Microsoft finalizes Windows 7 'XP Mode'

The software maker says it has wrapped up work on an add-on to Windows 7 that lets users run a virtualized copy of the older operating system.

Microsoft said on Thursday that it has finished development work on the virtualized version of Windows XP that Windows 7 users can use to run programs that won't work on the newer operating system.

In a statement, Microsoft said that it has finalized the code for the free "XP Mode" and that the software will be made available on October 22, the same day that Microsoft launches Windows 7.

Computer makers will also be able to offer Windows XP Mode with their systems, Microsoft said.

Microsoft said back in April that it would offer the XP Mode. Aimed primarily at small businesses, the virtualization layer is designed to help ease the transition for those still running programs that don't work properly with Windows 7 or Windows Vista.

To use the compatibility layer, users need to be running Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate.

The other tricky point is that to use XP mode, consumers also need a machine that has chip level virtualization support and has that feature turned on, something that isn't always easy for consumers to determine.

At its core, XP Mode consists of two things, the Windows Virtual PC engine and a licensed copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 as a packaged virtual machine, both of which Microsoft will make available for download.

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