Today, Microsoft Corporation has announced that XP Mode, the Windows 7 add-on that will allow users with the proper hardware to run a virtual version of Windows XP within Windows 7, has entered Release Candidate status. There are several new features in XP Mode RC. XP Mode programs will now offer users a jumplist of most recently opened files with that program. This brings one of Windows 7's more useful productivity features into play with older programs that wouldn't otherwise have it. Not only will users be able to directly start their most recently used XP Mode programs from the Windows 7 taskbar, but they will be able to launch specific files from the Windows 7 taskbar too. XP Mode RC also means it is possible to use USB devices in XP Mode without having to make it full-screen, directly from the Windows 7 taskbar.

Before I get into what has changed from beta to RC, I’d like to take a moment to clarify what Windows XP Mode is designed for, and highlight the point that in many cases Windows XP Mode will not be necessary. Windows 7 has a strong compatibility story with Windows Vista, and many applications that currently run on Windows XP-based or Windows Vista-based PCs should just run natively on Windows 7 – allowing you to take advantage of better performance, better management and better security built into Windows 7. In most cases, we recommend running applications natively in Windows 7. 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. Users can run and launch Windows XP productivity applications in Windows XP Mode directly from a Windows 7 desktop. I also strongly recommend that customers install anti-malware and anti-virus software in Windows XP Mode so that Windows XP Mode environment is well protected. For customers that manage several Windows PCs running Windows XP Mode and want to simplify management tasks, we offer Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

New Features in Windows XP Mode RC

Based on feedback from the Windows XP Mode beta, we’ve made several improvements to the usability of Windows XP Mode for small and medium-sized business users:

* You can now attach USB devices to Windows XP Mode applications directly from the Windows 7 task-bar. This means your USB devices, such as printers and flash drives, are available to applications running in Windows XP Mode, without the need to go into full screen mode.
* You can now access Windows XP Mode applications with a “jump-list”. Right click on the Windows XP Mode applications from the Windows 7 task bar to select and open most recently used files.
* You now have the flexibility of customizing where Windows XP Mode differencing disk files are stored.
* You can now disable drive sharing between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7 if you do not need that feature.
* The initial setup now includes a new user tutorial about how to use Windows XP Mode.

Download: Windows XP Mode Release Candidate


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Sammy Feliciano