Microsoft is adding a "Windows XP Mode" to Windows 7, in a move to encourage users to make the switch to the software vendor's forthcoming operating system.
The firm has built its XP mode into Windows 7 by using the Windows Virtual PC technology Microsoft acquired in 2003, to make the OS compatible to run apps designed for Vista's predecessor.
Redmond was keen to emphasise in a blog post late on Friday that it's hoping to woo small businesses to move to Windows 7 by bigging up the XP mode feature.
"Windows XP Mode is specifically designed to help small businesses move to Windows 7," said Microsoft. "Windows XP Mode provides you with the flexibility to run many older productivity applications on a Windows 7 based PC."
Users can install apps directly into the virtualised XP environment. The applications are then published to the Windows 7 desktop and they can be run from within that OS.
Microsoft said it will release a beta of Windows XP mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate "soon" but wasn't more specific about when the test builds will land.
When Microsoft released Vista over two years ago, many businesses and individuals complained about compatibility snafus with applications that simply wouldn't work within the new OS.
Presumably Redmond has built in its virtualised XP insurance policy into Windows 7, a release candidate for which is expected on 30 April, to avoid some of the problems that dogged Vista from day one. ®