Thursday, August 20, 2009

Enable Hardware Virtualization on Sony VGN-AR71ZU

It is really annoying to discover that Sony disable hardware virtualization and do not provide a bios setting to allow it to be re-enabled. This prevents you from being able to use Windows Virtual PC/MP Mode in Windows 7. I finally managed to hack the bios and now have full hardware virtualization!

Hacking the bios is actually trivial provided you know the right register to change. Chris Hay has a blog post which describes the change for a VGN-AR71ZU (bios = Phoenix R2090J8). (

The trouble I had was creating a bootable USB memory stick. I spent hours messing around last night with absolutely no success. In the end I gave up on the USB stick and found an old USB floppy drive. I downloaded the ms-dos 6.22 disk images from MSDN and made myself a set of three setup disks. I then booted off the floppy, exited ms-dos setup with F3 and ran SYMCMOS as described in Chris’s blog post. The process was not helped by the fact that the USB floppy would not work on Vista or Windows 7 so I had to create the ms-dos setup disks on an old XP machine.

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