Bill from California writes:
I am considering upgrading to Windows 7, but I would like some clarification relative to the XP Mode. Will the XP Mode allow the programs currently running on my XP Home OS function properly in Windows 7? Windows 8 or 8.1 are definitely out of the question. Thank you for any information you can provide.
Windows 7 XP Mode is available only in Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 7 Ultimate editions. So, if you’re planning on running XP mode, you’ll want to make sure you have Windows 7 Ultimate. Right now I see Windows 7 Ultimate available online for around $300.
Windows XP mode is a virtual operating system that runs a lot like a program in Windows 7. It is a functional licensed version of XP and should let you run almost any program as if you were running an XP machine. I’ve used XP mode in Windows 7 myself, and I can verify that it really does work.
A lot of programs that run in XP might work with Windows 7 without the XP mode, so you should check out the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor  and see if you even need XP mode at all. Be aware that some hardware that works in Windows 7 won’t be detected when you’re working in XP Mode and programs with hardware requirements can be problematic.
Also, remember that support for XP mode will be ending on April 8 as well, so don’t count on any bug fixes and I wouldn’t use any programs that access the Internet in XP Mode.
I also wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Windows 8. I find it to be a fast, stable program. The interface is very different at first, but the interface to XP was very different the first time you used it as well. Eventually you got the hang of it.