Tuesday, Microsoft clarified exactly what Windows 7 users will need if they want to run XP Mode (officially known as XP Virtual Machine). Although it appeared initially that XP Mode would include Windows XP SP3, Cnet's Ina Fried reports that users will need to supply their own licensed copies of Windows XP SP3 to go along with the free XP Mode download for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate editions.
As we reported Monday, XP Mode will indeed require hardware virtualization support in the processor, meaning that low-end processors as well as some older mid-range and high-end processors from Intel and AMD won't support XP Mode. Microsoft also states that computers will need at least 2GB of memory to run XP Mode. Thankfully, potential XP Mode users won't need to wait until after Windows 7 ships to see if XP Mode works for them: Fried states that Microsoft will roll out a beta of XP Mode at the same time as Windows 7 RC - May 5th for most of us.
So, who exactly is XP Mode designed for? If you haven't guessed already, it's designed for businesses using Windows XP. Here's why (from the Microsoft PressPass Q&A):
Windows XP Mode is best suited for older business and productivity applications such as accounting, inventory and similar applications. Windows XP Mode is not aimed at consumers because many consumer applications require extensive use of hardware interfaces such as 3-D graphics, audio, and TV tuners that do not work well under virtualization today.
In other words, if you want hardcore gaming on Windows XP, virtualization is not for you.
If you need to manage XP Mode on your business PCs, though, Microsoft is rolling out an update to its MED-V management tool for Virtual PC. MED-V 2.0 will be available in beta form within 90 days of the general release of Windows 7.
Keep tuned to Maximumpc.com for more about Windows 7 RC and XP Mode.