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The Rambling DBA: Jonathan Kehayias

The random ramblings and rantings of frazzled SQL Server DBA

Hardware Virtualization no longer required for Windows 7 XP Mode

One of my frustrations in upgrading to Windows 7 last year was that Virtual PC no longer worked since I didn’t have Hardware Virtualization on my CPU.  This really drove my transition entirely to VMware Workstation on my personal laptop.  I recently reinstalled my work laptop (with permission) on Windows 7 Enterprise and figured I’d give XP Mode a look since this machine has Hardware Virtualization enabled.  I was surprised to find that Hardware Virtualization was no longer required, a change that occurred on March 18, 2010 according to this press release.

To install Windows XP Mode, you have to download and install an Activation Validation Tool, and then I had to allow IE 8 to run an add-on (reminded me of the Mac commercial).  Then you can download and install Windows XP Mode, Windows Virtual PC and a Windows XP Mode update from the Virtual PC website.

Its funny that the Books Online haven’t been updated yet to reflect these changes.  They still state the following:

To use Windows Virtual PC, your processor must support processor virtualization extensions such as Intel VT, AMD-V or VIA VT. You might need to enable these processor extensions in the BIOS.  (Windows Virtual PC and Windows XM Mode Setup and Installation Guide)

I saw bravo to Microsoft for fixing this.  I always felt that the requirements for processor virtualization extensions was a short coming in the product that has now been rectified.  Now if they just fix the BOL to reflect the change…(I am sure this is coming, it seems to take a long time to update BOL topics).

Published Sunday, March 28, 2010 8:50 PM by Jonathan Kehayias
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John Paul Cook said:

For optimum performance, you definitely want hardware virtualization enabled. Some machines have virtualization capable processors with hardware virtualization blocked in the bios. These users should keep pressing for a bios update. Sony VAIO users should still use the bios hacks to enable hardware virtualization.

The removal of the hardware virtualization is not a fix. It is a workaround where reduced performance is better than nothing.

For users who must use a non-Microsoft virtualization product because of a need for 64-bit virtual machines, I recommend VirtualBox over VMware.

March 30, 2010 12:07 PM

John Paul Cook said:

The recommendation of VirtualBox over VMware is for type 2 hypervisors, the kind that run on a desktop. For type 1 hypervisors, I recommend Microsoft Hyper-V over VMware. Hyper-V does fully support 64-bit virtual machines. I have 64-bit SQL Servers running in Hyper-V virtual machines.

March 30, 2010 1:19 PM
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