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Intel playing virtual silly buggers

Potential 'Vista Capable' disaster all over again

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Opinion You're supposed to be able to run an x86 app on any Intel x86 (or AMD x86) processor. That's what x86 compatibility means, right? Wrong: Windows 7 XP Mode won't run on many multi-core Intel processors because Intel is arsing about with its Intel VT feature.

For a PC to run Windows 7's XP Mode, the system must support either Intel Virtualisation Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualisation (AMD-V) and have such support enabled in the BIOS. Several, in fact many, Intel multi-core CPUs don't support Intel VT despite other CPUs in the same family supporting it.

So a key Windows 7 operating system feature is not consistently supported across all Intel's X86 processors because Intel VT is not part of the x86 instruction set.

It darn well should be and Intel should stop messing about.

The Core 2 Quad Q8200 does not support Intel VT, although other Core 2 Quad CPUs, such as the Q9400, Q9550 and Q9650, do. If you go ahead a buy a Windows 7-supported PC, there is no way you can be sure that Windows 7's XP Mode is supported unless you research Intel's CPU web pages or the manufacturer specifically says so.

This could be reminiscent of the Vista Capable fiasco where PCs running Intel graphics chips could not use use Vista's then new Aero interface because they weren't capable enough, although the PCs were branded Vista Capable. Microsoft didn't want to irritate Intel by including Aero support as a key requirement for being Vista Capable.

We need to be told by manufacturers whether specific PCs are XP Mode-capable or not, as millions, tens of millions or more, of desktop and laptop users are still using XP and need their XP applications supported if they move to Windows 7. If Microsoft is serious about supporting legacy applications then it needs to define Windows 7 support for any PC as including XP Mode support.

If Intel complains then Redmond should tell it to take a hike and fix processors in its range that are missing Intel VT support. What's more important; end-user quality and loyalty or keeping processor suppliers with inconsistent Windows 7 XP Mode support sweet and happy?

Supporting Intel with the Vista Capable brand weakened Vista's brand image and caused ongoing law suits. Here's a question for Steve Ballmer: "Does Redmond listen to its ultimate customers and take their concerns seriously or not?" ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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