So now we know that Microsoft is pushing out the release version of the latest in the operating system line-up, Windows 7, starting this week on the 30th April according to official sources. However, we also know from various news reports that many existing Windows users are not exactly head over heels in love with the thought of Windows 7 and many have said they will not be upgrading for at least a year.
Indeed, with software compatibility and the cost of implementation being cited as major reasons why people may not bother with Windows 7 for some time, and many admitting that they are much more concerned about upgrading to Windows 7 than they are with any problems related to staying with the now very outdated Windows XP.
It seems that Microsoft has not been slow on picking this up, and has now announced that just as the Windows 7 Release Candidate version is set to go public Microsoft is thinking about XP. In fact, Microsoft says that it will be releasing a Windows 7 add-on in the shape of 'Windows XP Mode' which will provide users with "the flexibility to run many older productivity applications on a Windows 7 based PC."
XP Mode will be a virtual Windows XP environment running under Windows Virtual PC and will enable "suitable applications" to be installed directly, published to the Windows 7 desktop and then run from Windows 7. Well, some of the six versions of Windows 7 that is. According to the official statement Microsoft will be "soon releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate."
This is, to be fair, somewhat big news in that it is the first time that I am aware of Microsoft using virtualisation for backwards compatibility for a major OS release. The fact that Windows XPM (XP Mode) will only be available to purchasers of the most expensive varieties of Windows 7 strikes me as rather mercenary and hugely short sighted. Sure it is great being able to run XP applications without having to start up a separate virtual Windows desktop, but not to offer this across the range is going to further isolate many potential upgraders who have yet to make up their minds it seems to me.