Windows 7's release is on the horizon with the debut of its first release candidate this week, but even more troubling than the repeat of the myriad versions that we'll have to sort through, most people won't be able to take advantage of the new 'XP Mode'. XP Mode allows a user to run a concurrent virtual instance on Windows XP while using Windows 7. The idea is to ease the transition of users who still need to run certain applications that are not compatible with Windows Vista or 7. That's all fine and dandy, of course, except a few caveats.
First, you have to be running Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate to use it. Then, you must have a compatible Intel processor that has Intel Virtualization Technology. If that wasn't hard enough to determine, you must also enable the hardware feature in your bios. Why all the complication? One thing I find myself asking with technology is this: Is it going to make life easier?
One of the great things I've found about running Parallels on my Mac is the ease of not just installing the software, but the simplicity of running a parallel operating system. I didn't need any special hardware. I didn't need any additional software. I didn't even have to reboot my computer.
I have not tried the release candidate yet, but I found the Windows 7 beta to be a much more refined iteration of the Windows OS. But it's too bad that Microsoft has not learned from the tactics that Apple has used to differentiate itself in its I'm A Mac campaign: Technology should make the computing experience easy, simple, but more importantly joyful for those who use one. This latest stumble is more evidence that Microsoft just doesn't get it.