Virtual XP Mode could cause support woes

Microsoft's decision to give Windows 7 users a tool to run Windows XP apps in a virtual machine might persuade some people to buy the new operating system

A new Microsoft add-on for Windows 7 that will let some users run Windows XP applications in a virtual machine could create support nightmares for IT managers, analysts said last week.

The company had announced last month that the add-on, called Windows XP Mode (XPM), will be available to users of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise versions once the new operating system ships later this year. Professional and Ultimate are the two highest-priced versions of Windows 7, while Enterprise is sold only through volume licensing agreements.

Analysts agreed that Microsoft needs to offer the add-on to help persuade users to upgrade to Windows 7, but they also noted that it could cause multiple problems for corporate users.

"This will help the uptake for Windows 7, because it removes one more gotcha, and that's never a bad thing to do," said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

Cherry added that Microsoft's decision to use virtualization to provide backward compatibility is a nice "safety net" for users who lack access to Microsoft's Enterprise Desktop Virtualization technology.

Michael Silver, an analyst at Gartner Inc., echoed Cherry's take on what motivated Microsoft to offer XPM, but he added that it broadly expands support requirements. "You'll have to support two versions of Windows," he said. "Each needs to be secured, antivirused, firewalled and patched. If a company has 10,000 PCs, that's 20,000 instances of Windows."

Silver also noted that the add-on might lead companies to neglect the important task of making sure their applications are compatible with Windows 7. "This is a great Band-Aid, but companies need to heal their applications," he said. "They'll be doing themselves a disservice if, because of XPM, they're not making sure that all their apps support Windows 7."

Silver added that while Microsoft is effectively extending the life of Windows XP by offering it as a Windows 7 add-on, it hasn't changed its plan to shift the older operating system out of mainstream support and provide only what it calls "extended" support only until mid-April 2014.

"[XPM] will give some a false sense of security," Silver warned. "What happens in 2014, when XP isn't supported anymore? I think companies will be much better off if they make all their applications run on Windows 7."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags windows xpMicrosoftWindows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?