Microsoft has released Windows XP Mode to manufacturing on October 1, company officials said, and it will be generally available on on October 22, the launch day for Windows 7.

XP Mode is a Microsoft virtualization technology aimed primarily at small/mid-size business users (SMBs), and is designed to allow them to run legacy Windows XP applications on Windows 7.

Microsoft made a near-final release candidate build of XP Mode available to testers in August.

The final version of XP Mode will be available to Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate users. It will be downloadable from the Microsoft Web site and also available directly from certain PC makers “based on their manufacturing cycle,” according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

Windows 7 users don’t have to have a Software Assurance license from Microsoft in order to get XP Mode. Microsoft is positioning XP Mode as a “last-mile compatibility solution” that is designed for use when Microsoft’s Application Compatibility Toolkit and other means don’t result in older apps working on Windows 7.

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