Microsoft has introduced a tool that it claimes will solve one of the chief complaints businesses have with Windows Vista: that older Windows applications aren't compatible with the new OS.

The Microsoft's Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), which is still in beta, will allow users run legacy Windows applications, including those built for Windows 2000 and Windows XP, on Vista by using virtualization technology, according to a post on The Official MDOP Blog.

"Our primary goal was to deliver an enterprise virtualization solution for the compatibility challenges that IT teams have with some of their line-of-business applications, during the upgrade to new operating systems (like Windows Vista)," according to the post, attributed to Ran Oelgiesser, a MED-V senior product manager. "With MED-V 1.0, you can easily create, deliver and centrally manage virtual Windows XP or 2000 environments (based on Microsoft Virtual PC 2007), and help your users to run legacy applications on their Windows Vista desktops."

By using MED-V in this way, people don't have to test or migrate applications that before would have been incompatible with Vista before running them on the OS, saving companies money and time, he added.

To get the MED-V beta, people can sign up on the Microsoft Connect site

The final release of the software is expected later this year, according to the post. Microsoft acquired the MED-V technology when it closed its purchase of Kidaro last May. In fact, it is included in a larger software package called the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, which rolls up several Microsoft virtualization acquisitions. In addition to Kidaro, the pack is comprised of software from Microsoft's purchases of Softricity, AssetMetrix, Winternals Software and DesktopStandard

Microsoft is investing heavily in desktop- and application-virtualisation technology as a way to alleviate compatibility issues that have especially hampered the adoption of Vista. Many businesses opted to skip Vista and continue to run Windows XP until Vista's follow-up release, Windows 7, is available, and application-compatibility was one of several factors affecting their decision.

Microsoft just released the first Windows 7 beta last week, and some expect the final release of the OS as early as August or September, although Microsoft has not given a firm date for when it will be finished.