Posted by: Tony Bradley
applications, drivers, legacy, Windows 7, Windows Virtual PC, Windows XP, XP Mode
Windows 7 is far better than Windows Vista was in terms of driver and application compatibility available when the operating system launched, but many users may still run into issues. Microsoft developed XP Mode virtualiation to bridge the gap and make transitioning easier.
On the one hand, most Windows Vista compatible hardware and software will work just fine under Windows 7, so vendors have basically had a couple years to catch up. On the other hand, nearly 3 out 4 users have stuck with Windows XP and may have legacy hardware and software that hasn’t been updated in years.
I haven’t run into any applications or peripherals I use that require the legacy XP environment, but I do frequently need to test things out or look at an XP system for comparison sake when writing. So, I installed XP Mode.
I also installed Windows Virtual PC and built my own virtual environment running Windows Vista. Both virtual systems work, but Microsoft hit a homerun with XP Mode. You install it and it just works–fast. It boots fast, runs pretty snappy in the virtual environment, hibernates quickly. It seamlessly provides access to the drives in the host Windows 7 system, and connects to the Internet.
I have only one complaint about Windows 7 XP Mode virtualization–but its not a complaint for me. My issue is that Microsoft has only made it available for users who have the Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise versions of Windows 7. There are millions of consumers out there running Windows XP who will go to Best Buy or purchase a system from Dell that will come pre-configured with Windows Home Premium by default. Those consumers will not have the advantage of being able to use XP Mode as a stepping stone to extend the life of legacy hardware and software while making the switch.