Now you should have Windows XP set up as a guest inside VirtualBox on a Linux host. With Guest Additions, XP should now be in some form of fullscreen with mouse and keyboard integration. You can share files to and from the XP guest and Linux host. Your USB devices are available to the XP virtual machine. Heck, even cut, copy, and paste functions bi-directionally between the OSes. Unless you do really heavy 3D gaming, this setup should cover any straggling Windows-only apps that you absolutely need. It essentially does the very same thing that XP Mode does in Windows 7. Is there really a need to shell out extra money to get that functionality from a new version of Windows?
If you decide to keep this setup, then this How To guide saved you money. But how much? In a worst-case scenario, at least $90 assuming you already have a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium from a new PC purchase, in which case you'd need to pay that much to upgrade it to Professional in order to get XPM. In the best case scenario, $170. If Windows 7 Home Basic or Starter edition came installed on your new PC, you need to pay another $80 to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, before paying the $90 for Pro or Ultimate.
Add in the fact that you probably have more than one PC (I have seven). Now you can really start to see how Windows 7 could end up costing serious cash. Even if you already pre-ordered the new Windows for your primary machine, you could still use the Linux/VBox/XP-combo on your others. And unless you're a hardcore gamer, go ahead and run Windows 7 in VirtualBox, too!
If it's the glowing Windows orb, the transparent windows, or gossamer reflection effects that are enticing you to go out and buy Windows 7, stay tuned for our upcoming coverage of Linux Preferences. There, we'll walk you through all the ways to customize your GUI, from panels to widgets and everything in-between. Don't worry, there will be a ton of transparency effects for those interested in cloning the Windows 7 GUI. There will even be some effects, like expo for Compiz Fusion, never before seen on a Windows machine.