call it "Windows XP Mode" rather than "Classic" because Apple already has a trademark for that sort of thing on Mac OS X (or maybe licensed it from Coke).

    I'm sure it will become colloquially known as Classic though

  9. Jerome 0

    @First post

    They did do XP right. The question should be: why is anyone interested in "upgrading"?

  10. Anonymous Coward 3

    Wrong hardware again!

    "Woodgate said the company also "felt pretty good" about performance of Windows XP Mode on new PCs and old systems "with the right hardware"."

    So if it doesn't work we have the wrong hardware. Again. Just like Vista.

  11. Medium Dave

    Oh, FFS.

    Good old MS. It used to be that you only had to fork out for upgrades every time they released a new bit of software, but now they're making you upgrade for something you've been using for nearly a decade.

    Pure genius.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Remind me again why we need to upgrade?

    After Vista, Windows 7 will probably be better, but for those of us who have XP, there needs to be some compelling reason to upgrade. XP Mode is unfortunately a hack like DOS mode in Windows NT.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    XP Mode? Why not just XP?

    Nothing I run is built for Vista or Win7, much of my expensive software will not run in Vista or Win 7, and all of my corporate clients are standardized on XP. I have been running the Win7 beta for several months and see no advantage to it and some definite disadvantages. Now MS is adding improved XP support. I can run XP in a virtual window under Linux and it works quite well. MS is making it easier to switch to Linux than to Win7. This is getting silly.

  14. charlie wallace

    NO_TS bit

    Problem is with some software that doesn't run on 7, it won't run on the virtual XP either because it thinks its in a terminal server and isn't licensed for it.

  15. Dave Bell

    How much is down to XP?

    If they get it right, this could be a decent solution to any problems, but how much of the problem is down to apps depending on XP (and maybe doing daft things such as testing for equality to a version number of a DLL), and how much reluctance to upgrade is down to reliance on the older versions of Internet Explorer?

    I've a lot of sympathy with the reluctance to upgrade. It costs money. Right now, I'm tracking how the new version of a program I use, a lot, works with WINE. It's looking good. But do I have enough RAM? However I do it, I may have to move to 64-bit, just to have enough RAM usable to handle the program and the datasets it works with.

  16. kain preacher

    @And why didn't they just do XP right?

    They didn't want to break compatibility . Look what happened when the secured the kernel in VIsta. Anti virus people pitched a fit. If MS had left it to so that only they could put their hooks into the kernal, the EU would said monopoly.

  17. sandman

    Pretty right

    I'm afraid that's Microsoft's problem, XP is pretty good now, so good that most corporates (mine included) are still running it and it'll take a lot to shift them. We also run a lot of XP virtual machines on our XP OS, so I wonder how running a VMWare XP virtual machine on an XP VM running on Windows 7 is going to pan out...

  18. Mike Gravgaard

    .... and after Windows 7

    So let me get this right, Microsoft make a virtual machine environment to run Windows XP apps - OK but what happens after Windows 7.

    I mean we all know that Microsoft and some 3rd party apps don't work and require bodging to get working - I just get this feeling of applications having to run under a VM in years to come for all those unsupported VM envoirment and unsupportable apps.

    Why don't Microsoft just make their apps run in a language similar to Java - i.e a good virtualised based/virtualisable run time envoirmental

    If I remember correctly Apple has done this a few times in the past - switch from 68k to PowerPC and switch from PowerPC to Intel processors also I think they did it for OS 9 compability.

    I guess I'm just highly cynical about Microsoft but I just get a feeling it will screw it all up in the end.

    Actually whilst we are talking about Microsoft, I think I can think of their new moto:-


    What were you doing yesterday? 'cause today you'll be doing it all again!!!

    I do wonder if they ever learn though...


  19. Steven Hunter


    "so where's my vista emulation then?"

    Bang head against wall until unconscious. Repeat as needed.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    VBox and Linux good enough to run XP ta

    Every hacker under the Sun (excuse the pun) will be looking to use XP mode as a way to root W7 so I'll give it a big swerve thanks.

    PS Ballmer is not getting my cash to expand his already copious waistline.

  21. Eric Dennis


    Windows 7 and it's XP mode are nothing more than Microsoft, Intel, and other's attempts to reinvigorate a recession dragging economy where people simply don't see the value in replacing computers that are working just fine right now and are running XP. I don't buy a new computer every time Microsoft introduces a new OS. Most people don't. Where I work, no one is running Vista. XP is still in play. No one is going to rush to replace working PC's with new ones running Windows 7. I don't need that support nightmare.

  22. Paul 128

    Sad that MS obviously don't know how to do this right.

    I run XP in virtualisation - using Parallels on a black macbook under OSX. Core 2 duo, 2GB of memory, nothing special these days; PC world is selling machines with better specs for 400 quid. So why, when I can happily run virtualised XP, several Win apps and a handful of Mac apps all together on a midrange machine - and get better performance out of XP than I had on my old laptop running it native - can MS not get XP to run without shedloads of resources in virtualisation under their own flagship operating system? Come to that, why bother with Windows 7 at all?

  23. jim 45

    I do want to upgrade, but...

    .... it would have to be better than XP. And by better, I mean it boots 3x faster and uses less RAM.

    Not gonna happen, is it?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Why are people so daft?

    Win 7 boot times incresed by running virtual Win XP?

    Are you plain stupid or did you forget to turn your brain on today?

    You load Win 7 as normal, boot times are comparable to XP if not better.

    you then can do one of two things, 1st option is to run the full win XP environment, which lets you use old hardware and software, and yes if your running a 64 bit Win 7 it will let you use 32 bit hardware in Win 7 XP mode, that is a huge plus point as you can get the best of both worlds and is something Linux folk probably cant do because driver support is flaky there anyway.

    option 2, this is where business running on old incompatable software will jump up an down about, you install the app in win XP mode and its available on the Win 7 program menu, clicking on it will load the app as if you ran it native, its also smart enough to work out folders and drives

    it works well, is fairly quick for what people will need it for, and if anyone wants to mention anything about 3D graphics dont, as with all VM software it wont work, but thats not the point of XP Mode

    As for why would you upgrade, well here is the answer and one shor sighted admins will soon find out. you can stay with your windows XP, go for it, after all it is still very good just now, but when your CEO suddenly wants a new piece of hardware he has at home that isnt XP supported or your in house design team needs to change to newer software, you will soon find the upgrade cost is significantly higher, Case proven with Windows 7 not supporting direct upgrade from XP.

    I know companies that are still using NT4, after all it works so why change it huh? well now they are screwed because the cost to change everything is now to great so they cant, and day by day complaints stack up because something isnt working as it "should" so yeah, save the cash in the short run, but it will only increase the cost of upgrading in the future, and there will come a point where that will happen.

  25. bex

    works well if a bit sluggish

    I have a canon laser printer they could not be bothered to write a 64 bit driver for (I am blaming canon here) ( I still have a stock of toners for it if anyone was wondering)

    As I want the 64 bit version of windows which truly does rock btw the only way I can get it to work is with the XP virtualisation which works fine after I tweaked the settings

  26. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Gates Halo

    Windows 7 is looking pretty good.

    It runs just as fast as XP in a VM on my MacBook Pro and in the interface is a lot cleaner than XP and Vista. The typefaces have got a lot better and it's surprising what a difference that makes.

    I think a lot of people will move to 7 and be very happy with it and not notice that XP is running as an emulation. Corporates are a completely different matter but then they took ages to go from Windows 2000 to XP and none of the ones I know have touched Vista. XP + Office 2003 and a better browser than IE 6 seems to be the base line for a corporate machine.

  27. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Bet you

    £0.05 that 99.9% of all windows 7 installations end up running in win xp mode all the time

    Come on m$ why not just carry on selling XP and just issuing service packs for those who want DX10 or pretty eye candy

    Oh well, guess Linux will start making inroads now

    <management bod> hmmm pay m$ £200 per machine to run our legancy win xp applications on a new PC or use Linux and virtualization and pay £0

  28. John Freeman

    Peanut Gallery Run Amok

    Sheesh, most of you lemmings are trashing Vista without having given it a chance. All of the issues of its initial release have been ironed out and the O/S is stable. How quickly we forget that XP had the same problems on its initial release. You all let the propaganda of the press sway your vote without being fair. I do realize alot of the critics are Apple/Linux Nazi's (some under the guise of Windows users) who wouldn't be fair if their lives depended on it but aside from that the only possible way you would still have problems with Vista is if you were running it on 486, DX optional.

  29. jim 45

    prehistoric penguin

    "Oh well, guess Linux will start making inroads now."

    Well, no, I don't think so. No matter how badly MS stumbles, Linux remains the same old glom of incomprehensible 70s-era configuration madness... with a single-digit slice of the pie.

  30. Player_16
    Jobs Halo

    @ Peter 39

    It should work. MS will make a sticker that will say W7 compatible or an XP icon to keep it running in the background. When you click on an older program icon, a window pops up:

    'This program can only operate in OS XP SP 2. - Start XP? .. Yes or No.'

  31. Anonymous Coward


    I have some sympathy for MS ( not much mind you! ), they are in business to make money and that means the shareholders come first and all must be sacrificed for the business customer. This is a nice concession to the cash-strapped business customers, who may otherwise not be interested in Windows 7.

    Somehow this seems like they are making another big rock for their back.

    Why not do an Apple, tell the world they have 2 years to dump old style stuff and that backwards compatibility will be drop in the next version, then they can really make Windows 7, which is a good O/S even better!

    ( I don't give a monkey's either way, I run Mac and Linux, I've already condemned myself to a life in puragtory! )

  32. Anonymous Coward

    "new hardware ... that isnt XP supported"

    "when your CEO suddenly wants a new piece of hardware he has at home that isnt XP supported "

    Wake up, that's not gonna happen.

    Any company that is foolish enough to release a product that is Windows 7 *only* is restricting themselves to a tiny proportion of the market for the foreseeable future, therefore "Windows 7 Only" products will be as common as rocking horse poo. Even MS know this, which is why there's so much fuss about "XP mode".

    "<management bod> hmmm pay m$ £200 per machine to run our legancy win xp applications on a new PC or use Linux and virtualization and pay £0"

    That's a tricky one for the legacy IT department and their mates at the tinshifters, AV suppliers, etc, isn't it? The smarter than average MD says to his CIO "times are hard, justify the money you want me to spend on you, show me real business benefit, or I will find another outsourcer who does know how to do the job without the unnecessary costs (of staying stuck on the permanent Wintel upgrade treadmill)". Interesting.

  33. multipharious

    Windows 7 with XP enables the transition

    What is most important for me on my work machine is that I can install and run EVERYTHING including the legacy apps my job requires, and this is possible. My personal opinion is they got it right here folks.

    I have been running both my main home machine and my production laptop with Windows 7 64-bit since RC. I have the 32-bit version on my netbook. I am very happy with a lot of the details in Windows 7, and the boot to usable desktop is ca. 45 seconds on 64-bit machines with the netbook squeaking in a bit faster. Returning to XP for me would be like going back to Office 2000 in the sense that yes it does everything, but why do I have to suffer the old interface. It is simply not an option. Using Windows 7 as a production machine is where you will notice the advantage. The new toolbar with its grouping was enough for me, and I estimate it saves me a good bit of time per day. There are other serious advantages in the new system that you will discover very quickly with a week or two of use. Virtual XP mode with the amount of testing that I have done did not have the glitches that were experienced in the Register review but the version I am using is later.

  34. Randalf


    Anything can work pretty well "with the right hardware". Yes, including OSX.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    So much ignorance in one comment section....

    >But how exactly is the code designed for only for those running upto 25 PCs? Is there a call in >Win32, getNumberOfMachinesInCompany() that I'm missing out on?

    >Does virtualisation not work if I own 26PCs?

    Of course it works, it's a question of how easy it is to centrally manage in an enterprise environment. Other products might be better suited to large-scale deployments.

    >... that would further increase boot time on my netbook, where I run nothing but a web browser.

    It's an _optional_ add-on. If you just run a browser, don't install it. :rolleyes:

    >XP Mode is unfortunately a hack like DOS mode in Windows NT.

    No, it's absolutely nothing like DOS mode in Windows NT.

  36. IanS

    Virtualisation in Linux aint free!

    Can I please point out to anyone that thinks otherwise, that running XP under Linux requires a LICENSE for XP! What MS is offering is a free solution when you upgrade, no extra "hidden" costs involved as you essentially get a license included. (Albeit you will have the expense of buying a new PC maybe, but surely machines have to be replaced at some point??!!)

    No matter what all you fan boys of Linux think, it's still nowhere near been a true replacement to Windows in the business environment, it's getting there don't get me wrong, I like Linux, and use to myself out of the office but would not yet would I consider deploying it as a replacement to Windows.

    Also for all you XP lovers, you're running a 7 year old operating system which has been patched to the hilt, are you telling me you were still running Windows 3.1 in 99??!! Win7 isn't perfect but it's a hell of a lot better than XP and doesn't have all the sluggishness of Vista, so surely it's worth a try?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Peanut Gallery Run Amok

    /me goes to network drive, deletes a file, goes to get a coffee, goes to say hello to some people, gets another coffee...

  38. MinionZero

    Forced obsolescence...

    Other than Microsoft's refusal to put Dx10 on XP, I can't see what Win 7 gives us that is any major benefit. MS and their online fan base are raving about how great Win 7 is but it all sounds like a grassroots marketing spin to rebrand Vista into Win 7 and no actual real benefits.

    Microsoft are actively forcing obsolescence on people to force people to pay again. Rather than supporting and building on XP to give people new applications, they are reinventing the OS wheel as its more profitable to them. But thats not a reason to upgrade.

  39. b166er

    Ah but IanS

    If you moved to Linux with virtualisation, you would already have the license from the version you just replaced, theoretically.

    Reg, what's up with the spell checker and virtualisation / virtualization?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Of course it's free to run XP under VirtualBox on Linux. Well, almost free.

    You already have an XP license, no need to buy a new one.

    If you are using VirtualBox in a commercial capacity, you will need to license; but otherwise it is free.

    And the license for VirtualBox is a lot let than the upgrade from XP to Windows 7.

  41. George 24

    If only

    If only Linux was ready or Mac, but the matter of fact is that for the vast majority of corporate users, the ONLY choice is M$ windows. How many business software suites are MSSQL and Win2k3 and Windows XP or Vista? A lot, that is for sure. I hear the Oracle and MySQL guys screaming that their product of choice is better or cheaper. The fact is that a lot of developers do not support them.

    I think that M$ has got it right with W7. It is the next XP. It runs just a fast as XP, boots faster than XP or Ubuntu. It is stable and runs most XP applications. In the corporate world, there are those apps the are designed for XP only and being able to run these in a full XP environment, without having to pay for the extra license is a good thing.

    As much as it displeases me to admit, the XP mode will be a pivotal point in the earlier adoption of W7 in the corporate world. Once it is in that world, then goodbye trusted old XP..

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Win 7 business case?

    No matter how hard I try I can't make a business case for Windows 7.0. I can make a case for Linux and some workstations running virtual machines hosting a Microsoft O/S (not necessarily WIn 7) for applications which have no equivalent, but those really are few and far between.

    As for the drivers under Linux.. only a few printer companies are still stupid enough to ignore the rapidly expanding Linux user-base, and those I have contacted report that drivers are being readied; they support the Mac (basically Free BSD) so it is not a huge step to support Linux. Other drivers with little support are WinModems... IMHO something that should be going the way of the Do-Do.

    So, you're a small to medium sized business... 10 to 300 desktops? A linux roll-out is not a big deal, vitrualize Win XP on those stations that run apps for which there is no Linux equal (a number that is getting smaller each quarter) , and reduce your IT costs going forward.

  43. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  44. Anonymous Coward

    @Jerome 0 - @First Post

    No, if they had wanted to do XP right they would have done the following:

    Nobody but Windows puts stuff in the Windows folder.

    Applications must get permission to install - can only install in c:\program files and own folder.

    Nobody is allowed to install hidden files or rootkits.

    Applications must get permission to execute first time (and can be extended).

    Applications must get permission to access internet first time (and can be extended)

    Applications must only execute in their own memory space.

    Registry not needed by windows or applications. Apps go back to using .ini files if they want.

    Drop the DRM

    Standardize interfaces for hardware (video, sound, etc.).

    A proper file manager (not explorer anything)

    A proper job manager (not msconfig or pitiful task manager).

    and so on and so forth.....yeah, they COULD HAVE.

  45. cjmUK

    Rose-tinted Spectacles?

    Why would anyone expect Vista/Win7 to be faster than XP? I remember the same nonsense in 2001 when everyone complained that XP was slower than Win2K and Win98. Doh!

    Every successive Windows OS will get slower, simply because they are designed to be more sophisticated each time, and not faster and faster.

    If you are stuck with XP-era hardware, by all means stick with XP. If you have modern hardware (>2006), Vista and Win7 run great - certainly a lot better than XP did on my Athlons and P4s in 2001.

    And there also seems to a whole raft of people passing comment on the failings of Win7 without having even tried the RC (which was the most stable and functional RC I've ever seen).

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