Microsoft has said that Windows 7 users will still be able to use programmes designed for Windows XP through a new virtual mode.

Posting the information on the company's Windows Blog, Scott Woodgate, a member of the Windows 7 team has confirmed that users keen to take advantage of the new offering will be able to:

"Install suitable applications directly in Windows XP Mode which is a virtual Windows XP environment running under Windows Virtual PC".

The news is likely to be welcomed by businesses worried that some programmes won't work if they move to the new operating system.

The applications, according to Microsoft will then be published to the Windows 7 desktop allowing you to run them directly from Windows 7.

The company says the feature has been specifically designed to help small businesses move to Windows 7, although some people are already questioning why you would need to upgrade to Windows 7 if you're already running the software you need.

Woodgate says in the post that the company will soon be releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode, Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate.