Windows 7 arrives this week, supports "virtual" XP

Microsoft has at last has confirmed the ship dates for Windows 7. The RC is "on track" to be available for download on April 30 for MSDN and TechNet subscribers with public availability promised to begin on May 5th, according to Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc in a post in The Windows blog. At the same time, XP lovers may be excited to discover that Windows 7 will include a feature that allows XP to run in virtual mode, The Windows Blog has revealed.

But be forewarned, the virtualized XP option will likely require the purchase of a new Windows 7 PC. Reports Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows blog:

"XPM is built on the next generation Microsoft Virtual PC 7 product line, which requires processor-based virtualization support (Intel and AMD) to be present and enabled on the underlying PC."

The Microsoft blog hasn't flat-out confirmed these statements from the SuperSite, but has given good, strong hints of confirmation:

"Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC are best experienced on your new Windows 7 PC. We will be soon releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate."

In other words, it does not seem as if this feature will allow companies to buy Windows 7 for aging XP machines and run XP in XPM mode. But this does not seem an unreasonable tactic. Companies that skipped Vista will be sitting on old PCs that will likely need to be upgraded in one fashion or another in the next couple of years. The question is, will they opt for another round of fat Windows clients? Or will they opt for virtualized desktops, perhaps via low-cost netbooks, served by Citrix or other thin-client technologies? If Windows 7 is as good as the pundits say it will be, it could convince corporate America to give the fat PC one more try.

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