It just won’t die: Windows 7 XP Mode RC released

Redmond (WA) – Windows 7 is Microsoft’s savior to delete the Windows Vista disaster from its memory. But while Windows 7 will undoubtedly replace Windows Vista very quickly, Microsoft knows that it will be different with Windows XP. To make Windows 7 a more compelling case to Windows XP users, the company has now released the Windows XP Mode Release Candidate to bridge the gap to XP applications.

You could either see Windows XP as a huge success or as the software that highlighted Windows Vista’s failure. Worldwide, it is still the most popular operating system with a market share of about 60%, even more than two years after Vista’s launch, according to Net Applications. And Microsoft seems to anticipate that even Windows  7 may not be enough to convince all XP users to upgrade and will stick with their current OS environment instead.

But the company has adjusted its strategy to assure users that an upgrade won’t break their computers and affect the applications in a way they are running today. Microsoft today released Windows XP Mode RC, which can be downloaded free of charge. The company said that “Windows XP Mode is specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses to help ease the migration process to Windows 7 by providing additional compatibility for their older productivity applications.” The software works “with the RC and RTM versions of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs.”

In a blog post, Microsoft said that most XP applications should run “just fine” on Windows 7 PCs and the XP Mode is considered to be just a “last mile compatibility technology for those cases when a Windows XP productivity application isn’t compatible with Windows 7.”

The RC version of XP Mode includes support for Windows 7 jump lists and USB devices from the task bar. It can also disable drive sharing between XP Mode and Windows 7 and differentiate between the storage areas of Windows 7 and XP Mode specific files. Essentially, the XP Mode software is not so much a consumer tool, but an enterprise solution that may make the migration of technologies such as virtualization much easier.

For consumers, we remember that backwards compatibility modes aren’t really new. All recent versions of Windows operating systems integrate a program compatibility mode, which can be accessed through the Properties tab when right-clicking on a program. Windows XP, for example, can run software in a Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 mode.

However, the release of Windows XP Mode RC is a sign that even Microsoft thinks that Windows XP and its applications are here to stay.