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MS, Intel "Goofed Up" Win 7 XP Virtualization 315

Posted by kdawson
from the one-man's-goof dept.
clang_jangle writes "Ars Technica has a short article up describing how Microsoft and Intel have 'goofed up' Windows 7's XP Mode by ensuring many PCs will not be able to use it. (And it won't be easy to figure out in advance if your PC is one of them.) Meanwhile, over at Infoworld, Redmond is criticized for having the 'right idea, wrong technology' with their latest compatibility scheme, and PC World says 'great idea, on paper.' With Windows 7 due to be released in 2010, and Redmond apparently eager to move on from XP, perhaps this is not really a 'goof' at all?"
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MS, Intel "Goofed Up" Win 7 XP Virtualization

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  • 2010? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by swaq (989895)
    I thought it was leaked that it would be released this year?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Based on the 3 year rule, most people say 2010.

      All the postings from Microsoft developers, combined with their probably-intentional leaks are hinting strongly at a late-fall release.

    • Re:2010? (Score:4, Informative)

      by JoelisHere (992325) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:11PM (#27879321)
      from the currently available Windows 7 release candidate info page (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/installation-instructions.aspx)

      IMPORTANT: The RC will expire on June 1, 2010. Starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you'll need to rebuild your test machine using a valid version of Windows before the software expires. You'll need to rebuild your test PC to replace the OS and reinstall all your programs and data.

  • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:50AM (#27878113)

    AMD has placed this support in almost all of their recent chips, but Intel has been more stingy with it.

    It's necessary to use 64-bit guests in Virtualbox, but VMWare can make due without it.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:57AM (#27878209) Homepage
      It surprised the heck out of me when I found I could run 64-bit guests on a (32-bit host OS, 64-bit hardware) with hardware virtualization, at least on my AMD.
    • by pegr (46683) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:58AM (#27878233) Homepage Journal

      Apple did this, not once but twice. Why is Redmond so afraid of trading out the basic underpinnings? I guess they married the concept of permenant backwards compatibility when they used that very stick to beat OS/2 into the ground.

      Is Rosetta Stone a good technology? No, but it got users over the hump. (It was, however, a great hack...)
      How about Fat Binaries? Good lord, Win binaries are fat enough already!

      There's no good solution, so Redmond has to go with "good enough" to get users over to "the other side". Hey Bill! Maybe they don't want to go...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928)

        This is actually very similar to what Apple did...They kept OS 9 support on all systems that had the old power PC processors. Once you bought intel, however, no more OS 9, no matter what version of OS X you were using.

        Like anything else, users will have to decide for themselves if there is anything that is good enough to make them upgrade.

      • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:17PM (#27878511)

        Apple did this, not once but twice. Why is Redmond so afraid of trading out the basic underpinnings?

        And what's Apple's market share? What's Microsoft's?

        You say it yourself: "they used that very stick to beat OS/2 into the ground."

        I would say that the single biggest reason that Windows is as prevalent as it is today is that to a very large extent, MS has maintained backwards compatibility at almost any cost. I can only think of a couple exceptions: transitions to the NT line stopped some old DOS programs that access sound cards and stuff directly from working, XP SP2 made a few similar strides (I don't know details), Vista makes a couple more, and x64-based Windows drops support for 16-bit programs (but this is largely the fault of AMD/Intel rather than MS, who would have had to work around processor limitations since 16-bit instructions aren't available in 64-bit mode).

        But even with Vista 32-bit, my experience is that each of the three or four DOS programs from the mid-80s still ran. There are few systems that can claim this lineage. So it's no wonder to me that MS doesn't want to give it up.

        And it's only recently that the pile of compatibility hacks and inability to make fundamental design decisions has caught up to MS and been harming them from the market's point of view.

        • by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunityNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:27PM (#27878643) Homepage

          I'd be happy if Vista included virtualization technology for DOS6.2 on a 386. That would allow much smoother operation of very old programs that some of us still use, or want to use at least.

        • by Thuktun (221615) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:20PM (#27879511) Homepage Journal

          I would say that the single biggest reason that Windows is as prevalent as it is today is that to a very large extent, MS has maintained backwards compatibility at almost any cost.

          Curious. At home, I've got a large collection of children's educational and gaming software written for DOS through Windows 98 that utterly fail to run properly in Windows XP or Vista. I haven't experienced this compatibility of which you speak.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Belial6 (794905)
            Exactly. Windows has always had backward compatibility problems, and virtualization is obviously the future. By emulating the old environments, they can clean out the old cruft while keeping a better level of compatibility than they could ever hope for with their various 'compatibility modes'.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by PitaBred (632671)
            Try Dosbox. But if you did that, you could get off Windows entirely ;)
          • by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday May 08, 2009 @03:53PM (#27881897)

            I haven't experienced this compatibility of which you speak.

            That's not what you said earlier:

            software[...]that utterly fail to run properly

        • by earlymon (1116185) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:49PM (#27880013) Homepage Journal

          I would say that the single biggest reason that Windows is as prevalent as it is today is that to a very large extent, MS has maintained backwards compatibility at almost any cost.

          I have one pgm from OS X 10.0 that no longer worked at some point (10.2? Not sure.) It was freeware. I had to update OroborOSX a few times with my OS X update. I have a platform running Tiger (10.4 - current rev now is 10.5, Leopard) - and it is running my Microsoft Office X that I bought when that was a 10.1 machine. At some point, IE wouldn't run and MS said they would no longer support it under OS X (I'm just rounding out the list - I could care less if that was Apple's or MS's doing.)

          None of my user files are affected by upgrades.

          Like you, I can point to a few - very few - examples of OS X not bending over for backwards compatibility.

          I can't say what backwards compatibility OS X has with OS 9 and prior (supported via Classic mode for a while on OS X) - other than to say - pretty much none.

          By the time OS X came out, Apple had lost all sorts of market share - are you suggesting that that was because they weren't providing backwards compatibilities?

          I just cannot believe that a large extent of the reason for MS's market share is their over-the-years backwards compatibility.

          You are correct in that they did have that, and I've seen Win users over the years tout it as important, and then brag to me that OS X didn't have that (info source: see flying monkeys). Then those same users would get slammed when technology moved on and not complain, because whatever it was had a good run before being obsolesced.

          My take on it is much simpler: MS saved money over the years by not upgrading fundamental parts of their OS until/unless absolutely forced to do so (see: Win32) or sometimes never. Now, their own technical inertia may kill them.

          OS X is gaining market share. I'd like to believe that Linux is as well, but I don't know (maybe it's dropping). But quite simply, that has nothing to do with backwards compatibility.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by srmalloy (263556)

        Eternal backward compatibility is an inevitable result of Microsoft's "Every current Windows user needs to buy a new OS from us every 3 years" cash-flow model. Look at how lackluster the adoption of Vista has been, when it's just the lack of any clear advantage from upgrading. Now consider what purchasing decisions will be made when the cost analysis is choosing between "continue using our existing OS and applications" and "Upgrade to the new version of Windows and replace every single application we're usi

      • >Hey Bill! Maybe they don't want to go...

        Bill has virtually nothing to do with this. Bill basically has cashed out his chips and moved on...

        If anything say, "hey steve..."

      • Apple did this, not once but twice. Why is Redmond so afraid of trading out the basic underpinnings? I guess they married the concept of permenant backwards compatibility when they used that very stick to beat OS/2 into the ground.

        The fortune program describe this very well...

        "I've finally learned what `upward compatible' means.

        It means we get to keep all our old mistakes."

        -- Dennie van Tassel

    • It's necessary to use 64-bit guests in Virtualbox, but VMWare can make due without it.

      I'm looking to replace my outdated machine (800MHz, with less than 1G of RAM) with a new one. I want to do virtualization on it, with Linux as the host. What processor/motherboard would give a decent bang for the buck? How much memory should I get (I'm thinking 8G RAM)? Any brands to avoid?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by flappinbooger (574405)
        Ummm, compared to where you're at, just about any dual core proc. Are you really concerned about price? Just get a C2D, ASUS, 4GB ram. That's bang for the buck. Going with 8GB of ram you must really be planning to go all out with the vm's. Most people will tell you that you only really need enough ram so you don't swap with the vm's, otherwise it's overkill.

        But, if you're going 64bit linux and plan to keep this one as long as you've kept your last one, maybe 8GB is the way to go.... I am running 64b
        • I tend to agree. If you want to use a Linux DOM:0, and have it be a real, usable OS, not just a VM manager; then have a VM or two, you should be fine with about any current dual core CPU and 4GB or so of RAM. That'll easily run your host OS with whatever you want running and say a Windows XP VM for running Office and/or modest games. If you really want to build a machine that will run into the future, or you want to have multiple VMs simultaneously running on a DOM:0 that exists only to manage them, I'd

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Most people will tell you that you only really need enough ram so you don't swap with the vm's, otherwise it's overkill.

          And they would be wrong. Disk caching in memory has a significant impact on performance. If you are utilizing a significant percentage of your memory then there will be little caching.

          I have experienced this myself on a system with 2GB of ram. While running a single VM utilizing 1.1 GB of memory the system was responsive and snappy. Running two VMs using 1.8 GB of memory the system woul

      • muppet sig ftw!
      • Any AM3+ motherboard paired with an X3 or X4 CPU.
        I wouldn't recommend unlocking the extra core on the X3s, it IS disabled for a reason!

        You'll need a 64-bit OS to see the extra RAM in your virtual hosts. (I think. As stated, you can run a 64-bit guest on a 32-bit host if you have hardware virtualization acceleration, but I assume you still need a 64-bit OS to have the guests see all the RAM.)

        You probably won't need more than 4GB, realistically, but there's no harm in going for 8 GB with today's prices.

        What

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I want to do virtualization on it, with Linux as the host.

        As usual, see Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]

        The same brands suck/don't suck as always. Buy an ASUS, ABIT, Gigabyte... something decent, and it will probably not be lame. As always, the vendor's chipset is probably the slowest and probably will work most reliably. If you're going to run a lot of concurrent virtual machines think about a dual-dual AMD setup for the massive memory bandwidth, you could probably buy someone else's used machine and still have it be a massive upgrade from what you have now. All computers run on use

    • by arth1 (260657) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:19PM (#27878525) Homepage Journal

      AMD has placed this support in almost all of their recent chips, but Intel has been more stingy with it.

      Also, with Intel, it's not enough that the CPU and chipset supports VT-x, it also has to be enabled in the BIOS. Some manufacturers disable it, and some (most notably Sony) often won't even show the option in the BIOS set-up, making it permanently turned off. All to save a few bucks in support costs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      I see this as something like poetic justice. I have never forgiven Intel for their bright idea of making processors that identified themselves to the world at large. Anonymity has it's place in this world, and that chip was a monumental boner. More, I see most of Intel's business decisions as based on greed. AMD is greedy, to be sure, but their decisions seem designed to move computer science forward, while capitalizing on that move. Intel? Money first and foremost, with computer science a side benefi

  • Difficult? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:54AM (#27878183)

    I suppose it depends on your definition of "difficult" -- it's not particularly hard to find out if your processor supports virtualization extensions.

    The Ars Technica is terrible -- it implies that it's a complete mystery why a virtualization system would require processor virtualization extensions to function.

    I'm also not entirely sure it's reasonable to call a logical design decision you disagree with a "goof". I would hazard a guess that requiring virtualization extensions is intentional, not a mistake.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)
      Well, why does it require the hardware extensions? Prior versions of Virtual PC, and VMware, certainly don't require it. I can only assume it's safer to the host, and faster, but it's certainly not mandatory in the operational sense.
      • by alen (225700)

        few years ago when we first bought into VMWare and before the hardware virtualization on CPU's arrived I asked this to the VMWare sales guys because the new CPU's were shipping soon. they said it allows the virtualization software access to ring 0 of the CPU instead of going through the normal channels. kind of like MS and it's secreat API's for it's own products

      • Re:Difficult? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by not already in use (972294) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:30PM (#27878695)
        I love now how slashdotters are faulting Microsoft for going the safe, secure, performance-minded route.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nlawalker (804108)

      Previous virtualization systems did not require processor virtualization extensions to function.

      They're calling it a "goof" because it would have made more sense *not* to require the extensions and use them only on an as-present basis to enhance performance. This is especially appropriate given that that many of Intel's offerings are lacking VT, and Virtual PC 2007 (the foundation for XPM) does not require extensions, but can use them if they are present.

      I imagine that the reason Microsoft requires them is

      • From TFA:

        Intel uses VT for product segmentation, regarding it as a high-end feature and charging more for it.

        Thus, only high-end chips will be able to emulate XP and I don't see any reason why Intel would change this any time soon (in fact, it could even be that they're the reason Microsoft did this). This looks precisely like a "goof" to me because I bet the corporate world with all their specialized apps and low-end PCs will not be to happy that they can only run XP emulation on some PCs and not other

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          only high-end chips will be able to emulate XP

          Patently false. For example, pretty much every C2D (well, not really... but more than not) and many other chips [wikipedia.org] have it. Many of them could justifiably be called "budget". Notably, pretty much every low-power C2D has got it, so the majority of those Centrino notebooks out there in the hands of execs will be fine :)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            I went to Intel's Core 2 Duo list [intel.com] of chips and counted. 18/60 chips don't have the VT extension. That's 30%. I have no idea on the relative popularity of these chips but if 30% of the chips out there can't run the XP emulation mode, I'd say that's pretty significant, wouldn't you? It's not like these chips are ancient or anything either, I'm guessing their Core 2 Duo is their most popular chip for desktops right now and maybe even laptops.
      • It has to do with the 64bit OS and the context switching between the code running, the virtual OS and the VM. When they moved to the 64 bit instruction set, as I understand it (and please correct me if I'm wrong) the virtualization became clunkier and it became more difficult (and hence slower) to protect your VM from applications running in the same mapped memory space.
      • by Rennt (582550)

        Previous virtualization systems did not require processor virtualization extensions to function.

        Actually, yes they kind of did. Before VT extensions the guest OS needed to be aware of the fact that it was not running on bare metal. Various hacks by VMWare and Xen (NT kernel hacks, funny drivers, etc) made it possible to run XP as a guest but it wasn't pretty. (or even legally available in Xen's case).

        VT made it possible to run unmodified operating systems as a guest - and generally on any arbitrary host OS you feel like - greatly increasing the utility and stability of VMs.

        I never expected for a secon

    • it's not particularly hard to find out if your processor supports virtualization extensions.

      It's not all that insanely simple, either. I don't know which of my computers support virtualization extensions, though I'm sure some do and some don't. I could probably figure it out with some research, but it's not obvious. Looking at the computer in front of me, I see a sticker that says it has an "Intel Pentium D" and another sticker telling me the computer is designed for Windows XP. I can right click on "My Computer" and it will tell me the processor speed and how much RAM I have. None of that te

    • Blaming Intel, is code word for we don't wanna do it. But our customers want it.

    • Agreed. By requiring the VT extensions they adopt the inherent security and performance benefits. Ironically, these are the two things slashdotters love to take shots at MS for, and in typical slashdot fashion they are going to fault them wherever possible, even when their decisions *are* taking security and performance into account.
      • As much as I would love to bash on the hypocrisy of of Slashdotters. However virtualization is rather common now and although having VT extensions would make things easier. There are defiantly ways around it. And with a little focus on Security and performance it should be really close to as it was with the VT extension. It is really just Microsoft not wanting Virtualization.

        • It is really just Microsoft not wanting Virtualization.

          Now what sense does that make? Of course they do, and more so for their corporate clients than anyone. And, if corporations are upgrading from XP to Windows 7, chances are they're upgrading hardware too which makes this largely a non-issue. It doesn't make sense to code a software solution (kludge) for something that most current and all future hardware will support, in a yet-to-be-released operating system.

  • by fermion (181285) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:57AM (#27878207) Homepage Journal
    Why does MS need a separate XP mode? Why are the two so different that one needs a separate product, virtual PC to run the code? Why do they want XP to run on a virtual machine at all? It this decision based on the way Windows work, or does MS just not want such an ability integrated into the OS.

    The reason I am confused is because this would have been great for the Vista transition, and seems to be old technology. Over ten years ago Apple included this capability in OS X, allowing OS 9 application to run in the classic environment. Apple also included bundles to allow the transition from 68K to PPC, and later PPC to Intel. Why did MS not do the same, and why are the including a hack solution at the last minute.

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:00PM (#27878267)

      The solution Microsoft is adding to Windows 7 is the same solution Apple used for the OS 9 - X transition. Classic was a second operating system that ran essentially as a virtual machine.

    • by AxemRed (755470)
      Many businesses haven't made the transition to Vista. I think that it's likely that many have chosen not to adopt Vista because of compatibility issues with software that they use. With an XP virtual machine, I think that MS may be trying to lure them to Windows 7 by offering them a way to reliably run those legacy applications.
    • Why does MS need a separate XP mode? Why are the two so different that one needs a separate product, virtual PC to run the code? Why do they want XP to run on a virtual machine at all? It this decision based on the way Windows work, or does MS just not want such an ability integrated into the OS.

      You don't need a separate product to run XP. It's an added feature being rolled into some versions of Windows 7. It uses Virtual PC because that's what Microsoft has for virtual machine software.

      I haven't tried Windows 7 yet, nor this XP-mode, so I've got no authority here... But I would assume efforts would be made to make the virtualization as transparent and seamless as possible.

      The reason I am confused is because this would have been great for the Vista transition, and seems to be old technology. Over ten years ago Apple included this capability in OS X, allowing OS 9 application to run in the classic environment. Apple also included bundles to allow the transition from 68K to PPC, and later PPC to Intel. Why did MS not do the same, and why are the including a hack solution at the last minute.

      This is exactly what Microsoft is doing. They are allowing you to run your old XP-only code within Windows 7. Much like Ap

  • At the request of several interested windows-using friends, I am testing the latest win7 evaluation copy in Parallels on a Mac. So far I have installed Opera, cygwin, Tortoise svn, OpenOffice.org 3.1, and even got XP's 3D Pinball to work in it. Now I'm wondering if many users will even need XP emulation...
    Of course, who knows what MS might change by the official release date.
    • Re:A minor update (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WaXHeLL (452463) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:07PM (#27878373)

      That suite of applications that you're testing doesn't accurately represent the target population for XP emulation.

      XP Emulation is primarily geared towards businesses with legacy/custom business applications which have not been re-written for Windows Vista/7. Not to mention, some of those vendors for those business applications will charge large hefty upgrade fees to get their software compatible with the newest versions of Windows.

      • Re:A minor update (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:33PM (#27878755)

        That suite of applications that you're testing doesn't accurately represent the target population for XP emulation.

        XP Emulation is primarily geared towards businesses with legacy/custom business applications which have not been re-written for Windows Vista/7.

        We run an ancient version of Televantage here.

        The Televantage server itself is still running NT4. The client software refuses to run on anything newer than Windows XP SP1.

        The solution has been to go ahead and update our machines to SP2/SP3/Vista/whatever and run Televantage inside a small virtual machine running Windows 2000 SP4 - it works great.

        This is the kind of problem the XP-mode is intended to address.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      What kind of accounting software did you test. Our accounting software runs on FoxPro9, and prior to last year it was running in compatibility mode of FoxPro4 or 5 (I forget). Lots of small buisnesses run wonky custom accounting software that's been hacked to run sequentially newer operating systems since DOS. I think we started running our accounting software in win3.1 of FoxPro 3 or 4 back in 1998.

    • by SScorpio (595836)

      Most people likely won't need to bother with XP mode. XP mode is being included to allow badly coded business applications that are hacked together that work on XP run on Windows 7. Surprisingly every report I've read has Windows 7 having better compatibility than Vista, so throwing in XP mode will have it run everything that works under XP. I do wonder if XP mode will allow the sharing of USB devices like you can in VMWare. I still have some old legacy hardware that does not have 64bit drivers and it w

  • Who Cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siuengr (625257) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:58AM (#27878241)
    I don't understand why people are making such a big deal about XP Mode. It is meant for enterprise systems that have millions invested in software that is difficult to convert. 99.9% of people are not going to be using XP mode.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PPH (736903)
      Because enterprises that have millions invested in software have the clout to beat vendors over the head to make them support the latest technology du jour. Its all us little people that, individually will get told to fuck off when we call to complain that our apps don't run on Vista or W7 native mode.
    • by Aggrajag (716041)
      The big deal is that with this move Microsoft may have ensured that those enterprises will upgrade to Windows 7.
  • How to figure it out (Score:5, Informative)

    by bflong (107195) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:01PM (#27878289)

    When running Linux, open up a terminal and run this:
    echo -n "Does my cpu support virtualizaiton? "; if `cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep -q svm || cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep -q vmx`; then echo Yes; else echo No; fi

    Another issue you may have is if your system has the virtualization functions disabled in BIOS. Some laptops do this, and have no way to turn them on. My Dell D820 works fine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mad Merlin (837387)

      echo -n "Does my cpu support virtualizaiton? "; if `cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep -q svm || cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep -q vmx`; then echo Yes; else echo No; fi

      This is even easier:

      echo -n "Does my cpu support virtualizaiton? "; if `cat /proc/cpuinfo | egrep -q '(svm|vmx)'`; then echo Yes; else echo No; fi

    • by entrigant (233266) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:34PM (#27878775)

      cat foo | grep ...

      seriously?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DaleGlass (1068434)

        Actually I think that's a common artifact of a process of gradual refinement.

        You start with:

        cat /proc/cpuinfo

        To get an idea what the contents of the file are like.

        Then you figure out something to search for, or to exclude. A quick way of doing that is to recall the previous history line (up arrow), and tack on grep on it:

        cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep '^processor'

        Then you refine it further, with another history recall and tack another command at the end:

        cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep '^processor' | wc -l

        Then some

    • by Prototerm (762512)

      Who says Linux is difficult to use?

      • Well, if you prefer a less arcane solution, you can simply open /proc/cpuinfo in your favourite text editor, and see if "svm" or "vmx" appears in the flags line. But since on a modern box you get something like:

        flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm lahf_lm ida tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority

        eyebal

      • by Tetsujin (103070)

        Who says Linux is difficult to use?

        I guess this is sarcasm?

        Well, we are talking about a fairly specialized operation, here - looking for specific CPU feature flags - it's not something that would commonly need to be done. But for people who need that kind of in-depth information about the system they're running on, it's right there waiting to be extracted.

        I'd be curious about what the procedure would be on Windows... I wasn't able to find the information via a quick search of the "System" area of the control panel - but then I'm no Windows

  • by localroger (258128) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:03PM (#27878315) Homepage
    The only reason MS is putting this silly scheme into 7 is the large number of corporate interests who have apps that will not run on Vista or 7 natively, and which they do not want to rewrite. The virtual machine was supposed to get them to stop demanding XP from their vendors since there would be a solution. Only it might not be such a reliable solution, particularly on those millions of boxes which won't be quite new but also won't be quite old enough to discard which are in use today.

    This is a very critical problem for Microsoft. I have heard people who would never have even looked at a non-MS solution two years ago whispering about Macs and Ubuntu. If migrating is going to involve a vast amount of unscheduled pain, reinstallation, down time, and retraining, do you migrate to the next level of the company which is screwing you or look for an alternative?

    Seven has to solve the problem of legacy apps that don't run. If it doesn't, the Mexican standoff will continue with Seven in Vista's place, and one or two Fortune 100 shops throwing their hands in the air and switching FOSS could start a stampede. The unlikeliness of that, while high, decreases just a bit for every day the current situation persists.

    • Indeed, and if Windows 7 replaces Vista in that slot, ie the one that users don't want....what does that do to Microsoft's reputation among the non-tech savy users who only see a HUGE corporation who must have gotten where they are by being the best in their field. One major failure in their two key product lines followed by another. They can bluff their way right now by claiming Windows 7 will fix everything that was wrong with Vista, but the more we hear of Windows 7 it appears not to be that much of an i
    • Seven has to solve the problem of legacy apps that don't run. If it doesn't, the Mexican standoff will continue with Seven in Vista's place, and one or two Fortune 100 shops throwing their hands in the air and switching FOSS could start a stampede. The unlikeliness of that, while high, decreases just a bit for every day the current situation persists.

      There's also another matter to consider. IT trends are cyclic and I think we're at the end of the PC-centric phase, everyone is going to want to go put the power back on the server again. That's not to say that we're all going thin-client, just that we're going to see more citrix-type or web-based apps. This allows management to be relatively platform-agnostic. My 7 year old computer can run a remote desktop session just fine. So long as the web apps are developed intelligently, mac and PC can play in the s

    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      Because switching to Ubuntu or OS X won't have any problems regarding retraining, virtual machines, or in-house software change.. Keep dreaming
  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:09PM (#27878387) Homepage

    What I wonder is why there's still NEW processors coming out from Intel WITHOUT the VT-x extensions? These extensions have been around at least since the original Core Duo days; shouldn't they be standard on all Intel CPUs by now?

    I boggled when I learned there were still new CPUs being sold without the extensions. It's not like it's something that's hard to implement; the work is already done.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:16PM (#27878493) Journal
      Price discrimination/market segmentation.

      Disabling that feature is an easy way to make an otherwise adequate product unsuitable for corporate buyers(IIRC, some of Intel's "Active Management" sauce either depends on, or is bundled with, VT extension support). By disabling the feature on some chips, they can capture more of the surplus value. Pretty much the same reason that all versions of Vista aren't Ultimate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lukas84 (912874)

      Only the low-end CPUs don't have them.

      So if you bought a machine aimed at corporations, it will have the VT extensions. For example, all current ThinkPad R series and Tseries have them, and all Lenovo M series and ThinkStation products also have them.

      All bets are off if you bought one of those shitty 699$ 17" laptops with horrible screen resolution ;)

      XP Mode can't play games, it's a lot of work to maintain (seperate domain account, seperate users, seperate AV, seperative firewall). It's aimed at small busin

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nimey (114278)

        Objection, m'lud! The Q8600 is not a "low-end CPU". It's not as high-end as a Q9600, but it's no Celeron, and it doesn't have VTX instructions.

    • by athakur999 (44340)

      VT-x has been around since some of the later Pentium 4 chips released in November, 2005. The only Core 2 chips missing the feature are the low end ones - the ones branded Celeron and Pentium as well as the lowest end Core 2's. Still, it's pretty annoying, especially consdering all new AMD chips have AMD's version enabled.

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

        On the intel side there are a few motherboard manufacturers who disable it.

        Last I looked nearly all laptop manufacturers disabled it.

        The problem with the intel version vs. the amd version is that the BIOS can disable it at boot and there's nothing the end user can do to reenable it.

    • by sricetx (806767)
      Well, the Atom 270 and 280 processors they are using for most netbooks don't have VT-x. I assume they left the feature off these chips to save on power draw.
  • From the... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zarmanto (884704)
    From the "Department of redundant redundancy department".

    (For those of you who actually read all three linked articles... or is that, all two?)

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:32PM (#27878729)

    Seriously, this Windows 7 stuff is getting silly. That Slashdot isn't a pro MS site is fine. How about more Linux news, less MS news then?

    It gets tiresome to see all these bullshit "OMG Windoze sux!!!1111one" stories any time a new version is coming out. Just leave off it already. If you don't like Windows 7 that is totally fine, but that isn't any reason to try and spread FUD about it. Make no mistake, that's what all this is too. They are trying to find minor things to pick on and make them out to be major problems. They are trying to say "Oh this will be a horrible OS!" They are trying to seed fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

    Also I kinda think it shows the opposite: If all you can find to report bad are extremely minor things, then I guess it really isn't that bad, is it? I mean let's see what criticisms they've tried to blow up lately"

    1) Windows doesn't show extensions by default.
    2) Windows 7 isn't all that much faster than Vista SP1, and the release version of Vista was slower than XP.
    3) An optional Windows 7 addon, that most people will never download, requires a CPU addon that not all CPUs have.

    Oh gee wow, what a problematic list. I mean really, if that's all you can come up with, if that's the worst of the worst, the stuff that's headline worthy, I think really that shows that 7 is a good OS, not a bad one, because it's all a bunch of BS. As a quick example for each point:

    1) So what, every version of Windows since 95 has been like this, and in Linux, anything can be an executable. You can have any extension or no extension and run it.
    2) This is a fake comparison. Vista at release was slower than Vista now, a better comparison is Windows 7 to XP directly, in which case 7 does pretty well. Also, new OSes are usually a bit slower, due to new features, what else is new? DOS is screaming fast, but rather worthless.
    3) Very few people will ever get this, because it just isn't needed. Native compatibility is extremely high in Windows 7. This is for businesses who have some odd old apps. It is just a nice, free, addon is people want it.

    So please, can we stop with the FUD? If there's real news worthy 7 stuff, post it. If not, then just ignore it, because right now it seems like they are grasping at straws to try and find things wrong with 7.

  • If you have a real computer, you should forget 7. And stick with a real man's operating system [facebook.com]. On a real PC, one with sixteen cores and 8GB RAM and enough fans to lift the building. ACCEPT NOTHING LESS.
  • Linux can do virtualization and backwards compatibility at the API level, as in user mode linux, via virtualization with a JIT, and via hardware virtualization. Why can't Windows 7 do any of those with XP?

  • by Tarlus (1000874) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:59PM (#27879147)

    Meanwhile, over at Infoworld, Redmond is criticized...

    Whenever people refer to Microsoft as "Redmond" it sounds so condescending and ignorant. They're called Microsoft. They're located in Redmond, WA. But Microsoft != Redmond.

  • Ok, I'm as tepid towards Microsoft as any geek who's had to deal with them, but this doesn't seem right.

    It's in Microsoft's best interest to include XP compatibility, if they want to entice people to upgrade. The people who need it most are the less-technical who don't necessarily have the expertise to deal with migration issues. For this feature to be useful to them, it has to work reliably and transparently.

    Moreover, Intel would be insane to allow a situation where AMD had a clear advantage to peop

  • by steveha (103154) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:27PM (#27879607) Homepage

    The ArsTechnica article makes an interesting point: could Microsoft have done an XP mode that works on all CPUs?

    PC virtualization has been around for years, and predates the special instructions. There is a hack called Binary Translation (BT) where a VM system patches the memory image of the guest program to cause a trap where the guest program uses any difficult-to-virtualize instruction.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_virtualization [wikipedia.org]

    The new Windows Virtual PC feature is based on the old Microsoft Virtual PC. Microsoft Virtual PC does not require the virtualization instructions; it can run using BT. So, the point ArsTechnica asked is: why did Microsoft require the virtualization instructions?

    I'll try to answer that question. But first, I'm going to rant.

    Microsoft has made this much weirder and more confusing than necessary. The new feature is "Windows Virtual PC" and the old, rather different feature, is "Microsoft Virtual PC". In three years, will we have some new third thing that is completely different and is called "Microsoft Windows Virtual PC"? I'll use some abbreviations: I'll call the shiny new Windows 7 virtualization solution, Windows Virtual PC, "W7V" (Windows 7 Virtualization). I'll call the old Microsoft Virtual PC "VPC" (Virtual PC). My first draft of this article was full of "Microsoft Virtual PC" and "Windows Virtual PC" and it was hard to keep track of which was which. Also, Microsoft has broken their web site: links that used to go to VPC are now redirected to W7V. If you are trying to get information on VPC, ha ha! You lose. I was able to find the download page for VPC 2007, but all the links for information now redirect to the W7V page. <end_rant>

    So, why did Microsoft require virtualization instructions for W7V? I'm just guessing here, but I think it's pretty obvious.

    Take a look at the comparision page for Windows Virtual PC:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/features/compare.aspx [microsoft.com]

    W7V adds some new features over the old VPC. Smart cards work, USB devices work, storage drives can be shared. This means that Microsoft did a nontrivial amount of work for W7V. I'll guarantee you that it was easier to just require the virtualization instructions than to try to use BT hacks across the whole Windows XP infrastructure; and this requirement slices away a whole bunch of old computers that now don't need to be tested for compatibility with the new W7V features.

    So, the work to create W7V was easier, and testing and support costs reduced, by this decision. Since only the very cheapest new CPUs don't have the virtualization instructions, and this feature was chiefly aimed at corporate customers (who usually don't buy bargain-bin hardware), this decision was likely viewed as a no-brainer.

    VPC is still available; customers who have old hardware and don't need the full features of W7V can just use VPC. And VPC remains a free download [microsoft.com]. (Of course, those customers could also switch to Ubuntu and run their old apps in VirtualBox [virtualbox.org]. I'm just sayin'.)

    steveha

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