Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft’s virtual XP Mode has been released to manufacturing and will be generally available with Windows 7 on October 22. You may recall that when Microsoft revealed XP mode for the first time in May, it appeared to be lagging Windows 7.
The idea here is for XP Mode to provide a 32-bit virtual XP machine on Windows 7 for running legacy Windows XP applications that for one reason or another did not run on Vista and presumably would fare no better on Windows 7. I have personally run into several small business applications that misbehave oddly on Vista (not counting the numerous device driver incompatibilities which XP Mode won’t fix) and I’ll be interested to see if XP Mode will help. Yes, the vendors that create these applications should fix them, but that is cold comfort for small business users that depend on them. The same also applies to larger enterprises that create their own applications in-house and have been daunted by the task of converting them to Vista/Windows 7.
Note that XP mode will only be available as an add-on for Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise customers who are using PC’s with microprocessors that support hardware virtualization (Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V)) and not all recent PC’s qualify. Ed Bott explains and provides an Intel list with some AMD lists in the comments. Moreover, even if your microprocessor supports hardware virtualization, your PC vendor has to support it in BIOS as well. If you absolutely need XP Mode, you might well be better off waiting to buy a machine with it preloaded unless you are willing to wade through the swamp.