June 22, 2007 8:55 AM PDT

Week in review: Try to read Microsoft's hips

Microsoft almost made a change to its Vista operating system that people have been clamoring for. It was virtually a done deal.

On the eve of making the announcement, however, the company changed its mind and now doesn't want to talk about it.

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.

The technology, which allows multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on one computer, has become particularly important for Mac users who want to run Windows programs side by side with the Mac OS.

The company had said in interviews that it was still concerned about the security risks that the change might introduce but that it was going to make the change and leave the choice up to consumers.

Analysts had questioned the tie between security and the licensing restriction. The security risks apply to all versions of Vista. Similar risks might even be present if someone were running another operating system in a virtual machine, whether that is Linux or Windows XP, properly licensed in all its major versions to run inside a virtual machine.

Given all the feedback Microsoft had been getting, and apparently was keen to accommodate, it's not clear what prompted the last minute flip-flop. Even Microsoft's partners have gotten little explanation.

As part of its planned announcement, Microsoft had spoken with Parallels, securing a quote from one of its executives praising the deal. Like the rest of the industry, virtualization specialist Parallels was left scratching its head over the about-face.

"We haven't received any more information either," said Benjamin Rudolph, Parallels' director of corporate communications. "It's a little odd."

However, CNET News.com readers had their own ideas what prompted the flip-flop.

"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,'" wrote one reader to the News.com's TalkBack forum.

Meanwhile, in an effort to assuage Google and head off a further antitrust battle with U.S. regulators, Microsoft agreed to make changes to the desktop search feature in Vista. In a filing made jointly with the Justice Department, Microsoft said it would change the search feature as part of the first service pack to Vista.

Under the agreement, Microsoft will create a mechanism whereby computer makers and individuals will be able to choose a default desktop search program, much as they can choose a rival browser or media player, even though those technologies are built into Windows.

Yahoo CEO googled
After six years on the job, Yahoo Chief Executive Terry Semel stepped down and handed the reins of the struggling search company to co-founder Jerry Yang. The shakeup came nearly one week after a somewhat contentious shareholder meeting in which stockholders criticized Semel's pay in light of the company's lackluster stock price and failure to mount any serious challenge to Google on search advertising.

CONTINUED: Green construction sprouts…
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avoiding piracy? may actually make it worse!
The idea that MS could have not allowed VM installation because
someone may decide to buy only one licence and run it on
multiple macs is broken, IMO.

In fact, as your licence currently does not let you run even a
single copy in a VM, there's now no point in buying the OS at

And if you ARE running it in a VM, there's no point in paying to
become legal as it'll just not happen.

Besides ... why Vista in a VM on a Mac? If you are there you are
using OsX for most things and Windows only for some legacy
stuff or for testing/development (as in IE testing of your site).
In that case you have no reason to buy Vista: just go buy XP.
Posted by AndreaFerro (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Idea is broken? May actually not be at all!
The idea that MS could have not allowed VM installation because someone may decide to buy only one licence and run it on multiple Macs is very valid, in any unbiased person's opinion. In fact, you say my license currently does not let me run even a single copy in a VM? Maybe next time you should research before you speak, because Home Premium and Ultimate (for instance) let you run a copy in a VM. So, if you ARE running it in a VM (I thought you said that's impossible?), there's a point in paying to become legal as it can happen. Either way: why Vista in a VM on a Mac? Simple: because, as what happens with any Windows, sooner or later XP won't be supported anymore and some software will only run in Vista. Yeah, if you are "there" you are "only" using Windows to play all your games and half of your software (following your logic, 90+% of the world uses Windows just for legacy stuff and 85+% uses IE just for testing their sites, which is very realistic, I should say). In any case, you have all reasons to buy Vista: go buy XP and then complain you have to go buy Vista too anyway because half of your (tomorrow) software and hardware doesn't work in XP.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
Not security
It's not about security. It's about making money.

Is Microsoft now saying that Vista has security problems? I don't think so.

It's about making people buy the more expensive versions of Vista. Any individual, SOHO or small business that wanted to use the less expensive options under virtualization now cannot legally do so. They must buy the more expensive versions.

It's just another extortion method so common from Redmond.
Posted by shadowself (202 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why would a...
...SOHO need to run Vista desktop OS under virtualization unless one wants to run it on a Mac, for someone running a Mac, MS is not too keen to have them run Vista on Mac if one really wants it pay for it, after all they already paid a boat load to get a Mac.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Pardon my ingornance about the subject but... can OSX be virtualized on a Vista install running on non-Apple hardware?

I tinkered with a *cough* "tester" *cough* a while back that was OSX inside VMware on XP. And it was buggy and slow as all get out. Enough so that if I didn't know better I would say OSX was garbage. But I know that it was the VM setup that made it apear this way. But this might be part of M$ thought process.

If Vista would not run well on the VM then why allow it, just to make themselves look bad?

Personally I would like to be able to run OS X in my VM on XP or Vista... (if it would run efficently) but we ALL know APPLE wouldn't allow it. So why the hell is everyone whining about MS not allowing it? Come on... the OSX license comes right out and say you can't run it on anything other than apple branded hardware.
Posted by arluthier (112 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And I'm not giving Apple a cent as long as it does.
Then again, I'm not dishing out any of my money to Microsoft, either- I'm a Linux guy, but...

I almost don't care anymore. "Oh hey, proprietary software is overly limiting." NO REALLY. What else is new?
Posted by ethana2 (348 comments )
Link Flag
Read Microsoft's hips?
I guess we all know that Microsoft's hips don't lie! :)

Ohh, looks like they've already corrected the headline! Geez, come on C-Net! That was a fun typo, you coulda left it in for a little longer!
Posted by Hoser McMoose (182 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Virtual machines
Being an old guy, I guess that I'm confused. I remember the Burroughs 5500 and 360/67, both virtual machines. They were great. I have often wondered why this old idea didn't survive in pc-s. Clearly the only reasons are laziness on the part of designers, and greed on the part of the machine companies.
Posted by BlackieBernard (2 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft's hips?
Enough Microsoft!

I have gone back to XP and W2K. There are enough virus, malware and firewall apps out there to make W2k secure, behind a good router. Budgeting to upgrade equipment to Apple hardware and software.
Posted by Albertv (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Macs getting too popular
"Security" is just a pretext for forcing Mac users to pay more and prevent more switchers. If they're not using "security" as a pretext, Microsoft is admitting that Home versions are less secure than pricier versions-- not a good sign. So which is it? Market share or poor security? Makes me want to go out and purchase lots of Microsoft products. Not.
Posted by Xenu7-214951314497503184010868 (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So tell me again how many computers MS sells or manufactures. " If
you are really serious about software you should build your own
hardware" someone said. Nuff said.
Posted by jburkega (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So tell me again what is Apple's OS market share. If your product is the best in your market, it will sell the most, I say. 'Nuff said.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Link Flag
I thought Windows/Vista sucked?
Yet all news of this kind seem to **** and worry many Apple fanboys. Science case study: it sucks, yet everybody needs and wants it.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple Safari
When the browser has 3 security vulnerabilities disclosed in the first 3 hours of beta availability, it's certainly not the fact that pages load 0.01 ms faster without Phishing Filter and pictures have 263 million colors instead of 262 million that will make me (and much probably the other 85+% of people with computers who use IE) switch to buggy and unsecure Apple Safari.
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Forced "Upgrade" == Greed
I think the subject says it all. Micro$oft probably considered how they can divert the river of virtualization, reep (sp?) the monetary benefits, with the minimum of effort on their part.

Sorta like how the newest games published by them "require" Windows Vista, for no technical reason I can fathom...

Micro$oft: If Vista can't make it on its own merits, why bother?
Posted by phobet (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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