Q. What is Windows 7 XP mode?

A. Windows XP Mode is available in the Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. It is essentially two things: the new version of Virtual PC, called Windows Virtual PC, and a Windows XP Professional SP3 virtual machine (VM) configured with Windows Firewall and automatic updates enabled. XP Mode could be preinstalled on new computers if OEMs choose to install it, and the mode will also be available as a download from Microsoft.

Windows 7 hides the XP VM from the desktop user. Applications that will only run on Windows XP are executed within the VM, but the application window is displayed on the Windows 7 desktop, offering the end user a seamless experience. Applications installed on the VM will also be displayed in the Windows 7 Start menu and can be pinned to the Task Bar. Redirection of user data folders is performed with XP Mode, so when a user accesses an application running in XP Mode they still see their normal document folders.

XP Mode is essentially just running a VM on Windows 7 with seamless application execution. Organizations that use this technology will probably also want to integrate with Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), which is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), to get better management of the Windows XP image.

To enable the Windows XP Mode, your processor must support virtualization (it must have AMD-V or Intel VT) and virtualization must be enabled in the BIOS.

The inclusion of XP Mode will allow organizations to adopt Windows 7, even with applications that don't run on Windows 7, by running the applications in the VM. Long-term applications should still be updated to run natively on Windows 7, however, to allow the VM to be retired. Running applications natively provides better performance and less management overhead than the maintenance required on the Windows XP image.

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