Reality Check – Windows XP Mode and Intel’s chips

So, there have been quite a few stories recently about support for Windows 7’s new ‘Windows XP Mode’.

‘Windows XP Mode’ is a feature that will be available with some versions of Windows 7. The short version is this: it will let you run a copy of Windows XP SP3 on your Windows 7 PC or notebook within a virtual partition using hardware virtualisation. ‘Windows XP Mode’ will however have some cool bells and whistles including great integration into Windows 7 (copy and paste will work etc…). This is another very cool use of our VT technology.

Intel introduced its Virtualization Technology in 2005 and has shipped over 100 Million chips with the feature. Windows XP Mode is targeted for business customers. It is available on the mid to higher end versions of Windows 7 and is supported in hardware by many Intel processors. Intel vPro technology PCs are required to have an Intel VT capable CPU and Intel VT capable BIOS. They are the best platforms for testing and deploying Microsoft Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode.

However, there have been a lot of articles berating the fact that consumers with Intel processors without VT will ‘lose out’ on the Windows XP Mode, or that it ‘won’t work’.

Cnet for example mentions that there are at least 30 versions of consumer laptops using the VT’less T6400 version of the Core 2 Duo processor.

Here is an example of such a notebook: It comes with Windows Vista Home premium. (As do most of them)

Here is the list of Windows 7 versions that will ship according to ZDnet: Home Premium is a middle sku.

- Windows 7 Starter Edition (for emerging market and netbook users)

- Windows 7 Home Basic (for emerging market customers only)

- Windows 7 Home Premium (the main “Media Center” equivalent)

- Windows 7 Professional (the business SKU for home users and non-enterprise licensees)

- Windows 7 Enterprise (for volume licensees)

- Windows 7 Ultimate (for consumers who want/need business features)

And finally according to TheRegister.co.uk: The Windows XP Mode will only come with Windows 7 Professional and up.

So not having VT on these consumer laptops is not going to be an issue – because the consumer versions of Windows 7 (Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium) do not include Windows XP Mode.

Storm in a teacup anyone?

UPDATE: This is from Microsoft’s website:

PressPass: What types of applications are suited for Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC stand-alone?

Woodgate: Windows XP Mode is best suited for older business and productivity applications such as accounting, inventory and similar applications. Windows XP Mode is not aimed at consumers because many consumer applications require extensive use of hardware interfaces such as 3-D graphics, audio, and TV tuners that do not work well under virtualization today.

2 Responses to Reality Check – Windows XP Mode and Intel’s chips

  1. Skynet says:

    but wait a sec.
    what if someone went/need XPM , and upgraded to says pro edtion.
    he will get stuck then

  2. Nick, the worries are mostly about business users who have already bought Core2 Duo or Quad machines which lack VT.
    Going forward the aim is to have OEMs install XPMode on the business editions and they will make sure the machines have suitable chips.
    There hasn’t been an official announcement on whether Windows-Virtual-PC will only be on business SKUs. Virtual-PC-200x today is available for all SKUs but home ones don’t have a licence to run a second instance of Windows. (Which implies Windows-Virtual-PC but not the pre-configured XP VM)
    My worry as a Microsoft person is that people start complaining their PCs don’t do what they expected them to do. Take the example Ed Bott quotes http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=946 would most people expect a core 2 quad to work with everything ?
    Will they blame Intel, Microsoft or the OEM ? All 3 is my guess.