MS Launches Windows 7 'XP Mode' Release Candidate

Dennis Faas's picture

Late yesterday Microsoft revealed that it had made available Release Candidate software allowing Windows 7 users to operate a virtual edition of its still very popular Windows XP.

The news is good for those of us still hesitant to make the upgrade to Windows 7. Although most of us won't know for sure how well 'XP Mode' will work until Windows 7 is released on October 22, many faithful XP users will be happy to hear that they can switch back in time if the Win7 interface isn't to their liking.

CPU Virtualization Required

Windows XP Mode Release Candidate is currently available for download from Microsoft's Windows web site, but the software does require a CPU (Central Processing Unit) be equipped with virtualization capabilities. Both AMD and Intel offer their own brand of virtualization technology and not all CPUs have this capability. A brief list of CPUs with virtualization support are listed via wikipedia and include both AMD and Intel.

Microsoft's decision to release XP Mode was spurred on by popular demand. Because Windows Vista had so much trouble with compatibility issues when it was released in 2007, frightened but prospective Win7 users asked that an alternative OS be built into the highly-anticipated operating system.

Business Users Bark Loudest

Amongst the loudest advocates of XP Mode were business users, who became immediately concerned when Microsoft revealed that Windows 7 would be built on the same kernel as its predecessor, Windows Vista. To many, that sounded like a warning that compatibility issues could follow. (Source:

In a statement yesterday, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc appeared to confirm that XP Mode was intended to ease the fears of business users concerned about compatibility issues. "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," LeBlanc said. (Source:

According to LeBlanc, XP Mode will work with both Release Candidate and Release to Manufacturing versions of Windows 7.

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