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Windows 7 Bundles Virtual PC

It's one of the smartest things Microsoft has done with Windows 7. And, in New York cheesecake-thick irony, if Redmond had done it with Vista, it may not have been in such a rush to push Windows 7 out the door.

Windows 7 will feature "Windows XP Mode", allowing greater backwards compatibility of XP applications. The Mode is really just a user-friendly title for Virtual PC, which is due to have a beta of the new version released Tuesday.

The blog description implies that XP Mode will be automatically set up and running, without any user input. Virtual XP will be available from the Windows 7 Start menu, making it transparent for all intents and purposes. The integration with Windows 7 looks really interesting. Users won't even know, apparently, that they're running the app from a virtual machine (VM).

Apparently, there will be no requirement to license another copy of XP. Although not explicitly stated, I assume this is the case. Since Virtual PC is free, it would make no sense to offer this and still have to pay for a license for another OS, on top of the Windows 7 license. I'll check with Microsoft about this, however.

The question is what would have happened if Microsoft had done this with Vista? One of the Vista's great drawbacks at first was its lack of application compatibility. If something similar to XP Mode had been part of base Vista, perhaps the much-maligned OS would have seen greater uptake. With greater uptake (and more favorable media coverage), Microsoft would likely have not felt the pressure to get Windows 7 out the door so quickly and help everyone forget about Vista.

At this point, we'll never know. In any event, congratulations to Microsoft for integrating virtualization in a way that makes a ton of sense. Are you looking forward to Windows 7 and "XP Mode"? Let me know or comment below.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/04/2009 at 12:48 PM


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