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Windows XP Mode: Certify like you mean it

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Windows 7's XP Mode does not mean you can completely avoid upgrading your Windows XP applications or entirely dodge Windows 7 certification, Microsoft has warned.

ISVs and end users will only get a Windows XP experience when running their Windows XP applications in the new operating system's Windows XP Mode. To experience the full Windows 7 operating system, applications should run natively. And that means conforming to the traditional path of upgrading, testing, and certifying against the latest version of Windows - in this case, Windows 7.

To emphasis the point, Microsoft told The Reg that it's planning a single-tier logo program for Windows 7 for certified hardware and software. Such a program should, at least, help avoid the confusion and resulting legal complications that surrounded certification for Windows Vista.

Meanwhile, Microsoft had announced a beta of the next version of its Enterprise Desktop Virtualization MED-V, will be available 90 days after general availability of Windows 7. That's widely expected later this year.

MED-V 1.0, released this year and part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), lets you run legacy versions for Windows 2000 or Windows XP on Windows Vista. MED-V 2.0 will allow administrators to deploy and manage 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.

News of Windows XP Mode broke Monday and immediately generated excitement and hype. Windows XP Mode will use Microsoft's Virtual PC and - unlike other virtualization technologies such as Microsoft's Hyper-V - will not mean you run the operating system as a separate environment. Instead, you should be able to run your Windows XP applications in Windows 7 and access them from the Windows 7 desktop or start menu.

This does not spell the end of Windows 7 certification and testing, though. Scott Woodgate, director of desktop virtualization for MDOP, told The Reg ISVs and end users will still need to upgrade their software to Windows 7 if they want to access native capabilities, such as reduced memory space or the Aero interface.

"If you are an ISV, there are tech constraints of running XP Mode versus running natively on Windows 7 - the Windows 7 experience is better," Woodgate said. "Ultimately there's lots of differences between XP and Windows 7.

"We think this is a good compatibility solution, but don't think it's something ISVs will rely on if they want the best experience for their applications."

According to Woodgate, Microsoft introduced Windows XP Mode to help small-and medium-sized businesses. Windows XP has huge penetration in the market thanks to the delays in shipping Windows Vista and subsequent failures that saw Windows XP's life extended. Windows XP is a default operating system for many, and the move to Windows 7 will be slow. Windows XP Mode is planned for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions.

Another question after news of Widows XP Mode broke was whether customers would need to buy a new license for software running on the machine. Woodgate said customers will get a free full, pre-activated copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 plus Microsoft's Windows Virtual PC to run Windows XP Mode.

Whether you will need to buy an additional license for your non-Microsoft software will depend on your chosen software vendor's policy when it comes to software licensing in virtualized environments. ®

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