back to article Intel playing virtual silly buggers

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 …

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  1. David
    Flame

    aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgghhh, not again

    fix it fix it fix it fix it fix it fix it fix it

  2. Trevor
    Thumb Down

    errm

    "The Core 2 Quad Q8200 does not support Intel VT, although other Core 2 Quad CPUs, such as the Q9400, Q9550 and Q9650, do"

    What? You mean the later processors support something the earlier one doesn't?

    Come on. My new magimix has a special blade on it that does something strange with vegetables that my previous magixmix didn't. But they are both magimixes in the same "family".

    The new nissan micra has buttons the old nissan micra didn't, they are both in the Micra family, under the Nissan heading.

    the only way this is news is if a processor previous to the Q8200 has VT support, and to be honest, I can be just as arsed as you to look it up, ie not at all.

  3. groovyf
    Flame

    Not so sure...

    I'm of the opinion that XP Mode is really only geared towards the more tech-savvy people around, and it's those people who would be up-to-date with knowledge regarding what CPUs support Virtualisation.

    Joe Bloggs on the street won't care about XP Mode.

    Also, I'm not so sure it's the same as the "Vista Capable" debacle, as I can't see MS (or Intel for that mater) making special stickers/making big bones about the fact Windows 7 supports this XP Mode.

    My 2p

  4. Dan

    Nice!

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

    I'm liking the impartial, 'facts-only' reporting style here!

  5. Larry
    Thumb Down

    Not worth the hassles

    Not that I was going to rush out and obtain Windows 7 but this latest fiasco just confirms my thinking that XP is working just fine. Why do I need to learn all the new Quirks (Redmond features) that Windows 7 will dump on me? I need the operating system to talk to the hard drives, printers and NOT make me have to learn a whole new way of doing things that is counter-intuitive to what I've been doing. My 4 computers running XP Pro work with all their apps just fine. The one laptop with Vista on it is a Royal Pain In the Arse. I was considering that the XP Mode might make Win 7 worth the effort. NOPE, not a single computer I own has a CPU that supports VT. So, no upgrades, I'll stick with XP for a few more years. It's worked well, especially with my Office 2000 and all the other apps that I've stopped getting pointless upgrades for. I want the computer to work for me, not me working for the computer.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Guy Thouret
    Coat

    Why research when you can type a one-liner?

    "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."

    Well, you could fire up a terminal in your linux distro and enter the following:

    if [ `grep -c vmx /proc/cpuinfo` -ge 0 ]; then echo Supports Intel VT; else echo No Support for Intel VT; fi

    Which will give you the answer you are looking for.

    Then again if you were running a linux distro you wouldn't be looking at Windows 7...

  8. Cameron Colley

    SImple solution...

    ...buy AMD.

  9. Ash
    Thumb Down

    Education

    I'm testing the RC in a Primary education environment; Apps don't need updating that often as they're so simple, and often relevant across many curriculum changes.

    If Win7 won't run them, then we won't get Win7. I don't care whos' fault it is.

    There are plenty of F/OSS alternatives for education, with three packages (TuxType, TuxMath, and TuxPaint) being *very* popular with students and teachers alike. These run on Linux, and as such further reduce costs of deployment. Just one more string to my "Edubuntu is a good package" bow.

  10. Jon Press

    Good luck with that...

    A couple of years back I tried to buy a PC that supported virtualization for use with Parallels. Try and make sense of the CPU-vendors part numbers and feature matrices. Most of the motherboard manufacturers don't tell you what they support and what they don't. Buy a "big name" PC with a proprietary motherboard and you don't have a chance.

    Certainly the HP machine I finally bought, although the AMD chip supported virtualization, had no BIOS support and wasn't going to get any. It took several letters to HP's management hierarchy to confirm this (nothing sensible being forthcoming from their technical support people) and fortunately the reseller then agreed to take the kit back as the lack of support for an advertised CPU feature ought to have been made clear at the point of sale.

    So, it's already almost impossible to predict whether a particular piece of hardware is going to support virtualization and I wish Microsoft luck supporting a feature which will essentially work at random.

  11. Bronek Kozicki
    Thumb Up

    well said, but ...

    ... the author have apparently forgotten who is the real Microsoft customer . Hint - income from OEMs in Windows sales far exceeds that from individuals. Saying "Windows tax on new PCs" is not coincidence. And guess what - these OEMs have plenty of PCs for sale equipped with "less capable" processors.

  12. Teoh Han Hui
    Stop

    XPM

    You are missing the point here. XP Mode is not for regular users upgrading from Windows XP. It is for businesses that still have a need to run (perhaps in-house) legacy applications.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    Ha ha

    If you need XP that much, why install Win7 at all. The only thing it seems to add is DX10.

    Are we going to see WINE on Ubuntu NATIVELY (no virtualisation or emulation) run win apps better?

    Have MS lost the XP source?

    Do Intel & MS talk these days with Intel promoting Moblin.

  14. Michael Sheils
    Stop

    Key Feature?

    Not for consumers it isn't as all of there software would have been made Vista compatible years ago, the ONLY people for who XP Mode will be useful is large institutions/companies with legacy software to run.

    Intel always save cash on their chips by butting good shit from everything except the top line of a family and then selling all of their chips as if they all had the features.

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    BIOS support

    You mention this, but fail to give it the emphasis that I think it deserves. I've got a box at home with a VT-capable processor, but the BIOS refuses to let me switch it on and the motherboard manufacturer (Gigabyte) apparently don't give a shout so there are no BIOS updates to be found. (I've got a thumping big hole above 3GB as well, despite running in 64-bit mode.) So yeah, Intel need to address this, but so do others.

  16. Robert Brooke

    Tail-Dog

    Sorry but this would be the tail wagging the dog. MS could perfectly well create a virtualised environment that didn't require Intel-VT or AMD-V, witness other very capable products that do, e.g. Sun VirtualBox. MS didn't, so don't complain at Intel for not historically selling CPUs that don't have a feature that nobody knew was required!

    The major market for this feature is PCs in public or private corporations, even if new, these may or may not have hardware virtualisation. If they don't that's hardly Intels fault, as even new large corporate PCs will probably be based on standard procurement specifications dating back 1 or more years, before Windows 7 + XP Virtualisation were even a twinkle in S Ballmers eye.

    Going forward I agree it would make business sense if Intel stopped selling CPUs without hardware virtualisation, however I repeat my initial comment, it's MS that decided to develop this to only work with hardware virtualisation.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Guy

    and they wonder why people use Windws...

    "if [ `grep -c vmx /proc/cpuinfo` -ge 0 ]; then echo Supports Intel VT; else echo No Support for Intel VT; fi"

    Of course, how silly of me not to know that. If so easy to remember.....

  18. James Le Cuirot
    Linux

    The Q6600 has it

    My Q6600 has it. I guess I've been taking it for granted. Not that I particularly want to run Windows. I only run XP under Linux's KVM.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Excuse me...

    ..but why are you getting arsey at Intel for this!? It's microsoft who are coding for not-yet-standard chipset features and causing the problems!

    Windows 7 really is starting to sound like it could actually be (shock horror - oh yeah, I'm going there) *worse* than vista!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Who's fault is this?

    Microsoft creates an OS feature that relies on a hardware capability only present in a subset of CPUs that the OS is likely to run on. How is this Intels fault?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Why is Intel the villain?

    Am I missing something here? Why is Intel being held up as the villain of the hour here?

    Firstly you don't need to have Intel-VT or AMD-V to make a perfectly good Virtual Machine, see Sun VirtualBox as a prime example.

    Secondly, why can't Microsoft make an operating system which natively supports XP applications? You have to remember here that Intel is in the business of making processors, not supporting or providing features to support XP applications under Windows 7.Not all Intel chips even run Windows!

    The real problem here is quite simply Microsoft. Yet again they can't do a half decent job of creating a new operating system without screwing up, take Vista as a prime example.

  22. Jonathan Hogg
    Dead Vulture

    Why is this Intel's fault or problem?

    When was it Intel's job to support Microsoft software? I thought it was meant to be the other way around? Virtualisation used to work fine before the VT extensions came along [1], so it seems like a problem with VirtualPC/Windows 7 to me...

    [1] VMWare Workstation seems to work fine for 32-bit guest operating systems on almost any x86 processor. If XP mode is for legacy apps that won't run on Windows 7, I see it as highly unlikely that 64bit XP is required.

  23. SuperTim
    Stop

    Stop being a mong.....

    Intel release chips with specific abilities.

    PC manufacturers build machines with those items

    Microsoft regularly make new OS's that completely negate people's previously working software.

    So MS can tell Intel that they are wrong to have released chips that dont support this specific windows 7 quality? It don't work that way round mate. write an OS for a system, dont fiddle with the system to make the crappily written and completely unncessarily "updated" system work like it was advertised to.

    Come on Reg, i thought you knew better than to take sides here. If intel dont say it can do something, they are not breaking the law, whereas if MS say their software works on summat it dont, they are! Its up to MS to say what hardware their crappy OS works on, not for Intel to say what OS's their hardware runs.....

    Also, i suspect people will just dual boot their machines with XP so as to avoid the whole "virtualisation" nonsense....

  24. Matthew Green
    Stop

    Actually

    The unix terminal command should be if [ `grep -c vmx /proc/cpuinfo` -ge 1 ]; then echo Supports Intel VT; else echo No Support for Intel VT; fi

    Luckily mine does.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh noes!

    Dare I stick my neck out and suggest it may be time to upgrade software? That having been said, I do have a hard drive with an XP build on it that I can use to play some games if I find Vista doesn’t let me play said games… but at the same time, I at least recognize that people should maybe move onto newer versions? That 1955 Chevy might still work, but it emits enough fumes to kill a family of small endangered furry animals and is totally lacking in any kind of protection systems making it not only a hazard for its users but anyone else near it!

    This is the kind of thread that I love reading right after those ones that say M$ should drop legacy support and force their users to upgrade their software, just like the other big players do. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t for Redmond, who, if they did, would go deaf from the howls of indignation at using their monopoly to force users to modernize!

  26. Thomas Jolliffe
    Thumb Down

    @Trevor

    My Q6600 was released 18 months before the Q8200, and supports Intel VT. The Q8200 doesn't because it was marketed as a low-end quad chip, and as such Intel saw fit to remove the VT capabilities.

    Get your facts straight next time.

    In general terms, I don't see why XP mode requires it. As others have pointed out, plenty of VM solutions (including Virtual PC, for that matter) run just fine without Intel VT/AMD-V, so why is Microsoft requiring it?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Trevor

    It's not that simple - my Core 2 Duo supports VT, and I'm willing to bet it's an earlier chip than any Core 2 Quad, since it's almost 1 1/2 years old now.

  28. Roger Stenning
    Thumb Down

    Teoh Han Hui has missed the point as well.

    Teoh Han Hui says:

    "You are missing the point here. XP Mode is not for regular users upgrading from Windows XP. It is for businesses that still have a need to run (perhaps in-house) legacy applications."

    Maybe so, but there are personal users as well - such as myself - who run XP and legacy apps (old software, to be blunt), who either cannot afford to buy new versions of that s/w, or don't have a choice and must shell out, or cannot find newer versions of that specific software (and there are a fair few cases of that going around, as I'm sure you must be aware); as a result, when they do shell out their hard earned cash for a new operating system (say they're getting a replacement PC and are transferring their old software to the new machine), if XP Mode isn't supported, they may well be ****ed.

    Out, head, sand, old boy. EVERYONE with an ageing PC should be if not worried, at least somewhat concerned over this potential screwup.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not that hard to look up a chip on the Intel site

    The real story seems to be that XP mode requires VT/AMD-V to run even if your OS is the same architecture as the program - e.g. 32bit Windows 7 and a 32bit virtual XP should not need VT to run. I don't think any of the major virtual environments can software emulate 64bit operations on 32bit - if they can the performance must be horrendous - that's when VT is needed and used.

    Hopefully something good can come out of this as it should persuade manufactures to take VT more seriously and update their BIOSes to make it work.

  30. Ross Fleming Silver badge
    Stop

    And the Intel response

    http://blogs.intel.com/technology/2009/05/reality_check_-_windows_xp_mod.php

    Posted in response to a different Reg article (among others) that already points this out.

    Methinks Chris got out of bed on the wrong side judging by his other rant on hard disk platters! :-)

    XP Mode is going to be a rather limited feature that won't appear on the consumer versions of Win 7. And if nothing else, a tenner says that MS revise the Virtual PC app so that it doesn't rely on these feature sets (any word on whether AMD supports AMD-V on all chips?) and defaults to software mode, using Intel VT/AMD-V as an accelerator - if there is enough demand for it, and I doubt there will be! It's x86 EMULATION after all, and could presumably be compiled for just about any target architecture.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also @Trevor

    None of the low end Penryn chips support VT and not all of the Pentium Ds did either (any chip ID xx5 did not have VT). It's always been a simple case of identifying first whether or not you need it and secondly does the chip you're looking at have it. Caveat Emptor, it always has been and always will be.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @Guy

    > and they wonder why people use Windws...

    Of course, there's a nice GUI version of the above. The original poster just wanted to show off his command-line muscles :P

  33. Damon Lynch
    Linux

    Bios support is another big gotcha

    Like some other readers, I have a CPU which supports virtualization and is 64 bit. However the Sony SZ laptop it is found in supports neither. The BIOS doesn't support Intel's virtualization instructions, and for some reason, a 64 bit OS cannot be loaded. Furthermore, only up to 3GB of RAM is recognized. All this on a mid 2007 premium laptop worth well over US$2,000 at the time. It makes me decidedly wary of ever buying a Sony laptop again.

  34. Trevor
    Stop

    @Richard and Thomas

    Well I did say "the only way this is news is if a processor previous to the Q8200 has VT support,"

    It's not a case of getting my facts straight, I also said I couldn't be arsed to look it up, and the author of the article didn't mention that previous chips in the series had it, and only provided later chip models.

    Now someone has told me I am better off for it, so my next question is....Why are microsoft, after (probably) researching the above, not releasing the VM so that it supports chips without VT?

  35. IanPotter
    Happy

    @Guy

    > and they wonder why people use Windws...

    Ooh, ooh please sir! Because it came pre-installed sir!

    @Mathew Green

    Actually [ `grep -c vmx /proc/cpuinfo` -ge 1 ] && echo Supports Intel VT || echo No Support for Intel VT will do

  36. Rich Gibbons
    Gates Halo

    Here's a complete list for you

    I think a lot of people are using this as a stick to bash MS but with no real reason...it's very rare that everything supports/works with everything so this is nothing awful.

    Whether it's MS's or Intel's fault doesn't really matter, it is what it is and the vast majority of people will have HAV capable CPU's...certainly the most of the people likely to run XP Mode.

    However it is a bit of a confusing situation so I'ev put together a list of all the Intel chips that do and don't support VT:

    http://richfrombechtle.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/windows-7-xp-mode-pre-requisite/

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another think

    MS need to realise that for most people this isn't going to be the 2nd release of windows since XP, it's the first. Vista was an unfortunate hopefully to be forgotten disaster, and many users have soldiered on with XP. Making running w7 difficult on most computers is going to - once again - make large scale system admins shy away from rolling out this version. Are they going to have to wait for windows 8??

  38. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Why do we need XP Mode ?

    What exactly does Windows 7 break so it requires the use of XP Mode ? And why did they break it ?

    Despite all else about Windows it has mainly managed to maintain backwards compatibility with Apps for Windows 95 running unchanged on later versions. They even manage forward compatibility, eg dotNet on Win98. So just how necessary is XP Mode ?

    It's either a lot of fuss about nothing or there mey be serious problems to come for those who adopt Windows 7.

    Paris : Compatible in any configuration.

  39. Psymon

    What really irks me..

    Is none of this would be an issue at all if these ham-fisted programmers had followed the standard MS APIs and protocols in the first place.

    This virtual environment isn't needed for XP apps that were correctly coded. Most of these protocols are over a decade old now, so there really is no excuse whatsoever.

    The windows registry has been around since 3.11, and yet those muppets at Mozilla STILL can't use it correctly.

    File and folder permissions, and user profiles have been knocking about since NT. Why in gods name can't they grasp these simple concepts, and maybe even use them correctly?

    Maybe this change will finally shake some OS awareness into them, and hopefully sort the wheat from the chaff.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    The core isn't XP Mode, it's Virtualization

    "What exactly does Windows 7 break so it requires the use of XP Mode ? And why did they break it ?"

    Windows 7 Virtualization requires the Intel VT mode, not the XP Mode. You can't install/run Windows 7 VPC without it. Has nothing to do with the guest OS being used.

    <http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/support/requirements.aspx>

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A fool and his money...

    If its that important, you should do the research BEFORE you part with your money.

    http://communities.intel.com/thread/2181;jsessionid=04DBF3A8B6BA9401EB2BEB4E4D43CE96

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Core_2_microprocessors

    Found in 2-3 searches on google and 2-3 minutes of reading.

  42. noodle heimer

    virt not part of the x86 instruction set

    And hence, Microsoft has decided to release a major software package which is incompatible with the x86 instruction set.

    Hardly Intel's fault. They defined the x86 instruction set and documented it fully a dog's years ago.

  43. Robert Amleth
    Flame

    Intel: WTF?

    It's 2009 and Intel is shipping QUAD-CORE PROCESSORS without VT? Are you kidding me? Here's a tip for HR, find out what idiot made that decision and can their ass. Moron.

  44. eugene
    Stop

    whine whine whine

    Wow, what a bunch of whiners. How many of you who are complaining about XP Mode and VT ... actually have a use for XP Mode? 3? 5? 10? Face it, the rest of you are just whining just because you need a reason to bash Microsoft. I bet a number of you don't even know what you'd seriously do with it.

  45. raving angry loony

    blame game

    Ah yes. Blame Intel for a design fault created by Microsoft? How positively 90's of you.

    Virtualization done by competent companies works whether or not the chips have the specified tech. If it has it, it uses it, if it doesn't, it works around it. Yet for some reason Microsoft was so incompetent they couldn't do what dozens of other companies are doing every day?

    And this is somehow the fault of AMD or Intel, rather than the fault of the people writing the software?

    WTF drugs is Microsoft, and their shills, snorting these days?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Storm in a teacup

    It is not neccesary to use a VT processor (and BIOS) with Virtual XP to run a 'legacy' Windows XP apps in Windows 7. Just run the application in Windows 7 as you would any other application. (Just as you can run old Windows 95 apps in XP and Vista today, and Win 7 when it arrives).

    Windows 7 will also have a virtual PC mode, available to hardware that can support it. Gosh. Hold the front page! Why is that even noteworthy? Windows 7 is simply exploiting the advances in hardware that have occured since the last version of the OS was released. I, for one, have no problem with that.

    Linux trolls out-geeking each other with oh-so-easy-to-remember command line syntax is always worth a minor chuckle, but aside from that there is no story here.

  47. Marco van Beek
    Joke

    Does Redmond listen ... ?

    Ha ha haaa haa haaa haa haaaa haa haaaa haaaa haa Ha ha haaa haa haaa haa haaaa haa haaaa haaaa haa ha ha haaa haa haaa haa haaaa haa haaaa haaaa haa Ha ha haaa haa haaa haa haaaa haa haaaa haaaa haa ha ha haaa haa haaa haa haaaa haa haaaa haaaa haa.

    Ouch. My sides just split.

  48. Paul Greavy

    Intel are more to blame here than MS

    I think the article and a lot of the comments miss the point. Intel have basically disabled VT on a lot of chips that otherwise are capable of it. The policy is not at all transparent and seems to exist for no other reason than to make punters who need the feature part with more money.

    I've been a happy AMD customer for years and they are much more straightforward about this. The rule there is that VT is enabled on pretty much all chips, except maybe single core semprons.

    I've been stung by this Intel policy once and it will be a long time before I buy another Intel processor.

  49. FoolD
    Gates Horns

    Intel's problem ?

    As microsoft's own Virtual PC 2007 runs fine on windows 7 (even additions works well) it is surprising that XP mode *requires* VT support on the CPU. One would assume it must be a new feature such as USB support (to allow direct printing presumably) not in VPC 2007 that needs it.

    Whatever the reason it would seem more sensible to allow a cut-down XP Mode to work on hardware with no VT support (just as VPC 2007 does) but without those features that require it, which makes this a microsoft problem / solution. Stopping the install completely seems rather lazy on microsoft's part.

    On the other hand, given the way the WDM memory footprint 'enhancment' over Vista only works if you have DX10 hardware & WDDM 1.1 drivers, it seems microsoft aren't interested in fixing core problems (ie. removing the read-back dependency in WDM) - they would rather throw new hardware at problems to solve them. So not much new there, really.

    Blaming Intel is to follow microsoft's lead in ignoring the core issues; Microsoft's coding requires a non-standard feature of modern CPU's, compounded by Intel's patchy support for said feature. Which could/should be fixed ?

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