Several interesting Windows 7 news bits came out this past week, including release dates-from Microsoft-for the RC build and a somewhat surprising new feature for the operating system.
April 30 and May 5 are the release dates for the ‘release candidate’ or RC build of Windows 7. April 30 will be the date that MSDN and TechNet users can download the build and May 5 is the general release date for everyone else. This build is expected to be the ‘final’ public release until the ‘gold’ version goes out to manufacturing and retail shelves.
The feature mentioned previously a virtualized version of Windows XP. Available for the Enterprise, Professional and Ultimate editions, XPM, as it is called, will provide the new OS will 100% backward compatibility with XP software. This will be boon to businesses who have a sizable investment in Windows software that, for many reasons, they cannot upgrade or replace.
XPM will not be included ‘in the box’, rather it will be a download. XPM is actually a specialized version of the Virtual PC application AND a full blown, activated copy of Windows XP. You will be able to install applications directly in the XP environment and have icons put in your Windows 7 desktop and, presumably, the Application menu. You will be able to start those applications from Windows 7 and they will run in the virtualized environment. I am guessing this will work like Parallels on the Mac OS.
Clearly, Microsoft is gunning for early adoption of Windows 7 by business. Businesses have been, traditionally, slow to upgrade from one version of Windows to the next. Indeed, XP took nearly four years to become prevalent and Vista has yet to achieve any kind of meaningful penetration into the enterprise. With this virtualized XP mode available, that will probably sway many companies. It also helps that Windows 7 hardware requirements have not increased as is traditional with new versions of the OS. In fact, the operating system will, supposedly, run on hardware designed for XP. Well, so what, I bet I could run Vista Home Basic on them as well…doesn’t mean I should. At any rate, Windows 7 looks to be the logical upgrade path from XP…for business, anyway. Home users should probably just buy a PC with Windows Vista or 7 pre-installed.
Mark your calendars for May 5 if you want to see what the new Windows release will look and feel like.