Now that I had installed Windows 7 on my Acer Aspire 5610, I set about this new thing called "XP Mode". If you have a lot of XP software, and who doesn't, you will be considering this. What it does is set up a way for you to run your old software in a box that looks like a Windows XP desktop within your Windows 7 machine.
It looks just like your current Windows XP desktop, if you're still on Windows XP. The way it works is that Microsoft is going to give you free for download a copy of Windows XP called XP Mode that will only install on a Windows 7 machine. You will download that (Its a big one, 1.4GB of disc space) and a copy of "Windows Virtual PC 7" which is fairly small. This only runs on Windows 7 so if you haven't gone that route, this discussion won't help you. If you're on a Mac I'd suggest looking elsewhere like VMWare Fusion 3 that I'm evaluating for my boss at work.
There is also another wrinkle. Windows Virtual PC 7 will ONLY run on specific computers and only after you twiddle with your bios to turn on something called Virtualization. If you have that you will have a great experience, if you don't I'll have a later post on what to do there, since I had to go that route for this machine.
To test this, surf over to this link and run the program that is on the page called the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor". That link will give you an idea of first whether your machine will run Windows 7.
Further you will want to look at this link which will tell you if you can run Windows 7 XP mode. You will download a program and it will run and look at your hardware and tell you whether you have that little bit of extra goodies in your computer that will work with XP Mode. The program is called "havdetectiontool.exe" as of this writing.
In my case it said no. It would have saved me time surfing some really confusing pages on Acer and Intel had I done that but I'm hard headed.
Assuming it says yes, then surf the XP mode page here and select your language and version of Windows 7 that you have, and yes you do need to know that. In my case it was Professional 32 bit and English.
Step 4 says download XP mode, and install it. When that is done, download and install Windows Virtual PC.
At that point you're installed, you probably have some reboots to go through and some set ups, but I have seen XP Mode, its worth the effort, and lets you run Windows XP like you were used to. It runs almost as fast as the Native Windows 7 that you are running as the PC operating system at about 97% of normal speed - from what has been reported.
The only gotcha is that XP mode will only be supported until 2014 so better get going huh? Well by then you'll have other worries and other PCs but for now it works like a champ from what I saw on my Network Admin's laptop.