I picked up on this via Gringod’s twitter: Windows 7 will have an XP Mode, a virtualised environment but with the added bonus that it doesn’t create a new desktop, just virtualised application windows inside Windows 7 that are actually running on an XP SP3 VM.
At first it all sounds pretty damn good, paving the way for MS to ‘do an Apple’ and redesign things more fundamentally without having to worry about being backwards-compatible forever. However, there’s a catch - XP Mode will only be available to licensees of the Professional edition of Windows 7 or above, it will be missing from the entry-level versions. Gah.
Rant mode: all these versions of Windows are bloody stupid. It’s a client operating system for feck’s sake, it’s not an enterprise application where people have wildly different requirements. It sits on a bloody desk doing work for one user at a time, how realistically do you imagine that those tasks are highly partitionable? You know the argument that with Linux, things are too complicated because of the fragmentation? Well, then why are MS deliberately doing the same thing to their own product? It beggars belief.
The argument may be that only businesses and professional users need this backwards compatibility, to which I say total hogwash. I just can’t believe you would come up with basically a silver bullet for finally breaking away from the legacy of poor Windows OS design, and then say you won’t include it in every box, thereby leaving a class of users without the option to rely on that facility as a bridging point. You think only businesses have legacy apps? As a software guy, it seems a stupid decision motivated by the bean counters who want to find new and inventive ways to upsell to customers. The baby is most definitely surfing away on the bathwater.
For God’s sake MS, make this a standard feature. It looks excellent, but locking some customers away from it totally undermines it and just looks like greed. And really, think seriously about unifying your client OS offering into one product and limiting your bizarre urge to partition everything into 20 confusing editions to your higher-end server / developer products. A client OS should be a standard, simple affair.