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Does Windows 7's XP mode require hardware virtualization?

This old post indicates hardware virtualization is required, some articles say it no longer is. Do I need a CPU with hardware virtualization? Does the CPU need to be 64 bit to run Windows 7 XP mode?

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

You do not need hardware virtualization. Originally XP Mode required it, but now with Windows 7 service pack 1 it is not required. If you are not running SP1 (shame on you) then you can download a XP Mode update (step 4 on the XP Mode download page) which will allow it to run without hardware virtualization.

XP Mode runs using Virtual PC and the officially published Virtual PC requirements say:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit / 64-bit processor required
  • Memory (RAM)
    • 2GB memory or higher recommended
  • Recommended 15 GB hard disk space per virtual Windows environment
  • Note: Windows XP Mode is only available in Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, and Windows 7 Ultimate.

And on the FAQ page it says:

  • Is hardware virtualization a must-have to run Windows XP Mode?
    • No. Windows XP Mode can be run on a CPU without hardware virtualization.
  • Is hardware virtualization better?
    • For Windows XP Mode the performance will be more than acceptable with or without hardware virtualization. For developers using Virtual PC with Windows Vista or Windows 7 virtual machines we recommend HAV as the non-HAV is only tuned for XP Mode.

Regarding 32-bit and 64-bit support, both are able to be the host, but the virtual OS can only be 32-bit under Virtual PC/XP Mode. Also from the FAQ:

  • Does Windows Virtual PC support 64-bit Windows XP as a guest operating system?
    • No. Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode was designed to help small business with application compatibility from Windows XP to Windows 7. The majority of business applications currently run on 32-bit versions of Windows XP.
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Windows 7 Virtual PC can run on a 32 bit cpu, makes sense that this post says it cannot run 64 bit images. serverfault.com/questions/319919/… –  steampowered Oct 9 '11 at 15:16
    
@JM. Good point. I clarified that issue in my answer. –  Ryan Clarke Oct 9 '11 at 18:36
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FAQ on MS Page:

Is hardware virtualization a must-have to run Windows XP Mode?

No. Windows XP Mode can be run on a CPU without hardware virtualization.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/support/faq.aspx

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As per the download site for Windows XP Mode, it has a separate patch for machines that do not support hardware virtualization. There is no mention of requirement for x64 hardware too.

The only requirement is that you have a licensed copy of Microsoft Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate/Enterprise.

FAQ for Windows XP Mode: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/support/faq.aspx

Is hardware virtualization a must-have to run Windows XP Mode?

No. Windows XP Mode can be run on a CPU without hardware virtualization.

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

1 GHz 32-bit / 64-bit processor required

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