Smart move from Redmond

A previously NDA’d feature of Windows 7 has finally gone public; basically, Win7 comes with a virtualization-based “XP mode” that creates a virtual machine to host any apps that can’t run in a post-XP environment.

The real bonus here is that it allows Microsoft, like Apple before them, to make a break with backward compatibility. OS X was a quantum leap over System 9 precisely because they made no real effort to allow backward compatibility outside a “compatibility box” that was the next best thing to virtualization (since virtualization wasn’t really an option 9 years ago).

Microsoft has, so far, not made the same kind of break with the past, and that’s hamstrung the evolution of the platform. If they do this right, they’ll be able to make the same kind of leap with 7 or whatever comes after 7 that Apple made in 2000.

This is a good thing for everyone; I’m not a huge Windows fan, but I want Microsoft in the race in the same way I want the GOP in the race. Competition is good for everybody.

2 thoughts on “Smart move from Redmond

  1. Vista already has a feature to run things in XP emulation mode. I discovered this after purchasing my Vista machine (it had just come out, and I needed a new computer last week, and there were no xp machines left) and it wouldn’t play any of my games. In xp emulation mode, it would sort of play some of them (ultimately I needed a new video card), but I question what that really means.

    I like the competition, but if the GOP continues down that path, they’ll wind up representing 30% of us, the hardcore wingnuts who still think Dick Cheney has anything to add to the conversation.

  2. Emulation or “compatibility modes” are not the same thing as virtualization, which provides a virtual machine environment that is for most intents and purposes indistinguishable from an actual computer running the OS in question.