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August 4, 2009

Windows XP Mode RC Now Available

Back in April, we introduced the Windows XP Mode beta and after a few months of incorporating your enthusiastic feedback, today we are announcing the availability of the Windows XP Mode Release Candidate.

Download: Windows XP Mode Release Candidate

As you may know, Windows XP Mode is specially 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 newly updated Windows XP Mode now works with the RC and RTM versions of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs.

Before I get into what has changed from beta to RC, I’d like to take a moment to clarify what Windows XP Mode is designed for, and highlight the point that in many cases Windows XP Mode will not be necessary. Windows 7 has a strong compatibility story with Windows Vista, and many applications that currently run on Windows XP-based or Windows Vista-based PCs should just run natively on Windows 7 – allowing you to take advantage of better performance, better management and better security built into Windows 7. In most cases, we recommend running applications natively in Windows 7. Windows XP Mode provides what we like to call that “last mile” compatibility technology for those cases when a Windows XP productivity application isn’t compatible with Windows 7. Users can run and launch Windows XP productivity applications in Windows XP Mode directly from a Windows 7 desktop. I also strongly recommend that customers install anti-malware and anti-virus software in Windows XP Mode so that Windows XP Mode environment is well protected. For customers that manage several Windows PCs running Windows XP Mode and want to simplify management tasks, we offer Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

New Features in Windows XP Mode RC

Based on feedback from the Windows XP Mode beta, we’ve made several improvements to the usability of Windows XP Mode for small and medium-sized business users:

  • You can now attach USB devices to Windows XP Mode applications directly from the Windows 7 task-bar. This means your USB devices, such as printers and flash drives, are available to applications running in Windows XP Mode, without the need to go into full screen mode.
  • You can now access Windows XP Mode applications with a “jump-list”. Right click on the Windows XP Mode applications from the Windows 7 task bar to select and open most recently used files.
  • You now have the flexibility of customizing where Windows XP Mode differencing disk files are stored.
  • You can now disable drive sharing between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7 if you do not need that feature.
  • The initial setup now includes a new user tutorial about how to use Windows XP Mode.

Customer and Partner Comments on Windows XP Mode

We are very excited that our customers and our partners see the value of Windows XP Mode. We collected testimonials from some customers testing Windows XP Mode; you can view videos from some of these customers here.

Many PCs can take advantage of Windows XP Mode, thanks to hardware capable of virtualization. 

PC manufacturers are using Intel processors with Intel Virtualization Technology on virtually all of their Intel systems aimed at small- to enterprise-size businesses. All PCs using Intel Core 2 processors with Intel vPro technology include Intel Virtualization technology. You can verify that an Intel processor has Intel Virtualization Technology here.

In addition, by Windows 7 launch all AMD CPUs shipping to customers, except Sempron, will include hardware virtualization. Here is what Margaret Lewis, Director of Commercial Software and Solutions from AMD says about supporting hardware virtualization and Windows XP Mode:

With XP Mode, Microsoft has built-in client virtualization technology that makes it easy to install and run Windows XP applications directly from a Windows 7-based PC, allowing users to enjoy the benefits of Windows 7 while maintaining support for legacy applications. AMD has worked closely with Microsoft to deliver highly optimized virtualization platforms and this new operating system continues the maturation of client virtualization while making use of AMD innovations.

We are also working with OEM partners to include Windows XP Mode preinstalled on new PCs.

Michelle Pearcy, director of Global Software Marketing at Dell, discusses the importance of integrating with Microsoft for Windows XP Mode:

Our customers expect their applications to simply work, regardless of their selected operating system. Windows XP Mode provides them with the confidence to migrate to Windows 7 while maintaining access to mission critical applications. Dell worked closely with Microsoft on the development of Windows XP Mode and provided input so that our customers can easily transition to Windows 7, which is a safer, more secure and efficient operating system.

Carlos Montalvo, Vice President of Experience Marketing on the Personal Systems Group at HP, talks about how HP intends to take full advantage of Windows 7 with their products:

For more than two years HP has collaborated closely with Microsoft on the development of Windows 7, contributing important innovations. HP is working to ensure our customers can take full advantage of the latest Windows 7 technologies such as offering our small and medium business customers the flexibility to run legacy applications. Our latest high performance multi-core enabled Windows 7 PCs will take advantage of Windows XP Mode once it is released.

Peter Schrady, Vice President and General Manager of Software, Peripherals and Enterprise Products at Lenovo discusses optimizing their PCs for Windows 7 and Windows XP Mode:

We’ve optimized our Think-branded PCs for Windows 7 and Windows XP Mode so businesses can enjoy the latest computing platform while still being able to use legacy applications that are supported only in Windows XP. Giving users seamless integration in a virtual environment is another way we’re working together to support commercial customers that have limited resources to spend on IT.

At the beta, there were concerns about the licensing for anti-virus and security software under Windows XP Mode and as we progressed to RC, we worked closely with those partners. Today, Kaspersky and Symantec confirmed their software will be supported in Windows XP Mode in addition to running on Windows 7 natively. We continue to work with additional anti-virus and security vendors to ensure their software will also support Windows XP Mode.

Here’s what Alexey Kalgin, Director of Product Marketing on the Corporate Business Division at Kaspersky Lab says:

By working with Microsoft, we are confident that Kaspersky Lab will provide XP users running Windows 7 in a virtual environment with an excellent security option that is easy to manage, and protects their valuable data without slowing them down. With the continued dramatic increase in malware and web attacks, our mission is to provide the best security possible for end-users and keep them educated and aware about the evolving threats.  Our Kaspersky Lab technical prototype for Windows 7 has been installed by more than 950K people since January. Thanks to collaboration with Microsoft, we have received an exceptional amount of valuable feedback from testers that will enable us to ensure that our products are fully compatible and permit everyone to safely take advantage of the new and unique features of Windows 7.

Blake McConnell, Senior Director, Product Management, SMB Security Solutions, Symantec, discussed the importance of running security software in Windows XP Mode:

Symantec has a long history of securing, managing, and assuring the availability of millions of desktops, laptops and servers running Microsoft Windows and other Microsoft applications. Symantec security products will give customers running Windows XP Mode on Windows 7 the peace of mind that their systems are up-to-date and protected from complex security threats including malware, spam, and viruses.

Please note: Windows XP Mode RC requires RC or RTM version of Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise. It also requires additional 1 GB of RAM, 15 GB of available disk space, and processor capable of hardware virtualization with AMD-V or Intel VT turned on in the BIOS.

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