Now that Windows 7 has garnered the trust of the general public as an effective, appealing OS, the barriers to the end of Windows XP have begun to erode at an accelerated pace. Beyond the trust issue, the two biggest barriers remaining are a clear ROI case and compatibility with line of business applications that only run on Windows XP.
Thanks to a patch Microsoft released earlier this week, the latter of those two barriers may be about to disappear as well. From its release, Microsoft equipped Windows 7's Professional and Ultimate editions with a "Windows XP Mode" that would run all of those old applications, in anticipation of objections from businesses all over. However, that special mode required a PC capable of virtualization technology, a feature generally reserved for higher end PCs that are rarely found in business environments -- especially in those of smaller businesses. Microsoft's new patch relaxes those requirements. Now, PCs no longer require virtualization to run XP Mode.
Microsoft still recommends that users with the capability continue to run XP Mode in a hardware-assisted virtualized environment because performance will be better. Still, for businesses impressed with the productivity enhancements of Windows 7 but bound to XP by an old application, the change can now be made without a hefty investment in new machines.
All businesses still running Windows XP should strongly consider making the jump to Windows 7 for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the days that Microsoft will continue to support Windows XP with updates and security patches are numbered. Running an unsupported OS is extremely dangerous, and it's always best to budget for an upgrade now rather than be forced to scramble when the time comes that you have little choice.
For more info on Windows 7's enhancements, click here.