February 27, 2007 3:14 PM PST

VMware fires broadside at Microsoft

VMware, the incumbent power in the blossoming realm of virtualization, has accused Microsoft of using foul play to promote its own competing products.

In a white paper published Friday, the EMC subsidiary said Microsoft is using Windows licensing terms to prevent customers from taking full advantage of virtualization.

"Microsoft is trying to restrict customers' flexibility and freedom to choose virtualization software by limiting who can run their software and how they can run it," VMware said.

The software giant rejected VMware's assertions.

"Microsoft believes the claims made in VMware's white paper contain several inaccuracies and misunderstandings of our current license and use policies, our support policy and our commitment to technology collaboration," Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager of virtualization strategy, said in a statement Tuesday. "We believe that we are being progressive and fair with our existing licensing and use policies and creating a level playing field for partners and customers," he said

Neil added that he believes Microsoft and VMware will be able to settle their differences.

Virtualization lets a single computer run multiple operating systems simultaneously, in compartments called virtual machines. That sharing lets companies use their computers more efficiently. The ultimate promise of virtualization is broader than that, however: by moving virtual machines from one server to another, companies can create data centers that can automatically adjust to shifting work demands or hardware outages.

The Microsoft-VMware debate spotlights the difficult adjustments necessary, as the industry moves into a world where a new software layer breaks the hard link between operating systems and the hardware they use.

There are technical challenges. Software can't be as tightly tied to hardware such as hard drives or network cards, and an operating system might be moved from an overtaxed dual-processor server at one moment to a more powerful eight-processor machine the next.

And there are business challenges too, as companies such as Microsoft and VMware jockey for technology leadership and customer account control.

It's easy to envision virtualization technology as part of the operating system, but VMware has made a strong business selling it as a separate component. Right now, it is moving to deliver higher-level management features that take on products from Microsoft and others.

But Microsoft is building virtualization into the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, and that could be a minefield for the software company. It has already faced antitrust challenges by building its Internet Explorer browser and Windows Media Player software into the operating system.

VMware stopped short of accusing Microsoft of violating antitrust law--which prohibits a company with a monopoly in one market from using that power to extend into another market--but it came close.

"Microsoft is leveraging its ownership of the market-leading operating system and numerous applications that are market leaders in their respective categories...to drive customers to use Microsoft virtualization products," VMware said. Microsoft needs make sure it's possible for Windows and Windows-based software "to be created, licensed, supported and distributed equivalently on Microsoft or non-Microsoft system virtualization stacks."

VMware leveled several charges at Microsoft:

• Microsoft shared hypervisor interface details at a hardware conference but isn't permitting other virtualization companies to use them. The exception is Novell, which signed a broad intellectual property partnership with Microsoft.

• "Microsoft licensing policies ask for permanent assignment of operating system licenses to hardware and then restrict the movement of those operating system licenses, even for virtualized environments that can be moved seamlessly from machine to machine," VMware said.

In particular, Microsoft permits Windows Server licenses to be moved only once every 90 days, VMware said. That breaks VMware's VMotion technology (which moves running virtual machines from one computer to another) and the higher-level Distributed Resource Manager (which balances software work with available hardware by moving virtual machines with VMotion).

• Virtual machines stored in Microsoft's VHD format may not be converted into other virtual machine formats, including VMware's.

• Microsoft provides support for virtualization only to customers with premier support contracts.

Neil also defended Microsoft's position in a statement and in a blog entry.

"In the end, customers with mixed environments expect it all to work together," Neil said. For that reason, Microsoft is sharing interface details for its current Virtual Server 2005 product and has begun sharing preliminary details with its upcoming Windows Server virtualization technology, code-named Viridian, he said.

Mac users have been in for a tough haul with Windows Vista's virtualization policies. While Intel-based Macs have made it technically reasonable to run Windows through virtualization, and Parallels' software makes it relatively easy, Microsoft has made it expensive to do so legally. Running Vista on a Mac through virtualization requires a full, not an upgrade, version of Windows. Plus, only Vista Business and Ultimate are authorized for it, and not the far less pricy Home Basic or Home Premium varieties.

Neil, though, argued that most consumers just aren't ready for virtual machines.

"Virtualization is a new technology for consumers, and one that isn't mature enough yet from a security perspective for broad consumer adoption," he wrote. "Our security and data protection features can potentially be subverted by a malicious virtualization layer. We're working with the hardware and software industry to improve the security of virtualization technologies and we will evolve our licensing policies as virtualization becomes more widely used on client systems."

See more CNET content tagged:
virtualization, VMware, antitrust, virtual machine, Microsoft Corp.

16 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Wah, wah, wah
Basically they are throwing a fit because Microsoft is giving something away and they want to make money selling people VMWare. I'm sick of all these companies telling me what is "good for me" is to spend money on their product. If Microsoft wants to give away a product, then I say more power to them. If it helps me work better and more efficiently then that is all that matters to me.
Posted by rstinnett (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If only you had a clue....
Your comment would have been meaningful. However it was completely backwards. Microsoft is trying to convince people to buy their 'server' software to get virtualization.

They already GIVE AWAY FOR FREE VMWare Player, and VMWare Server. And for far less than the price of Vista, you can buy a license for VMWare Workstation.

Personally I think VMWare is a much better buy than any version of Windows.
Posted by Jeruvy (1 comment )
Link Flag
Not quite
The problem isn't that MS wants to give it away for free. It's that
MS wants to keep VMWare from selling it now, so that MS can
lock people into their system later on.

If MS has a better widget, they should compete straight up. They
shouldn't use the legalese of their EULA to stifle competition
until they have time to catch up.

If it helps you work better and more efficiently, and you have
access to it now, you shouldn't be blocked from that access by a
predatory competitor abusing their monopoly power.
Posted by calpundit (69 comments )
Link Flag
Consumer should dictate what they're ready for
not Microsoft and their thinly veiled attempt to extort more money from users who want virtualization. It's frankly rather insulting for Microsoft to presume to know what method of running an OS is best for consumers. It was bad enough they turned Vista into Hollywood's wet dream for DRM and pulled most of the compelling features.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft EULA restrictions - virtual environment
Considering that Microsoft is in the process of working on it's own
version of 'virtual environments' the restrictions in their eula for
Vista would constitute restraint of trade and would almost
definitely violate, if not in fact, then in principle the anti-trust
agreements reached with the federal and state governments as
weill as the European Union.
Posted by adkero (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Dept of Justice didn't go far enough, and probably won't
Clearly the penalties placed on Microsoft for its extreme
antitrust behavior through the 90s have done nothing to curb its
behavior.

If anything, because it got off so lightly, it's validated an
effective business practice.

So, it's doing it all over again: locking Symantec out of the Vista
security market, disadvantaging VMWare as reported here,
forcing a switch from Google Search to MSN Search for average
IE 7 users, etc, etc.

These are all clear cut cases of a monopoly using its dominance
in one area to unfairly favor its other businesses.

What is the most worrying though is that Dept of Justice activity
seems to be heavily influenced by the reigning political power,
which means that further action is unlikely to be taken until the
Republicans are removed from office.

However, by 2009, many companies may have already
succumbed to Netscape's fate...

And still consumers continue to pour money into Microsoft's
bulging coffers.
Posted by dotmike (154 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE
"So, it's doing it all over again: locking Symantec out of the Vista security market, disadvantaging VMWare as reported here, forcing a switch from Google Search to MSN Search for average IE 7 users, etc, etc."

Symantec wasn't locked out of the market for security software, they through a tantrum because they actually change their software for a new OS. To be honest keeping developers out of the OS kernel is probably a good thing, and the enforcement is much better on the 64 bit version because of hypervisor technology. That and Microsoft doesn't have to be tied down with legacy support under 64 bit version so it was good opportunity to make changes to the kernel. They did cave a little with 32bit versions.

When I installed IE7 it was really a big deal. I clicked the drop down arrow next to the search button and selected "cahnge search defaults". There is link on the resulting dialog that says "Find more providers", and one of the options is Google. It actually pretty simple compared to previous versions of IE.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
What happen to web app technology?
were we supposed to have by now web based apps? I mean a slew of applications you buy in on a monthly scale to use online? Did that just die out or what?

The Idea of VMware seems like a cost effective way to reduce having a computer per desk, when all many people might just need is a terminal for work, and just a CD drive and usb ports to export data.

Why are we wanting to stick to somthing that could also bridge out to homes. AOL Anywhere terminal displays, ETC... you know

The ideas are good, but I guess hardware manufactures would lose out and software companies might as well. pfft Forget them!

If I could build one machiene here at home and all five of us in the family could get on terminals .... oh hmmm..... (get's paper out and starts writing...

BAH! I'm not going to give away another million dollar idea... LOL!
Posted by bradyme (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista GUI slows down creativity
I.Y. ENQUIRER NEWS ARTICLE:

Full path to this article, including comments: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.it-enquirer.com/main/ite/comments/944/" target="_newWindow">http://www.it-enquirer.com/main/ite/comments/944/</a>

Windows Vista Hinders Creative Users? Efficiency Even More than Windows XP Did
Created: February 26, 2007 - By: Erik Vlietinck

Guess what? Despite Microsoft?s efforts to provide for a more fluid and agreeable interface with Vista?s Aero, Pfeiffer Consulting found Vista to be even worse than Windows XP (SP2) --and of course Mac OS X. Their conclusion is backed with cold, hard research. Pfeiffer Consulting conducted the research based on an independently financed series of benchmarks that establish how Vista impacts User Interface Friction (UIF) and user efficiency.

Pfeiffer Consulting, a Paris/France based international research and consulting operation specialised in technology and media, just recently released a report on Windows Vista User Interface Friction (UIF). UIF is a Pfeiffer concept, which describes and quantifies the perceived differences in efficiency and user experience between operating system, applications, and digital devices. UIF defines the fluidity and productivity that can be observed when performing the same operation on different computer systems, programs or devices.

Pfeiffer Consulting looked for a specific number of issues that it knew under-performed in previous versions of Windows. With Windows Vista, Microsoft claims to have re-invented the Windows interface, making it simpler and more efficient to use. Some Mac users pointed out from the beginning that Aero looked suspiciously close to what Tiger has to offer. With Pfeiffer?s report in mind, their observations seem to miss the point. Even if Microsoft has been playing copycat all over, the results are simply lousy --there?s no other word for it.

The benchmarks run on Vista?s performance were a selection of what Pfeiffer can measure. The results of this new report are therefore nowhere near a complete assessment of the Windows Vista environment where it matters for creative professionals. The first benchmark Pfeiffer measured is Mouse Precision Mouse precision is essential for those who use the mouse to accurately position elements: CAD, graphic design, page layout, web design, etc.

Lack of Precision, Slow Menus and Desktop Operations Rule in Vista/Aero
The lack of precision is detrimental to such work, but can also affect daily tasks on a subliminal level. Pfeiffer says it may go unnoticed for many users, but can have a significant ripple effect in terms of efficiency and computer-related stress. In the area of Mouse Precision, Windows Vista scored worse than Windows XP. Where Mac OS X scored 0.08, Windows XP scored 0.40 and Vista/Aero 0.52. The lack of precision has worsened, but perhaps not by much.

However, other User Interface Friction has worsened by a substantial amount, even when compared to Windows XP. Pfeiffer?s report also covers Menu Latency --the slight lag that Windows imposes when displaying menus and submenus. Here, the report concludes Vista/Aero has worsened by no less than 20% compared to Windows XP.

Finally, Desktop Operations --such as opening folders, deleting elements, etc) also show Vista/Aero has become worse than Windows XP. The lag has increased by 16%.

Pfeiffer Consulting advises to think very carefully before migrating or upgrading to Windows Vista in the creative department. Their benchmarks show that creative professionals will actually become less productive than they would be when using Windows XP. Of course, Mac OS X remains a clear winner in this area. The reasons why that is so is explained in Pfeiffer?s full report on the matter.
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista GUI slows down creativity
I.Y. ENQUIRER NEWS ARTICLE:

Full path to this article, including comments: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.it-enquirer.com/main/ite/comments/944/" target="_newWindow">http://www.it-enquirer.com/main/ite/comments/944/</a>

Windows Vista Hinders Creative Users? Efficiency Even More than Windows XP Did
Created: February 26, 2007 - By: Erik Vlietinck

Guess what? Despite Microsoft?s efforts to provide for a more fluid and agreeable interface with Vista?s Aero, Pfeiffer Consulting found Vista to be even worse than Windows XP (SP2) --and of course Mac OS X. Their conclusion is backed with cold, hard research. Pfeiffer Consulting conducted the research based on an independently financed series of benchmarks that establish how Vista impacts User Interface Friction (UIF) and user efficiency.

Pfeiffer Consulting, a Paris/France based international research and consulting operation specialised in technology and media, just recently released a report on Windows Vista User Interface Friction (UIF). UIF is a Pfeiffer concept, which describes and quantifies the perceived differences in efficiency and user experience between operating system, applications, and digital devices. UIF defines the fluidity and productivity that can be observed when performing the same operation on different computer systems, programs or devices.

Pfeiffer Consulting looked for a specific number of issues that it knew under-performed in previous versions of Windows. With Windows Vista, Microsoft claims to have re-invented the Windows interface, making it simpler and more efficient to use. Some Mac users pointed out from the beginning that Aero looked suspiciously close to what Tiger has to offer. With Pfeiffer?s report in mind, their observations seem to miss the point. Even if Microsoft has been playing copycat all over, the results are simply lousy --there?s no other word for it.

The benchmarks run on Vista?s performance were a selection of what Pfeiffer can measure. The results of this new report are therefore nowhere near a complete assessment of the Windows Vista environment where it matters for creative professionals. The first benchmark Pfeiffer measured is Mouse Precision Mouse precision is essential for those who use the mouse to accurately position elements: CAD, graphic design, page layout, web design, etc.

Lack of Precision, Slow Menus and Desktop Operations Rule in Vista/Aero
The lack of precision is detrimental to such work, but can also affect daily tasks on a subliminal level. Pfeiffer says it may go unnoticed for many users, but can have a significant ripple effect in terms of efficiency and computer-related stress. In the area of Mouse Precision, Windows Vista scored worse than Windows XP. Where Mac OS X scored 0.08, Windows XP scored 0.40 and Vista/Aero 0.52. The lack of precision has worsened, but perhaps not by much.

However, other User Interface Friction has worsened by a substantial amount, even when compared to Windows XP. Pfeiffer?s report also covers Menu Latency --the slight lag that Windows imposes when displaying menus and submenus. Here, the report concludes Vista/Aero has worsened by no less than 20% compared to Windows XP.

Finally, Desktop Operations --such as opening folders, deleting elements, etc) also show Vista/Aero has become worse than Windows XP. The lag has increased by 16%.

Pfeiffer Consulting advises to think very carefully before migrating or upgrading to Windows Vista in the creative department. Their benchmarks show that creative professionals will actually become less productive than they would be when using Windows XP. Of course, Mac OS X remains a clear winner in this area. The reasons why that is so is explained in Pfeiffer?s full report on the matter.
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yet another app to be bundled/integrated/comingled into Windows
And none of the others were Microsoft's ideas either.
Powerpoint, the web Browser, antivirus, media player...

Same old Microsoft, same old DOJ "NO-versite".
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's about the money
Whether the copy of windows is on a pc, mac or a virtual enviroment, Microsoft wants you to pay for that unique copy.

People that run windows on their system and on a virtual system will have to pay for two copies of windows.

Microsoft is in heaven while everyone else is in hell.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply 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

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.