Windows 7 XP Mode – Help, Hindrance or Hype?

Running XP Mode in Windows 7 is not a slam-dunk by any means.

The more information we get on XP Mode the more it’s beginning to look pretty kludgy. There are three articles worth reading that offer first looks at what’s involved and whether or not you can run it on your PC.

First, not all CPUs support running XP Mode as stated HERE:

“The new Windows Virtual PC (now available as a beta release for the Windows 7 Release Candidate) requires hardware-assisted virtualization. For your PC to run XP Mode in Windows 7, 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.”

AND it turns out a LOT of CPUs in fact do not support this type of virtualization. For example, about half of Core 2 Duo CPUs do not support virtualization, as well as all the Core 2 Quad 8000 series. So off the bat, there will be a hardware issue. It also involves initializing this feature in BIOS – good luck getting into BIOS on any number of name boxes.

Second, XP Mode will only be available for Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise versions – the high-priced spread only.

Getting past these steps gets you to loading and running XP Mode. According to Window’s 7 – What’s Real and What’s Not?:

  • “Setup [for Office 2000] came with a dialog asking for the Windows XP SP3 CD in order to modify protected files. I had no such CD. Even downloading and mounting the official SP3 ISO did not fix it. I canceled setup and re-ran it with most install options deselected, and this time, it completed.
  • I started Word 2000, and after a couple of minutes’ initialization, it opened in its own window, just like a native application. Impressive, until I started typing and found a severe delay between striking a key and text appearing on the page.
  • Integration with the host operating system is excellent. You miss out on pretty thumbnail previews, but the important stuff just works.
  • While Windows XP Mode is a valuable tool for running otherwise incompatible applications, it is hiding rather than removing complexity. Underneath, there are still two operating systems to maintain.”

Another view (Hands on Windows XP Mode):

“So, what’s the bottom line here? Well, XP Mode is a nice addition to Windows 7, but only in so much as you get a free copy of XP SP3 and some degree of desktop/file system integration. If you can live with working with XP through XP Mode, and can live without protecting that virtual XP OS by using snapshots, roll backs and cloning, then XP Mode might be useful to you. However, if you’re the kind of person already comfortable with running and maintaining PCs, XP mode will seem primitive at times.”

These views are off the beta versions, so the final release may correct some of these performance issues. However, the take-away seems to me that unless you’re really wedded to some XP apps, XP Mode is a work-around and not much more than that – its’ not a long term solution. I wonder if most users will find the cure worse than the disease.


About Joe Citarella 242 Articles
Joe Citarella was one of the founders of in 1998. He contributed as a site administrator and writer for over 10 years before retiring. Joe played an integral part in building and sustaining the community.

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