Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Adventures with Windows 7: Day 2

Day 2: Hopes Rise and Fall

As I was browsing the new features of Win7 Ultimate, I discovered something called Windows XP Mode. This is an XP virtual environment run directly within Win7 specifically for legacy (XP) applications. XP mode runs over another feature called Windows Virtual PC, that allows the creation of a virtual operating system environment for any operating system for which the user has a valid license. Both are downloadable for free for users of Win7 Pro, Win7 Ultimate, and some versions of Vista.

My first thought was that this might allow us to run those old Disney Interactive programs without dual-booting. Unfortunately, it turns out that these programs require the CPU to have something called Intel Virtualization Technology. (There is an AMD equivalent.) Although my laptop has it, our family desktop does not.

Microsoft has a downloadable program that checks to see if your CPU has the technology and whether the technology is enabled in the BIOS. If your CPU has it, then Virtual PC could solve any issues of backward compatibility with old software, even beyond the capability I wrote about yesterday. According to Microsoft, the main limitation appears to be accessing peripherals from within Virtual PC.

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