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Fujitsu-Siemens pulls a Sony with Windows 7 virtual switch off

Windows XP Mode killer

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Fujitsu-Siemens has become the second maker of PCs to earn the contempt of customers for apparently preventing its machines' BIOS from working with Intel chip virtualization.

The BIOS of its ESPRIMO Mobile V55x5 range do not work with the hardware virtualization technology (VT) in Intel's Core 2 Duo chips. It is not clear whether Fujitu's LifeBook PCs, which also uses Core 2 Duo, has are also prevented from working with VT.

That means customers who buy ESPRIMO Mobile V55x5 cannot run their legacy Windows XP applications in the forthcoming Windows 7 from Microsoft. Windows 7 will debut something called Windows XP Mode, which works with the Core 2 Duo chips VT to allow these legacy applications to run inside Windows 7.

Despite this major omission, Fujitsu's web site is promoting an upgrade-to-Windows-7 campaign to move your existing PCs with Windows Vista to the operating system that uses VT. The fact that your ESPRIMO doesn't work with VT, though, means your Windows XP applications may not work.

Also, the Core 2 Duo has been clearly labeled as one of the ESPRIMO's "special features" enabling what Fujitsu called "more responsive multitasking" and the ability to "realize greater energy-efficiency and reduce support costs."

But nowhere on the Windows 7 upgrade program site or in the features list of the ESPRIMO machines does it say that the PCs BIOS don't work with the Core 2 Duo's VT.

Fujitsu did not immediately respond to our questions on the issue.

The issue has come to a head as PC makers begin pushing their laptops as Microsoft offers a variety of pre-orders and money off on Windows 7 to boost sales in anticipation of the planned operating system's launch on October 22.

In the case of Fujitsu customers, such as Reg reader Rob O'Leary, they are selecting new ESPRIMO machines explicitly because of the processor's VT features.

Naturally, allegations are now flying that Fujitsu has misrepresented the PCs' capabilities. According to a customer on a Fujitsu forum here: "I cannot tell you how annoyed I am with F-S. It seems like mis-selling or mis-representation to me. If I had wanted to buy an ordinary core 2 duo processor, I could have spent a lot less money. How about you write a bios update that allows VT to be enabled, as expected by all your customers who bought VT capable processors?"

Another customer put it more bluntly: "FSC, your support SUCKS."

Virtualization is a standard feature in Intel's chips, and Fujitsu customers have therefore been surprised and become angry to discover their PCs do not work the feature.

On forum member posted this, from Fujitsu's support site: "Unfortunately, the BIOS of the ESPRIMO Mobile V55x5 does not support Intel Virtual Technology (VT)"

The post is dated October 2008, but judging by subsequent postings to the forum people have been buying Fujitsu machines as late as June this year to find the BIOS still does not work with VT.

Fujitsu follows in the footsteps of Sony, which was pounded recently for disabling the BIOS in its Vaio laptops so they also cannot work with the Core 2 Duo chips VT.

Sony claimed it had been taken by surprise at the level of interest in VT on its machines.

Sony was also hammered for not making it clear that the Vaios do not work with VT. Senior manager for product marketing Xavier Lauwaert promised The Reg in the second week of August that Sony's site would make it clearer that VT is not enabled in the machines. The changes have yet to appear on Sony's site. ®

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