Microsoft: No Vista virtualization with some versions

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Feb
27

By: switchtoamac at: 11:34 AM on February 27, 2007 | Comments (1)

Brian Bergstein, AP Technology Writer reports that Microsoft is imposing restrictions on the ability of running the Home Basic and Home Premium versions of Vista with virtualization software.

If you want to run Vista in such a manner, you have to spend the extra cash on the Business or Ultimate versions.  The price difference between the versions can exceed $100 US and more.  In essence, Microsoft is attempting to restrict how home users can use Vista, especially if they own a Intel based Mac.  The restrictions don't end there, according to the Vista license terms some features in the higher-priced versions are also restricted.  More on that a bit later.

Currently, the most popular virtualization software for Intel based Macs is Parallels Desktop for Mac, from Parallels.  The software, which sells for less than $80 US, allows Mac users to run Windows from within the Mac OS X operating system.  Note however that Parallels Desktop for Mac does not include a copy of Windows, users must have their own licensed copy to allow the solution to work.

Some key quotes from Bergstein's article:
"After years of delays and billions in development and marketing efforts, it would seem that Microsoft Corp. would want anyone who possibly can to buy its new Windows Vista operating system. Yet Microsoft is making it hard for Mac owners and other potentially influential customers to adopt the software."

"Microsoft says the blockade is necessary for security reasons. But that is disputed. The circumstances might simply reflect a business decision Microsoft doesn't want to explain."

"The situation involves a technology known as virtualization. Essentially, it lets one computer mimic multiple machines, even ones with different operating systems. It does this by running multiple applications at the same time, but in separate realms of the computer."

"But now that Macintosh computers from Apple Inc. use Intel Corp. chips, just like Windows-based PCs, virtualization programs let Mac users easily switch back and forth between Apple's Mac OS X operating system and Windows. That could appeal to Mac enthusiasts who want access to programs that only work on Windows, including some games."

"Unlike Apple's free Boot Camp program that lets Windows run on a Mac, Parallels' $80 virtualization product for Macs does not require users to have just one operating system running at a time. Parallels runs Windows in a, well, window on the Mac desktop."

"The price of the virtualization software does not include a copy of Windows. And to get that copy, buyers have to agree to Vista's licensing rules -- a legally binding document. Lurking in that 14-page agreement is a ban on using the least expensive versions of Vista -- the $199 Home Basic edition and the $239 Home Premium edition -- in virtualization engines."

"Macs account for less than 5 percent of personal computers in the U.S., but Ben Rudolph, Parallels' marketing manager, says they nonetheless represent a market he's surprised to see Microsoft present with roadblocks."


The article then goes into a discussion of the supposed security risks cited by Microsoft and how AMD and Intel challenged those claims.  Note that the license restrictions will impact companies such as Parallels and EMC Corp.

Additional quotes from the article:
"even though Microsoft will let virtualization products run the higher-priced versions of Vista, some powerful features in those editions are also forbidden in virtualization. The license agreement prohibits virtualization programs from using Vista's BitLocker data-encryption service or from playing music, video or other content wrapped in Microsoft's copyright-protection technology. Microsoft says virtualization's security holes make those features dangerous as well."

"But not everyone agrees a virtualization lockdown is justified. In fact, virtualization has been considered a security enhancement. If applications run within their own walls, malicious code can be confined to that zone and not infect the rest of the computer."

"Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said virtualization may indeed introduce new complexities and security challenges. "But they're not greater than the technical issues surrounding some of the other features (Microsoft) decided to include," he said. "I don't buy that virtualization is dangerous."


You can read Brian Bergstein's article in full at Yahoo Business.

Apple's Boot Camp - The solution?
When Apple released Boot Camp beta (Intel builds of Tiger Mac OS X 10.4 only) in April 2006, the company stated that it would be included as a feature in the next version of Mac OS X, 10.5 Leopard.

To put it simply, Boot Camp is a dual-boot solution that allows Intel-based Macs the ability to boot into and run the Microsoft Windows operating system.  Note that Boot Camp is not a virtualization software, Boot Camp provides the ability to dual boot an Intel-based Mac.  It does not allow users to run OS X and Windows simultaneously.  As a result, the system will run either Mac OS X or Windows at any given time.  When the Mac boots, the user has the option to boot into Mac OS X or Windows.

Microsoft's Vista license restrictions do not apply to Boot Camp so Mac users are not restricted from running any version of Windows Vista on a Mac.  The only restriction is Vista's use in a virtualized environment.  Note  that the virtualization restriction does not apply to Windows XP.

These developments are relevant for potential switchers who would like to use Windows as they make the switch to a Mac.

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1 Reader Comments

Good news for German users: The above-described Windows Vista license restrictions are not applicable in Germany! :)

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