Windows XP mode hits RC ahead of 7 release

Windows logo

Microsoft has unveiled the release candidate for its Windows XP Mode beta.

The feature enables SMBs to keep using older applications even when they switch to Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 7.

Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post that most users won't need XP mode, as their applications should transfer easily to Windows 7 from XP or Vista.

"Windows XP Mode provides what we like to call that 'last mile' compatibility technology for those cases when a Windows XP productivity application isn't compatible with Windows 7," he wrote. "Users can run and launch Windows XP productivity applications in Windows XP Mode directly from a Windows 7 desktop."

New improvements from the beta include the ability to use USB devices in XP mode from the Windows 7 task bar, letting them be accessed directly by applications.

Apps running in XP mode can now be added to jump lists in Windows 7, and customise where disk files are stored.

The RC works with the release candidate and RTM of Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise, but does require a processor which can handle hardware virtualisation.

Read on to find out if you should skip Vista and go straight to Windows 7.