Steven Warren over at Train Signal Training has a good tutorial on using the Virtual PC optional download for Windows 7. I have always been a fan of virtualization and I really like what Microsoft is doing here. This gives them a new choice of how to deal with backward compatibility that they didn’t have in the past, that is to simply ignore it.
Backwards compatibility is a double-edged sword. It keeps people from abandoning your platform when things break, but it makes it more difficult to innovate because it requires that you maintain the bad code as well as the good. It’s a good thing to retire old APIs and tools when better options exist, but if you can’t get rid of that second copy of notepad then it puts a lot of pressure on future versions to maintain all of the cruft.
Apple broke ground in this area with first running OS 9 on top of OS X and then Rosetta to run PowerPC apps on Intel chips. Apple certainly leans a different direction than Microsoft in the backwards compatibility arena. Which model is better in the long run is up for debate, but it’s nice to see Microsoft taking the cue and accepting the compromise of virtualization. It will be good to see some of the deprecated interfaces in Windows finally disappear.
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