In last week's blog, "Get the Most Out of Windows XP Mode with These Tips," I showed you several very cool tips that you can employ if you are using Windows XP Mode in Windows 7. That article drew some criticism about Windows XP Mode that I thought raised some very valid concerns. I have heard similar concerns from other folks as well. As such, I thought that I should address them in this week's blog since they have equally valid solutions.
The main gist of these concerns refers to the fact that Windows XP Mode is touted as one of the major features in Windows 7, yet it is available only in the higher-end versions of Windows 7 — Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate. Furthermore, most consumer computer outlets typically carry the lower-end versions of Windows 7 — mainly Home Premium. Therefore, it may be difficult for the average consumer to take advantage of this great feature.
It is also possible that a less-informed consumer could purchase a computer with Windows 7 Home Premium from a consumer outlet thinking that because they are getting Windows 7, they would have access to Windows XP Mode. To further complicate the matter, there is still a lot of concern about the various CPUs out there and the necessary built-in hardware-assisted virtualization technology.
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Determining hardware-assisted virtualization support
Determining hardware-assisted virtualization support with respect to Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode isn't as difficult as might appear to be. In fact, AMD claims that all of its currently shipping CPUs, with the exception of the Sempron chips, provide the AMD-V hardware-assisted virtualization technology.If you are not sure if your AMD CPU provides AMD-V support or if you just want to check, you can download and run the Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Tool. No installation is required, but you must have administrator privileges to run it. When you do, you'll hopefully see a display like the one shown in Figure A.
If your CPU provides hardware-assisted virtualization technology, you'll see this verification message.Intel, on the other hand, produces such a wide variety of CPUs models, and not all their CPUs provide the Intel VT hardware-assisted virtualization technology. If you need to check if your Intel CPU provides the Intel VT hardware-assisted virtualization technology, you can use the Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Tool or you can download and install the Intel Processor Identification Utility. When you run it, hopefully you'll see a display like the one shown in Figure B.
If your Intel CPU provides the Intel VT hardware-assisted virtualization technology, you'll see this verification message.
If you are shopping for a new computer at a consumer outlet and want proof that the CPU in the system you are looking at does indeed provide hardware-assisted virtualization support, just ask the salesman to run one of these utilities on the floor model.
The Anytime Upgrade
When it comes to purchasing a Windows 7 system at a consumer outlet and getting your hands on Windows XP Mode, you can always take advantage of the Windows Anytime Upgrade and easily go from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional. While most of the folks to whom I suggested this option balked at the thought of paying more to upgrade the operating system of a brand-new computer, it really isn't a bad way to go.
For example, you could walk into Best Buy and pick up a Dell Inspiron laptop with an Intel 2.2GHZ Core 2 Duo, 4GB of memory, 500 GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit for a little over $700. While at Best Buy you could also purchase the Windows Anytime Upgrade: Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional Upgrade package for $89.99.
So, for a little under $800, you could get a Windows 7 Professional system at a consumer outlet and get your hands on Windows XP Mode. This is a pretty good deal, especially when you consider that the price of similarly configured system with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit at Dell.com sells for about $900. Of course, Dell offers special deals all the time and there's a good chance that you wouldn't have to pay the full price. However, you would still have to wait for shipping.
The bottom line is that with the availability of Windows Anytime Upgrade, there is no reason to miss out on Windows XP Mode, just because the computer you are purchasing at a consumer outlet comes with Windows 7 Home Premium.
(Alternatively, you could also purchase the Windows Anytime Upgrade: Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade package for $139.99 along with the $700 Dell Inspiron laptop. That is about $840 to get your hands on Windows XP Mode at a consumer outlet.)
What's your take?
Do you have Windows 7 Home Premium and want access to Windows XP Mode? Does using the Windows Anytime Upgrade sound like a good solution to you? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you?
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Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.