Although Windows 7's "XP Mode" has been a welcome feature of the new operating system, there's been a fair bit of confusion brought on by the virtualization layer's hardware requirements.

To work, XP Mode has required a PC processor that supports hardware virtualization, and that feature had to be turned on in the computer's BIOS (basic input/output system). Those requirements caused some consternation, as PC owners didn't always have an easy way to tell if their system fit the bill.

Well, those requirements are no more. As part of a wave of virtualization announcements on Thursday, Microsoft said people running Windows 7 will now be able to use XP Mode without having to know whether their PC processor supports hardware virtualization.

"This change simplifies the experience by making virtualization more accessible to many more PCs for small and midsize businesses wanting to migrate to Windows 7 Professional or higher editions, while still running Windows XP-based productivity applications," Microsoft said in a blog posting.

Full story: c|net