XP Mode: what it is and is not

Since Vista was first released to the public in January of 2007, there has been this loud voice crying about Vista’s supposed problems and how much better XP is than Vista.  I don’t wish to re-ignite that stupid argument, I’ve made my opinions quite clear about Vista (to summarize, there is nothing wrong with Vista.)  Last week, though, Microsoft opened Pandora’s box again with the announcement of XP Mode in Windows 7.

Since that announcement, I’ve heard and read some really far out things about XP Mode and what it ‘really’ means.  First, lets reflect on the announcement and what has been said about the software.

What Microsoft announced was this:  they will make available a pre-packaged virtual machine with Windows XP Pro pre-installed and activated.  It is a full copy of the operating system and will be free to Windows 7 users who have the Ultimate, Enterprise or Business flavors of the operating system.  It will NOT be available to Starter, Basic or Home Premium users.  Since XPM is really running Microsoft’s Virtual PC, it is not suitable for many consumer applications and games. It is meant to be used for those applications that, for a variety of reasons, will not run under Windows 7. Applications installed in the virtual environment will appear on the Windows 7 applications menu and use the XP style interface objects.  They will also not work Windows 7 new GUI features like auto shake.

Since the announcement, there has been much speculation as to what it means.  Everything from ‘its an indictment on Vista’ to ‘it is Microsoft admitting the XP is better.’  No, what it means is that XP is acknowledging that there is a need for backward compatibility.  Technology moves forward and this is the first step to move Windows forward and jettison its legacy support.  Providing a means for companies to continue using legacy applications while moving forward with modern operating systems is good business and is not an admission that Vista was a mistake. 

I would like for them to take it a step further and provide something similar for home users as well.  Apple was successful in moving its users from its vastly inferior Mac OS 9 platform and into its more modern OS X.  Microsoft needs to do the same thing.  XPM is a good start.  Getting users off of XP, which is now something akin to a 1960 Ford:  it still runs, but gets poor gas mileage, looks old and isn’t very comfortable.  XP is old, ugly and not very safe for the majority of its users.  Yeah, I know, if you know what you are doing, it is perfectly safe.  Unfortunately, the majority of the public do not have an IT department to rely on and, in that case, XP is not all that safe for most people.  In simple terms, its past its prime and needs to be retired.  The constant outcry by people to ‘save XP’ is ridiculous.  Windows 7 should kill that silly notion. 

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