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Windows 7 To Include "Windows XP Mode" 364

Posted by Soulskill
from the os-that-won't-die dept.
Z80xxc! writes "Paul Thurrott's WinSuperSite reports that Windows 7 will include a built-in virtual machine with a fully licensed copy of Windows XP Professional SP3. The VM runs in a modified version of Virtual PC, and applications running in the VM can interact directly with the host operating system as if they were running on the Windows 7 installation itself. While details are scarce for now, it looks as if this feature will only be available as a (free) addon for Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. Also, a processor supporting hardware virtualization will be required, indicating that this is perhaps aimed more at power users and corporate users, rather than consumers. Microsoft confirmed the feature last night."
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Windows 7 To Include "Windows XP Mode"

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  • by downix (84795) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:20AM (#27711963) Homepage

    Altho I call it Kubuntu with XP running in QEMU....

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:26AM (#27712015)
      When do you think VM images will outnumber disk images on the pirate sites?

      XP! Pre configured, fully loaded with apps, fully patched, and pre hacked. Please seed!
      • by spud603 (832173) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:56AM (#27712293)

        XP! Pre configured, fully loaded with rootkits, fully patched, and pre hacked. Please seed!

        fixed that for you

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:13AM (#27712431)
          Excellent, that will make this [xkcd.com] easier.
        • by foniksonik (573572) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:17AM (#27713007) Homepage Journal

          What good is a rootkit in a VM? It'll be open just as long as the user needs to open some legacy app, won't have access to their file system, except what documents they choose to copy over temporarily and may or may not have internet access.

          Running Windows in a VM is actually the ideal solution. Do all your net connected stuff via a secure OS like Linux, then open up a few ports for the VM to run games or whatever.

          • Not that safe (Score:4, Interesting)

            by TheLink (130905) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:21PM (#27713543) Journal
            In many cases (especially if virtualization is used):
            root in virtual machine + bug in your CPU and/or bug in vm software = root in host machine.

            Apparently there is an exploitable bug in intel processors. The "offsets" for the exploit might change depending on the motherboard you are using. So you better not be using a popular motherboard :).
          • I run XP in VirtualBox on a Debian testing host workstation. Stable, secure, and the only time it can contribute to my security risks is during the hour or two a week I run it. (my Eudora mail client runs in Crossover Office)

            As for the performance hit, the way to deal with that is simply to run a faster processor. Though even in virtualization, remember that XP was designed for processors a lot slower than anything you'll see in a modern computer.

            M$ being willing to put virtualization in their OS gave
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by weicco (645927)

            Didn't we just have an article about a CPU hack which enables attacker to take over the whole system even from VM as long as the attacker gets root/admin access? I could be wrong though because the article went way over my head.

    • by WED Fan (911325) <[akahige] [at] [trashmail.net]> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:35AM (#27712619) Homepage Journal

      The U.S. Military is heavily invested in several applications that have been tested at Microsoft. (Military members do have offices in Redmond for this purpose.) Windows 7 was shown to have some issues. The USN scrapped plans to move to Vista, planned for this quarter, and decided to wait for Windows 7, but needed XP compatibility. The VM compromise was brewed up.

      • by wwphx (225607) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:19AM (#27713031) Homepage

        I hope this causes them to upgrade their VirtualPC as it doesn't support USB devices currently.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RobertM1968 (951074)

        Yes, but isn't this still just a marketing ploy - or an inability on Microsoft's part to figure out how to fully integrate VPC? WinXP emulation (WoW) in Vista and originally planned on Win7 was already based on VPC.

        It (and killing VPC hosts on other OS's) was the core reason for the acquisition. This has been discussed numerous times here and elsewhere.

        So now, to get the fully working XP emulation that had already been promised by using VPC for the basis of WoW (Windows on Windows - not the game), one has

  • I knew it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:21AM (#27711969) Homepage
    The only way they'll convince people to switch to Windows 7 is to bundle it with XP!
    • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip...paradis@@@palegray...net> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:26AM (#27712017) Homepage Journal
      So, can I run DOS software via emulation inside XP inside Window 7? It's time for some Jazz Jackrabbit; I just knew Microsoft was still good for something.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        don't forget that you're installing Windows 7 inside VMWare, xVM or pick your favorite virtual machine software...

        although I'd be willing to bet that the *feature* required "hardware vm support" isn't emulated inside the VMs...

        I once knew someone who loaded linux, installed bochs, loaded windows inside bochs, installed bochs, loaded linux within bochs, within windows, within bochs, within linux..

        after he got about 6 layers deep he stopped... his system was out of resources...

    • by master5o1 (1068594) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:21AM (#27712499) Homepage
      You dawg, I heard you like Windows, so we put Windows in your Windows so you can BSOD while you BSOD.
    • Re:I knew it! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dov_0 (1438253) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:42AM (#27712703)
      Probably the best enterprise marketing decision that MS has made in years...
    • by Elektroschock (659467) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:34AM (#27713151)

      I didn't know Win7 was that broken...

      Unbelievable, poor Microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dunezone (899268)
      The only way to convince people to switch to Apple was to allow it to run XP!
  • It's already getting hard to find any moderately powerful desktop or laptop rig that doesn't have a CPU that supports hardware virtualization. Hell, I've got an older development box with a single-core AMD64 chip that supports KVM just fine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      New, yes. Old i disagree. There are *millions* of perfectly fine machines that don't have the extended instruction sets.

      I have 2 under my desk at work, 2 ghz 2gb ram. Id not call that garbage. Neither have a newer chip.

    • You bought a single core AM2 chip?
  • Wait a second (Score:5, Interesting)

    by downix (84795) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:27AM (#27712019) Homepage

    if it will run XP mode software, wouldn't that mean XP style viruses now have a key right into the system?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There's that possibility, but securing VMs can be fairly easy. Don't want internet connectivity? turn it off.

      On the other hand, a virus that infected your XP VM wouldn't be able to infect the host OS unless it could complete the infection anyway. The only concern is that a VM being highly connected (to personal profiles and the like) may be granted permission to delete files, harvest information etc.

  • We heard you like BSODing, so we put Windows in your Windows so you can crash while you crash.

  • by DavidChristopher (633902) * on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:30AM (#27712059)
    ... one of the drawbacks of the WIndows platform - from an development and engineering point of view - is that it's backwards compatible all the way back to (if I'm not mistaken) Windows 1.0. That's an insane codebase to be dealing with. By bundling an XP VM with Win7, they can- for the first time - take the backwards compatibility crap out of Windows and concentrate on providing a stable OS.

    Isn't that essentially what Apple did with the transition from 68000 series chips to PowerPC, from OS 9.x to OS 10, and then again from Power PC to Intel?

    I've believed this was a necessity for quite a while.

    D
    • ... one of the drawbacks of the WIndows platform - from an development and engineering point of view - is that it's backwards compatible all the way back to (if I'm not mistaken) Windows 1.0. That's an insane codebase to be dealing with. By bundling an XP VM with Win7, they can- for the first time - take the backwards compatibility crap out of Windows and concentrate on providing a stable OS. Isn't that essentially what Apple did with the transition from 68000 series chips to PowerPC, from OS 9.x to OS 10, and then again from Power PC to Intel? I've believed this was a necessity for quite a while. D

      While I agree with your observation regarding making a "break" in the code by providing a virtualized "backwards-compatible" environment, what the hell is the reason the codebase IS compatible all the way to Windows 1.0?!?

      When a company says "we're no longer going to support Windows 3x or Win9x, they should MEAN IT. NO support for the software. NO support for the hardware. This would be like me walking into the Ford dealership and demanding to know why they no longer "support" my 1978 F-150 for parts.

      Ra

      • by trifish (826353) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:46AM (#27712219)

        When a company says "we're no longer going to support Windows 3x or Win9x, they should MEAN IT. NO support for the software.

        They'd have to be insane to do that. Only an insane OS vendor would get incompatible with the largest collection of software in the history of computing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by geekmux (1040042)

          When a company says "we're no longer going to support Windows 3x or Win9x, they should MEAN IT. NO support for the software.

          They'd have to be insane to do that. Only an insane OS vendor would get incompatible with the largest collection of software in the history of computing.

          Uh, just because AOL managed to press entire landfills of compact discs doesn't mean they're suddenly in the "top 10" of relevant software, nor does it mean that AOL should give a rats ass about the last 7 versions back of their software.

          When the hell was the last time you actually USED a Win3x or Win9x app? When was the last time Microsoft officially supported them? THAT is my point.

          And I guess Apple was quite "insane" when they broke off between v9 and OSX too, right?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by trifish (826353)

            They're just maintaining the Win32 API, which is easy and it does not decrease the quality of the new systems in any way. Most of the other parts of the 9x systems (such as the driver model) have been made incompatible for home users as soon as Windows XP was released. As for MS-DOS applications, I know quite a lot of businesses that still use software that someone wrote for them back in the early 90's. Believe me, you basically don't know what you're talking about.

      • by chill (34294)

        Actually, I can walk into a Jeep dealer and get parts for my 1983 Jeep Scrambler. Sometimes they're in stock and sometimes they have to order them. No that I do very often, mind you. Dealers charge 3 to 10 times more than an independent parts store. Only when I wanted the actual OEM gasoline filler hose, pre-bent in some god-forsaken unique shape, did I actually go to a dealer. But in stock it was.

      • by SpryGuy (206254)

        The main reason Windows has such massive market share is the backward compatibility.

        It's because BUSINESSES rely on it, and Business is where Windows pounds most other OS's in use. Of all my friends, well over half use Macs (50+% market penetration), yet over-all, Windows has 90% market share (give or take). That delta is all about business.

        And most businesses are very slow to upgrade, and have custom apps that cannot be easily rewritten. It's EXPENSIVE to rewrite something for a new OS just because the

    • by trifish (826353) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:43AM (#27712187)

      they can- for the first time - take the backwards compatibility crap out of Windows and concentrate on providing a stable OS.

      No, they can't. The vast majority of Windows 7 users will be running one of the Home editions, which aren't going to have this "Virtual XP" mode. RTFA or just the summary.

    • by mike260 (224212) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:44AM (#27712189)

      The CPU transitions were handled at a much lower-level - the CPU was emulated, but not the OS, so even emulated software was running in the native OS. Apart from the performance drop, running apps in Rosetta (the PPC emulator) is pretty seamless; you can try it out by choosing an app, File->Get Info, then checking the 'Open in Rosetta' checkbox.

      But yeah, the OS9->OSX transition did something similar to what Microsoft's describing. I only hope that Microsoft manage it a bit more gracefully than Apple did, 'cos that had serious usability problems and was a pretty jarring experience overall.

    • by TropicalCoder (898500) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:29AM (#27712577) Homepage Journal

      By bundling an XP VM with Win7, they can - for the first time - take the backwards compatibility crap out of Windows and concentrate on providing a stable OS.

      My fear is that once they have provided for running legacy software in a VM, they will feel free to move on towards their ultimate goal - an OS that will no longer run native code. They will come out with an OS that only runs .NET managed code, and thereby exercise total control over what you can ultimately run on the platform. It will be a form of "Trusted Computing" [wikipedia.org] in disguise. Only specially certified "Microsoft Partners" will be allowed special access to develop the libraries underlying .NET, and the rest of us will be shut out. Microsoft will excercise absolute control over what can be run on their OS and thereby gain enormous powers far beyond what they have today.

      • by Urthwhyte (967114) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:04PM (#27713419)
        Where's the "+1 Paranoid" mod?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        They will come out with an OS that only runs .NET managed code, and thereby exercise total control over what you can ultimately run on the platform.

        I do not see at all how one follows from the other. For example, it is fairly obvious that one doesn't need any form of managed code to exercise total control over what can ultimately run on the platform - you can sandbox native code just as well (and you can jailbreak CLR managed code just as easily), except when the OS uses a TPM chip to validate signatures for all code, in which case it doesn't matter either way.

        On a side note, in case you haven't noticed, after several years of ".NET .NET .NET!" there h

  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@gamerslST ... .com minus berry> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:38AM (#27712143) Homepage Journal

    if it can interact just like it was on windows7, will it be just as vulnerable?

    will people choose to use that rather than windows 7 all the time?

    will it run on top of a hypervisor? ie, can it access the hardware directly?

  • by Nichotin (794369) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:38AM (#27712147)
    I have had a Windows XP Professional running in VMware on my MacBook and my Vista 64-bit desktop from the beginning. It solves a lot of problems with some quirky legacy apps I have to run.

    And thanks to the USB support, I can also use:
    1) Very old USB scanner with XP 32-bit drivers. I use it a few times a year for digitalizing reciepts etc., and I really don't want to pay for a new one.
    2) Random gadgets with stupid software and buggy drivers.

    Getting this free with Windows 7 would really rock.
  • by SilentChris (452960) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:39AM (#27712151) Homepage

    Unfortunately, while this is a long overdue solution that other companies have used fine before, but it's going to prove problematic for Microsoft. Things that won't work (and Joe User will try to do anyway):

    1.) Install their XP-compatible Antivirus program. "It said on the Windows 7 box that I could run old programs!"
    2.) Install a printer which works on XP only. "The printer box said it works on Windows. Why can I only print from some programs (the older ones seem to work)?"
    3.) Play an old game at reasonable speed. "I installed Super Hardware Killer Shooter for Windows XP and the 3D is running really slow!"

    Virtualization is a great thing. I use it work all the time and love it. The public doesn't quite "get it" yet. They're going to see some things work, some things not and wonder why the hell that is. It happened when Apple moved to OS X, but the user base was much smaller so the complaints were less.

    Until someone creates a hypervisor which is presented in a completely transparent way to the OS, in that things difficult to virtualize (e.g. video card hardware) run at normal speeds, it's just going to appear to the user "every time I run an old program, either it's too slow or it doesn't work".

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Most people won't have Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions. Those that do probably know what they are doing or are at work where they are constricted in what they can install anyway.

    • But it fixes the PERCEIVED problem that Vista is incompatible with lots of legacy software. Microsoft can point at Windows 7 and say that it runs MORE than Vista, and actually be truthful about it.

      Yes, it's all semantics at the end of the day. In truth I've been running 64-bit Vista on my work laptop for months now and I actually really like it. Although I still deal with the occasional incompatibility, it's usually nothing I can't work around. It's far more stable than XP, and I feel a lot more secure (yes

  • by Valen0 (325388)

    Maybe they could cut out the virtual machine and offer Windows XP SP3 as a separate product? It would eliminate all of the virtual machine overhead.

    This move to bundle this with Virtual Server seems analogous to the bundling of Internet Explorer in Windows 98. I wonder if Microsoft is trying to kill VMWare and Parallel's market share like they killed Netscape's browser share.

    Finally, it is pretty sad when your operating system requires a virtual machine to emulate what the operating system should do nativel

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Finally, it is pretty sad when your operating system requires a virtual machine to emulate what the operating system should do natively.

      I call FUD. If you want to run some old-ass linux executables you'll probably need an old-ass Linux to run them on, and while you COULD integrate all that stuff into your current install by sticking everything in different paths and tweaking LD_PRELOAD constantly, it might STILL cause problems. Meanwhile, Windows NT has always used a virtual machine process to run 16 bit executables.

      OTOH, including "all" of Windows XP SP3 seems kind of egregious...

  • So let me get this straight. I can buy windows 7 and not have to worry about it sucking more than XP because I can run XP in virtualization. So if I go back to XP I just paid for the privilege of running XP twice? Microsoft has really gone downhill lately. The upgrades seem to have negative marginal value these days. Who would have paid for the privilege to run Windows 3.1 in Windows 95? Where's the innovation? It seems like each release they just take features away and only give them back to you if

  • Not dead yet! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Minupla (62455) <minupla@@@gmail...com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:48AM (#27712237) Homepage Journal

    So does this mean M$ will be extending the fully supported period for XP again, as it will be shipping with W7?

    Min

  • by Atraxen (790188) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:56AM (#27712291)

    By "confirmed the feature last night", did you mean:

    "confirmed their intention to include an interesting feature, which in all likelihood will be dropped in the last quarter before release because other issues critical to the fundamental infrastructure of the OS have been discovered and will require 110% of effort in order to result in an acceptable basic release?"

    I've been trying to learn Spanish lately - my corpspeak is seeming pretty fluent.

  • Thumbs up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jonas Buyl (1425319) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:57AM (#27712307)
    It's an interesting decision. By implementing an easy-to-use VM for legacy software they're able to stick to their policies (maintain support for all legacy Win32 software) and on the other hand restructure their operating system with new knowledge. Each time I see news on Windows 7 I can't help but wondering if Microsoft has finally seen the light. There might be hope still!
  • Yes finally XP reaches it safe haven, the VM.

    Now we know what this Win7 is meant for.

  • Will it include P2V? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by snsh (968808) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:13AM (#27712437)
    This would be great if Microsoft included a friendly P2V tool like platespin or vconverter. Then when people buy a new PC, it becomes short work to P2V their old XP system into a VM sitting inside their new system. A lot of people hate to upgrade for fear of losing their old files and settings.
  • by localroger (258128) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @10:18AM (#27712483) Homepage
    I know a few people who are really well connected in Fortune 500 IT circles, and they tell me to a man that *NOBODY* is planning to move to Vista or 7 (by which they mean *NOBODY* running a very large corporate IT enterprise). They tend to have corporate security models including stations locked down in various ways that work, deployment models that work, drive reimaging procedures that work, standard desktops and toolsets that work, and legacy code that works, much of which DOESN'T work in Vista or 7. This is the reason you can still get an XP box -- MS keeps raising the bar for it, but corporate just keeps paying the freight. So this is MS next move, to try to slide these guys into 7 by letting them virtualize their XP model.

    The problem is that while this will solve some of the IT guys' problems (legacy apps, desktops, maybe security model) it will not solve what is probably the most important problem to some of them, deployment and drive reimaging. Also depending on how easy it is to break out of the emulation sandbox, they may not be happy with the security model either. When you are talking about pretty much rebuilding a network with 100,000 machines, paying an extra couple of hundred in blackmail per box for MS to let you keep using what you know works makes a lot more sense than jumping off into the void. MS may overcome some of the corporate reluctance with this ploy, particularly at smaller companies, but I don't think it's going to crack the egg they need to crack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nmb3000 (741169)

      First, I have to say something about the end of the summary:

      a processor supporting hardware virtualization will be required, indicating that this is perhaps aimed more at power users and corporate users, rather than consumers

      Nearly every single Intel CPU made in the last several years includes their VT technology built in. All new i7 chips include it. I have no idea why someone would think the embedded VM is restricted to "power users". By the time Win7 is released, almost every computer running it will h

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chuckymonkey (1059244)
      That's where Microsoft's greatest strength becomes its greatest weakness. They are strongly entrenched in the business side of the house which is great for their profits. However since they do not have an incremental upgrade path and, in the case of Vista, a several year gap between OS upgrades XP is too pervasive in business. IT can still upgrade everything, but it's going to take more time and more resources to upgrade than it's worth. So the IT department is only going to upgrade as far as they have
  • Find out if your processor supports it here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86_virtualization [wikipedia.org] Unless you're playing a highly demanding application, third party solutions should work just as well. Some options are free... this one from Microsoft isn't. Unless you have the right processor already and intended to get the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows anyway, you'd be better served without it.
  • It's just like in that Dilbert cartoon where they find out the best marketing strategy for their new music-player is to sell it a bit cheaper than the iPod, bundle it with the iPod and provide free access to a landfill.

    Well anyhow, it's Microsoft's only choice. They won't be able to sell their newer OSes because they are not compatible. The _only_ reason why people ever bought Microsoft's product was backwards compatibility.

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:12AM (#27712969) Homepage Journal

    Apple called from the year 2000 and wants their legacy transition strategy back... but hey it did work, so I say go for it Microsoft.

    BTW virtualization need not be in a window. When Apple provided OS 9 aka "Classic" support they didn't make the apps second class citizens in any way relevant to getting work done. Sure they were running in emulated mode and were not as fast as they could be but they had access to all peripherals, etc.

    Modern virtualization allows for way better performance, full access to all hardware and as importantly can still be sandboxed.

    They should hide all the virtualization aspects though and just let the apps open like they are regular apps with maybe a title bar note saying "(Windows XP) or something so there is a clue when an app gets updated to full native capabilities (the note will go away.

    When Mac OS did this transition it was actually quite exciting (though also frustrating) as I would be on the look-out for the OSX native version of some software to come out.... then we got to do it again when the Intel binaries came out...

    Anyways, if Microsoft does it right it will be transparent and will allow them to finally do away with the legacy support roadmap. This XP virtual mode will be there as long as it takes for companies to move their apps over to 64 bit Windows 7/8 whatever compatibility.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sa1lnr (669048)

      "Apple called from the year 2000 and wants their legacy transition strategy back"

      IBM called from 1992 with OS/2 2.x onwards. ;)

  • by voss (52565) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:19AM (#27713027)

    Education users would KILL for a Win9X VM in
    windows 7. A lot of educational applications had to be "retired" because XP wouldnt run them in a secure mode. Educators use good programs until they dont run anymore a lot of programs from 10-15 years ago children in K-2 classrooms still enjoy but wont run on XP.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PRMan (959735)
      You know, they could use VMWare or VirtualBox, but this would require the educators to LEARN something.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:52PM (#27714393)
    Great! This means that I can continue running CARDFILE.EXE from my Windows 3.1 installation. This program has migrated successfully from 3.1 to 95OEMB, 98SP1, 2000, and XP. I've not gone to Vista since I've yet to find a simple, free replacement that would have run under Vista and (hopefully) imported the .CRD files. (Also Vista is full of DRM, and would run like crap on my Vista Ready embedded Nvidia 6150 graphics desktop, and likely break other applications as well.)

    Sometimes you want a program to just do one simple thing well. CARDFILE is one of those programs. Now it looks like it ought to run under the right -- read expensive -- version(s) of W7.

    If there's a better replacement, feel free to point it out to me and I'll appreciate it.

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