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Windows XP Mode Released to OEMs

Microsoft announced that the final version of Windows XP Mode was released to PC manufacturers on Thursday.

Microsoft essentially hit its "release to manufacturing" (RTM) milestone for Windows XP Mode, signifying the time in which original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can begin adding the bits to their Windows 7 RTM distribution packages.

Alternatively, Windows XP Mode will be available as a separate download for the general public on Oct. 22, which is the general release date for new Windows 7-based PCs. Currently, the general public can only get its hands on the release candidate version of Windows XP Mode, although Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN subscribers already have access to the RTM version.

Windows XP Mode is a desktop virtualization supplement that works with Microsoft Virtual PC in Windows 7. It lets users run a complete copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3, along with associated XP-based applications, right on the Windows 7 desktop. Windows XP Mode only works with certain editions of Windows 7, namely Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise.

Microsoft designed Windows XP Mode for small-to-medium organizations, particularly for those that want to maintain a legacy XP-based application while still migrating to Windows 7. For larger organizations that centralize the management of multiple PCs, Microsoft recommends using Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V). MEV-V is available to Microsoft Volume Licensing customers with Software Assurance and is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

Windows XP Mode comes with some maintenance issues to consider. For instance, IT pros will have to ensure security separately from Windows 7. The virtualized Windows XP operating system can't be centrally managed through group policies. In addition, the PC that runs Windows XP Mode must have hardware virtualization capabilities, such as Intel VT or AMD-V technologies.

Fortunately, Microsoft has indicated that Windows Security Essentials, Microsoft's new free antimalware solution, will work with Windows XP Mode.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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