Microsoft had introduced a virtual machine feature, the XP Mode, when they released Windows 7 for the first time. With this feature, it is possible to run Windows XP under Windows 7. The system will act as if the XP operating system is accessed from another physical computer. This makes it possible for Windows 7 users to run older applications that may not be compatible with the latest version of Windows.
However, unfortunately, it turns out that XP Mode does not always succeed with what it is intended to do. There are several possible causes for this failure. It is not guaranteed to be compatible with all sorts of specifications since the virtual machine feature needs CPU hardware support, too. To check for the compatibility, users can go to Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool website.
Another possible cause is that it may have been blocked by BIOS – Basic Input/Output System that exists on every computer. This is usually quite easy to solve. All that needs to be done is to go through BIOS and search for VIA VT, AMD-V or Intel VT utility and check if it is activated or allowed to run. For some extra help, Microsoft website is often a good reference.
The next factor is that some laptop or computer manufacturers may have blocked virtualization technology as a precaution to possible security issues. Sony is one example. They have been trying to block this technology in Vaio laptops forcing the users to edit the firmware that comes with the Vaio laptops if they really want to enable virtualization. Fortunately, rumor has it that Sony is unblocking the technology now. However, BIOS upgrade seems to always work when everything else fails.
Upgrading BIOS is not quite a recommendable thing to do, though. It may damage the computer once and for all. Therefore, it is more preferable to use third party utilities such as VirtualBox. This is quite a good choice since it does not require any support on the hardware side.
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