June 19, 2007 6:25 PM PDT

Microsoft flip-flops on Vista virtualization

Microsoft planned this week to announce that it was broadening the virtualization rights for Windows Vista, but decided at the last minute to reverse course and stick with existing limits.

The software maker had briefed reporters and analysts on plans to allow the Home versions of Vista to run in virtual machines, addressing criticisms from virtualization enthusiasts and Mac users who had chafed at having to buy one of the two priciest versions of Windows in order to run Vista in a virtual machine.

Software like Parallels Desktop for the Mac or Microsoft's own Virtual PC for Windows allow multiple operating systems to run simultaneously. When it announced licensing rules for Vista last year, Microsoft said that only Vista Business and Vista Ultimate could run as guest operating systems. The company said virtualization presents inherent security risks and that it hoped by limiting which versions of the OS could act as virtual machines, only sophisticated users and businesses would employ the tactic.

On the Mac in particular, though, virtualization has become a consumer feature and many people wanted to use the Home versions of Vista, which Microsoft executives concede present no additional security risk.

The company said in interviews this week that it was still concerned about the security risks, but said it was going to make the change and leave the choice up to users.

"Virtualization enthusiasts would like to make that choice," said Scott Woodgate, a director in the Windows Business Group. "We're really responding to that feedback."

Earlier this week, when Microsoft was believed to be planning to make the licensing changes, Parallels praised the software maker and said it was pleased it had listened to customers.

"When we got the news we were obviously very, very happy," Benjamin Rudolph, Parallels director of corporate communications, said Monday before Microsoft changed its mind. In that interview, Rudolph said that his users had struggled to understand Microsoft's rationale for limiting which versions of Vista could run alongside the Mac OS. "They want to use Vista, but they were a little confused as to why they had to pay $400."

After Microsoft's reversal, Rudolph expressed disappointment with the decision.

"While we're disappointed that Microsoft won't be changing the Vista (license agrement) to permit users to run all versions of Vista in a virtual machine, it is ultimately up to Microsoft to decide how they want to license their own software, and we respect their decision," Rudolph said in an e-mail to CNET News.com. "We'll definitely keep working with Microsoft on this issue."

Microsoft provided little explanation for the about-face.

"Microsoft has reassessed the Windows virtualization policy and decided that we will maintain the original policy announced last fall," the software maker said in a statement late Tuesday.

See more CNET content tagged:
virtualization, virtual machine, security risk, software company, Microsoft Windows Vista


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Yeah, Right
This licensing term will not withstand a real legal test. Please, someone, bring on the test! The claim that Microsoft's limits on Vista Home is for security reasons is nothing but a big fat lie. It is simply that virtualizaiton is the single biggest threat to Microsoft's OS hegemony. I hope we don't let bogus licensing terms prevent legitimate technological developments from destroying their undeserved dominance.
Posted by MichaelWorobec (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More sales?
"It is simply that virtualizaiton is the single biggest threat to
Microsoft's OS hegemony"

I don't understand why MicroSoft cares if Vista is running on a
virtual machine or a "brick and mortar" machine. Either way they
sell a license for Vista. Am I missing something?
Posted by Lee in San Diego (608 comments )
Link Flag
a little worried...
that's how MS feels right now.
Posted by Jesus#2 (127 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista = 2x Memory
Vista sucks up twice as much memory as XP just for the OS. Unless you have gobs of extra memory to waste, it's a better choice to run XP in a virtual machine. An even better choice is Windows 2000, which uses half as much memory as XP.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
2x not quite
no your so wrong ... while vista is pretty crappy right now ... it uses the same amount of memory on my computer with desktop thingy closed.

pretty close to the same... if anything maybe 50mb more
Posted by keypox (8 comments )
Link Flag
Stating = clueless
Its called super fetch. Vista will use idle ram to speed things up, searches, frequently used applications....etc.

If an application needs the RAM....it gives it up. With XP or 2000...your extra RAM you bought to play some game is wasted 90% of the time.

www.rif.org it has helped many.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
That's just dumb and myopic.
One of the main reasons to run a guest OS is to test software products and designs.

If a developer has Vista Business as his main OS, he would still need Vista Home for some testing.

What MS' decision means is that developers will have to get a second PC to run Vista Home, comtributing more carbon to global warming.

So very anti-environment.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please look into things before posting
This is exactly how bad info gets passed around, until it is considered 'fact', when in fact it is just FUD

If you are a developer, and part of MSDN(which most are), you can run ANY Vista in a virtual environment.
Remember the whole Developers, developers, developers thing? MS is still quite dedicated to them, and getting them to write software for the PC.

If your on a Mac? I'd personally go ahead and run Home regardless. Is it against the letter of the EULA? Yes, but I don't think MS will care. They just don't want to support it.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft is Pathetic!
There is a reason for the cheaper version of the Vista OS: they don't
buy the additional applications added to the premium versions. No
one would want to pay extra for a worthless collection of inferior
software from Vista when they have the ilife suite. Those that buy
Vista to put on a MAC simply want the OS; the rest of the software
is not worth the space on the hard drive.
If Microsoft goes through with this, I WILL NOT buy Vista. This
idea would only hurt Microsoft, so they dismiss it out of hand.
Posted by Battleshipagincourt (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Because everyone knows that the OS gives you everything you need. Who needs all those applications to waste all that space on your hard drive?

Posted by sfergy227 (1 comment )
Link Flag
i don't think microsoft really cares run your itools they suck anyways(NT)
Posted by Zandor (6 comments )
Link Flag
Macs getting too popular
No other reason.
Posted by Xenu7-214951314497503184010868 (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The cure:
1) Install Linux w/ Xen

2) Run Vista Home on that (if you, err, actually [i]want[/i] to run

3) Tell MSFT what they can do w/ their EULA. It isn't as if they're
going to bang down your door and demand to inspect your
computer (on the minus side, no tech support...)

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft what else does need one to say
Microsoft gives less about their customers that almost any
entity I can think of, except the US GOVT. They should have
been broken up in the 90's but it did not happen because of
their contributions to Clinton.

They are a monopoly that should have been broken up long

They are the virus on the intellectual capital of the US, if not
the world.
Posted by georgiarat (254 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft worried one license could used on mulitple "Virtual Machines"?
Apple has addressed this with Boot Camp. Simply restart any
Intel Mac running Boot Camp and then run Vista. No virtual
machine needed. This will not stop anyone from buying a Mac.
It?ll just put Parallels out of business.

Microsoft's real reason for not wanting users to run Vista in a
?virtual machine? is they are worried that someone dishonest will
buy one copy of Vista and install it on multiple Macs via ?virtual
machine? software.

If it's a "virtual machine" there is no way for Microsoft's "Genuine
Advantage" System to tell if a license is running on "multiple"
pieces of hardware, probably because the "Windows OS" would
think multiple "virtual machines" are the same piece of

Maybe Microsoft is seeing a Windows license getting ?the same?
updates downloaded multiple times. This would not be possible
if Windows XP/Vista were running on actual hardware.

But to me that's not the consumer?s problem, just because some
are dishonest. Microsoft should just come up with another
solution for updating for those who are running Windows Vista
on a virtual machine.

It?ll be interesting to see what happens in Vista?s next Service
Posted by Terrence Koonce (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Boot Camp not Virtualization
Technically speaking, Boot Camp isn't virtualization. BC is a dual boot utility.

Parallels at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.parallels.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.parallels.com</a> is virtualization.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
Link Flag
bootcamp won't drive Parallels out of business
booting windows via bootcamp is like booting any machine into windows - the bootcamp sw installs the necessary drivers to make a MacIntel machine into a WIntel machine. The advantage of virtualization is not needing to reboot. These are very different beasts, and bootcamp won't replace virtualization, and probably virtualization won't replace booting up the Wintel machine.
Posted by Art Kaye (6 comments )
Link Flag
Just to remind everyone
I don't think Microsoft is worried about money with macs selling
better for two reasons:

1: Even with the recent boost in sales, Macs still don't reach
more than 10% market share at best.

2: One of the largest shareholders in Apple is.....(pause for
dramatic effect)......Microsoft. This is due to a Cross Liscensing
agreement the two companies made in the late 90's where
Microsoft gained the rights to put MS Office on the mac, IE
became the standard browser (till 10.3/10.4 when Safari became
standard), Microsoft brought millions in Apple stock, both
gained the right to leverage the other's technology that had
been developed up to that point (to settle long running patent
disputes), and several other points but these are the main ones.

So, I think that it has more to do with using the same liscense on
multiple virtual machines than competition between MS and
Apple because they sell their OS anyway but, it cost more to
support and OS and it someone is getting the same support on
multiple boxes it begins to cost MS money. If this is the root
reason for the differienation, I think the solution was a good
one. However, I see no other logical reason for the EULA-
virtualization distinction.

Most definately the security bit they put out was complete BS.
Posted by BrandonEubanks (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good conclusion, slight correction
MS sold its $50M of non-voting, Apple stock many years ago for
a big profit. As you said, the stock transaction was involved in
settlement of patent violations (involving Microsoft stealing
QuickTime code among others). Like an out of court settlement
of a law suit, the details of the transaction are sealed and have
never been fully disclosed. MS currently has no investment in
Posted by calcompcare (8 comments )
Link Flag
MS does NOT "own" Apple or it's stock
They do do not "own" Apple, or thier stock.
This is a myth.

There was a cross licensing deal that you mentioned, which also included QuickTime technology and an investment/endorsment of Apple. That's it.
MS's blessing of Apple in it's hour of need was mutually beneficial because MS makes a lots of money from Mac Office, more importantly, it was an effort by MS to keep the Antitrust lawyers off their back because Mac OS represented OS competition (although only Intel based OSes were "chosen" as competition in the Antitrust trial). Apple was a differnt company then with different management. Jobs set things right since then.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Pirating MS products in not illegal
IMO; A company that is a convicted monopolist, but has not paid a price or changed its practices, in turn is not deserving of any legal protection. I hereby declare all MS products are free to pirate. (I actually said something to this effect in the late 80's, it only becomes more relevant as time goes on.) And to this day, I've never paid a dime for any MS product...ever. These days, except to play a game or two anyone can do without MS products and be well off.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah, and it's OK to kill "bad guys," steal cars from "rich people" and blow up headwuarters for "evil corporations."

Do you really think the world works this way or are you simply trying to justify your illegal acts?

-Mister Winky
Posted by Mister Winky (301 comments )
Link Flag
The WINE/Codeweavers Option
This is yet another reason to run Windows applications (such as
FrameMaker) under WINE/Codeweavers. It avoids all the security
issues of Windows and this absurdly high Windows tax.

I'll pay $129 to upgrade to OS X Leopard for the vast majority of
my computing. There's no way I'll pay $400 to run an occasional
application or two in an inferior OS. For that WINE emulation is
more than good enough.
Posted by InklingBooks (90 comments )
Reply Link Flag
if they count each virtualized instance as an install, that will
make...... hang on,..... carry the two......

37 installs of Vista in the wild! woot!
Posted by shane--2008 (343 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lose one, win one
Seems like an impulsive reaction of irritated giant - lose to Google and antitrust regulators (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Microsoft+agrees+to+change+Vista+desktop+search/2100-1012_3-6192065.html?tag=nefd.lede" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Microsoft+agrees+to+change+Vista+desktop+search/2100-1012_3-6192065.html?tag=nefd.lede</a>), get even by reversing another community-suggested policy.
Posted by flhack (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I can't believe it either
it was very strange. plus all i have been hearing is that it takes up almost 3 times the memory (and xp was almost 2 times as mutch.
Posted by beaverbutt (1 comment )
Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.