Windows 7 XP Mode won’t work on some Core 2 CPUs

Written by Ben Hardwidge

May 6, 2009 | 13:58

Tags: #2 #7 #amd-v #athlon #core #duo #hardware #mode #pentium #phenom #quad #virtualisation #virtualization #vt #windows #xp

Companies: #amd #intel #microsoft

If you were looking forward to getting easy backward compatibility from Windows 7’s XP Mode, then you may be disappointed if you have the wrong type of processor. It turns out that Windows 7’s much-talked-about XP Mode requires hardware-assisted virtualisation technology, and this isn’t supported by a number of CPUs, including some current Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad chips.

Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report revealed the findings after trying out a new BETA of Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Release Candidate 1. “For your PC to run XP Mode in Windows 7,” says Bott, “the CPU has to support Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V), and this support has to be enabled in the BIOS.”

On the one hand, this is good, as it means that XP Mode will at least run pretty quickly. On the other hand, though, a number of current CPUs don’t support hardware virtualisation, and you won’t get any clues from the CPU model number or logo too. According to Intel, 18 Core 2 Duo CPUs don’t support the technology, including the E7500, E8190, E4700 and T5550. Meanwhile, three Core 2 Quad chips are also lacking Intel VT support, including the Q8300 and Q8200.

A handful of NetBurst chips also support the technology, including the 900-series Pentium Extreme CPUs, and a few Pentium D chips too. Owners of current AMD chips appear to have been a bit luckier here, as all the current Phenom and Phenom II chips support AMD-V, as well as AM2-based Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2 chips of the F and G families. However, no Socket 939 CPUs or Sempron chips support the technology.

Bott likens this situation to the recent “Vista Capable” debacle, in which machines with Intel integrated graphics systems that couldn’t run Aero were still labelled as “Vista Capable”. He asks “how much positive Windows 7 buzz will be wiped out in coming weeks and months when consumers and business buyers discover that a heavily hyped new Windows 7 feature, XP Mode, won’t work on some Intel-based products?”

Do you own a CPU without hardware virtualisation technology, and would you feel compelled to upgrade in order to get access to Windows 7’s XP Mode? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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