Microsoft delivers near-final test build of Windows 7 XP Mode

Microsoft delivers near-final test build of Windows 7 XP Mode

Summary: On August 4, Microsoft is making available to any and all interested testers the Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows 7's XP Mode add-on. The bits are available for download now from Microsoft's Web site.

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On August 4, Microsoft is making available to any and all interested testers the Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows 7's XP Mode add-on.

XP Mode is aimed primarily at small/mid-size business users (SMBs), and is designed to allow them to run legacy Windows XP applications on Windows 7 using virtualization technologies.

The release candidate of XP Mode will work on the Windows 7 Release Candidate and the final Windows 7 RTM bits. The XP Mode RC is avaiable for download from Microsoft's Web site and consists of two components: A 5 MB Virtual PC file and a 450 MB copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The final version of XP Mode will be available to Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate users on or around October 22, the day that Microsoft plans to make Windows 7 generally available. XP Mode, unlike some of Microsoft's other virtualization offerings, does not require users to have a Software Assurance (SA) annuity license in order to get the bits.

Microsoft released the beta of XP Mode in April of this year. Since that time, the company has made a few tweaks to the XP Mode product. According to Scott Woodgate, Director of Windows Enterprise and Virtualization Strategy, these tweaks include:

  • A new and simpler way of adding and accessing devices, like printers and USB sticks, from XP Mode. Microsoft has removed a number of the steps required to add these devices. With the RC, they'll be able to add them by right clicking on the Windows 7 icon.
  • A new way of enabling and disabling file sharing between Windows 7 and XP Mode. With the RC, Microsoft has more clearly delineated which files are where and made the process of sharing them simpler and more explicit.
  • The inclusion of a virtualization tutorial, which will run while XP Mode is installing. Microsoft realized that many XP Mode users are new to virtualization and decided to embed the tutorial, starting with the RC, directly in the product to acquaint them with how it works.
  • Tighter integration with Windows 7. With the RC, users will be able to add applications from their Windows 7 Jump Lists.
  • Better support for shared PCs. As of the RC, XP Mode will allow different users to store their Windows apps in different locations.

"We don't expect XP Mode to be deployed on every Windows 7 PC," said Woodgate. "Should users run every (legacy) application they  have in XP Mode? The answer is no."

Woodgate described the XP Mode add-on as a "last-mile compatibility solution" that is designed for use when Microsoft's Application Compatibility Toolkit and other means don't result in older apps working on Windows 7.

Microsoft is working with various hardware makers, some of which will be bundling XP Mode on new Windows 7 PCs later this year. As of October 22, however, users who want Windows 7 XP Mode right away will be able to download it from Microsoft, Woodgate said.

In other virtualization news, Microsoft has released the beta of version 4.6 of App-V, one of its application virtualization technology for business users who have Software Assurance contracts. App-V, which is based on the Softricity technology Microsoft acquired a couple of years ago, allows for application streaming via virtualization.  The 4.6 App-V release is the first that will support the streaming of 64-bit apps and seems to be the technology that is underlying the Office 2010 Click-to-Run beta.

Update: A few readers have asked about Microsoft's pricing plans for XP Mode. This is what the company is telling users, via a company spokesperson:

"Customers purchasing the Pro/Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs will get access to Windows XP Mode as part of their purchase.

"If someone has a valid license of XP to run in VMs, then they can just use that license instead of Windows XP mode.  We do provide a RAIL QFE for Windows XP SP3 to have the integration features with Windows Virtual PC. (RAIL QFE are the integration components required for XP and Vista virtual machines to run corresponding apps on the Win7 desktop.  XP Mode already has the RAIL QFEs installed and Win7 has them natively.)"

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Virtualization

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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38 comments
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  • Amazing Stuff

    Well done microsoft.
    Bozzer
  • RE: Microsoft delivers near-final test build of Windows 7 XP Mode

    I'm unclear about the use of this on other editions of Win7, such as Home Premium. Is it only the XP Mode part of the new VirtualPC that won't work on other editions? Or is it the whole thing (meaning we're stuck with VPC2007)? Or would XP Mode work if you "bring your own" XP?
    rseiler
    • I believe Windows Virtual PC will be free

      From what it looks like the Windows Virtual PC will be a free download for any version of Windows while the XP Mode will be exclusive to the Pro and Ultimate versions of Win 7.

      At least that is my hope.
      mikefarinha
      • Pricing

        Hi. Just updated my post with the pricing info from MS for XP Mode. Here's what they are saying, via a corporate spokesperson:

        "Regarding all up Windows 7 pricing - customers purchasing the Pro/Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs will get access to Windows XP Mode as part of their purchase.

        "If someone has a valid license of XP to run in VMs, then they can just use that license instead of Windows XP mode. We do provide a RAIL QFE for Windows XP SP3 to have the integration features with Windows Virtual PC. (RAIL QFE are the integration components required for XP and Vista virtual machines to run corresponding apps on the Win7 desktop. XP Mode already has the RAIL QFEs installed and Win7 has them natively.)"

        Hope that helps (a bit). MJ
        Mary Jo Foley
        • re: Pricing

          So correct me if I'm wrong, but when MS says that XP Mode is "available for Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate users," what they really mean is that those users are licensed to run XP Mode, BUT that those with other editions of Win7 who happen to have an XP license already can also enable and use XP Mode. In fact, Win7 apparently has these integration components built in.

          That must be what these are then (to enable the capability with XP and Vista VMs respectively):
          http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=e5433d88-685f-4036-b435-570ff53598cd

          http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=26a2de17-8355-4e8d-8f33-9211e48651fb
          rseiler
          • There are two components here

            rseiler,

            There are two components that are required to get XP mode to work.

            1. Windows Virtual PC
            2. XP Mode

            Windows Virtual PC will be free and will work on any version of Windows 7.
            http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/support/requirements.aspx

            XP Mode is a preconfigured and licensed copy of Windows XP. Nothing more.

            The big feature of the new Windows Virtual PC is the Auto Publish feature that lets you install applications on a virtual machine that can be run from the host operating system. This isn't exclusive to XP Mode.

            So yes, you can create your own XP Mode provided you have a spare license for Windows XP.

            If
            mikefarinha
      • Yes.

        Ever since Mac moved to Intel processor it made Virtual PC mostly irrelevant for Mac users that made a jump to the Intel world. For those who still have PPC Mac and want to use Windows on their Mac, Microsoft should have a package to sell Microsoft Windows XP with an free copy of Virtual PC.
        phatkat
        • I don't know if they still do

          ....but they did.
          Joe_Raby
    • What I've heard from Microsoft is...

      There is no "BYO XP" option for XP Mode. There's Virtual PC, and you can use what you want with that, but everything outside of XP Mode on 7 Pro (or higher) would require manual setup for the same thing.

      You need a unique license to activate any Windows version inside a virtual machine because it still counts as a "separate" computer, but 7 Pro includes that extra XP Pro license. Home Premium does not.

      Whether or not Microsoft allows Virtual PC to be installed on Home Premium remains to be seen. Previously, they would allow you to install it but it was unsupported (it's designed for business users - home users shouldn't have a need for virtualization).

      Also remember that the new Windows Virtual PC REQUIRES hardware virtualization (Intel VT or AMD-V), and won't work without it. If you don't have hardware VT, you'll have to use Virtual PC 2007 SP1 (or something else) anyway.

      Word of advice here: if you need virtualization options and have hardware VT support, buy 7 Pro. You can only transfer retail full version licenses of XP to a new computer, so long as it's removed from the old one, but OEM licenses aren't transferable, so being able to "BYO XP" isn't going to be an option for most people anyway, since most people buy Windows preinstalled on their PC.

      If you are one of the very few people that actually bought a retail full version of XP and want to transfer it over, that option is available, but if you plan on buying 7 Pro for it to be a supported platform, why would you use your retail copy, when the XP Mode stuff includes a fully-configured XP install in a VHD already prepared for you?
      Joe_Raby
  • RE: Microsoft delivers near-final test build of Windows 7 XP Mode

    Wow! This is so much better than what Apple does. When Apple releases even incremental upgrades to its OS it breaks almost every app and forces users to buy upgrades to the apps that they already have been using.
    jambo86
  • Good stuff

    Downloading and trying now.


    This is the final nail in the coffin for XP. With this kind of power Windows 7 is sure to please.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • its awesome

      I built a computer for an office about 2 months
      ago. It has a Tri Core Phenom I 8650 and 4GB of
      DDR2 800 memory. I loaded it with Windows 7 64
      bit 7201. And I got almost every legacy app to
      run and almost all the propriatary software to
      run. But for the couple of pieces that didn't
      work (it was more because it was 64 bit than
      Windows 7) I have setup in Virtual PC for them.
      Its very easy to use because once you install
      apps you can just launch them from the Start
      Menu. And they will run in a virtual PC
      Environment on your desktop like other apps. It
      took me about 10 mins to teach the primary user
      how to operate it. So far he loves Windows 7
      and the XP Mode. With that all of his apps run
      and they run fast.
      Jimster480
  • RE: Microsoft delivers near-final test build of Windows 7 XP Mode

    XP Mode (along with MED-V, the enterprise equivalent) stands out as one of Microsoft's smartest moves to date. It's free for users who need it, and it solves longstanding compatibility issues and concerns.
    Migration Expert Zone
  • What about PCs that can't run XP Mode?

    Something to keep in mind is that if your PC does not support the necessary hardware virtualisation then you can't run XP Mode. Now, couple that with the fact that you can't install Virtual PC 2007 SP1 on Windows 7 and you're stuck not able to upgrade to Windows 7 if you want to have any sort of Microsoft desktop virtualisation solution.
    spc1972
    • ??

      "you can't install Virtual PC 2007 SP1 on Windows 7"

      Why can't you? I can!
      Joe_Raby
    • I guess I better remove my VPC2007 then.

      Because it seems to work fine for me running an XP VM modeled after a typical XP workstation that other staff use.
      bobiroc
    • XP Mode not required for all XP applications

      ?We don?t expect XP Mode to be deployed on
      every Windows 7 PC,? said Woodgate. ?Should
      users run every (legacy) application they have
      in XP Mode? The answer is no.?

      I don't have any Vista apps running on my XP
      machine (duh) and they run just fine in the
      Windows 7 RC.

      I also own a machine that doesn't support
      virtualization. Big. Deal.
      cwallen19803@...
  • RE: Microsoft delivers near-final test build of Windows 7 XP Mode

    When I tried to install it (using the x64 installer - yes, I know VPC2007 is 32-bit but there is a x64 installer) on x64 Windows 7 RC, the Application Compatibility warning kicked in and refused to allow me to install it. As I recall, I was able to install VPC2007 on Win7 Beta but not on the RC.

    I posted this on the Virtual PC Guy's Blog at it seems Microsoft is aware but there were no public commitments to do anything about this. It will be interesting to see if the RTM is different.

    Interested to know about your experience. RC or Beta (or advanced copy of RTM?)?
    spc1972
    • Virtual PC 2007 does not work (sort of)

      You need to download Virtual PC 2007 SP1. It is a different download. I also recommend that you get the updates for it, but they are available automatically via Microsoft Update.

      It works. I tested it on RC and it downloads and installs without any issues or warnings.

      Also, the reason that they include a 64-bit installer is for the VM additions, and network plugins. Those require hardware interfaces, which are, simply speaking, drivers for the VM environment, and drivers have to be 64-bit on a 64-bit OS.
      Joe_Raby
  • XP Mode is a scam

    Locked down solution for very few qualifying users with too many IFs and BUTSs.
    xp-client