Microsoft Drops XP Mode Hardware Requirement

Microsoft unveiled XP Mode last April, positioning it as a way for small businesses to run legacy XP applications from within Windows 7. But XP Mode, a virtual Windows XP SP3 environment running under Windows Virtual PC, until now has only worked with virtualization-enabled processors from Intel and AMD.

XP Mode also requires PCs with at least 2 gigabytes of RAM and 15 gigabytes of free hard drive space, and Microsoft's advice to customers was to buy new PCs from its OEM partners.

Now that the hardware requirement no longer applies, Microsoft says XP Mode will be easier for customers to deploy.

"This change makes it extremely easy for businesses to use Windows XP Mode to address any application incompatibility roadblocks they might have in migrating to Windows 7," said Brandon LeBlanc, communications manager on the Windows Client Team, in a Thursday blog post.

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XP mode was intended to smooth the Windows 7 migration path for customers and showed Microsoft's resolve to not leave customers twisting in the wind with compatibility glitches as it did with Vista.

But despite the still-moribund economy, there are signs that Windows 7's rave reviews are translated into deployment plans. In a report issued this week, Dimensional Research found that 58 percent are planning to deploy Windows 7 by the end of the year, and 47 percent aren't planning to wait until Windows 7 Service Pack 1 comes out before making the move.