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Microsoft's Virtualization Stance Eying Apple? 238

Posted by Zonk
from the shifty-glances dept.
Pisces writes "Over the past several days, Microsoft has flip-flopped on virtualization in Vista, with one ascribing the change in policy to concerns over DRM. A piece at Ars Technica raises another, more likely possibility: fear of Apple. Apple is technically an OEM, and could offer copies of Vista at a discounted price. 'All of this paints a picture in which Apple could use OEM pricing to offer Windows for its Macs at greatly reduced prices and running in a VM. The latter is absolutely crucial; telling users that they need to reboot into their Windows OS isn't nearly as sexy as, say, Coherence in Parallels. If you've never seen Coherence, it's quite amazing. You don't need to run Windows apps in a VM window of Vista. Instead, the apps appear to run in OS X itself, and the environment is (mostly) hidden away. VMWare also has similar technology, dubbed Unity.' Is Microsoft terrified of a world where Windows can be virtualized and forced to take a back seat to Mac OS X or Linux?"
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Microsoft's Virtualization Stance Eying Apple?

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @09:42AM (#19648763)
    ...with people using the lower-priced versions of Vista in virtualization environments they don't understand - on any platform - and then expecting support in such environments.

    Obviously, there is nothing technical preventing a person from using any version of Vista in virtualization, and nothing at all, including the license, preventing usage of any version of Vista in Boot Camp.

    I can't see a scenario where Apple would be interested in becoming a Windows OEM, supporting Windows, etc. Apple is more content with knowing that users in supported enterprise/academic/government environments can get Macs and use nifty technologies like Parallels, VMware, Boot Camp, etc., but isn't interested in getting into the Windows game itself.

    One interesting item of note is that at many sites with Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreements, such as our own, Windows XP Pro and Windows Vista Enterprise are available essentially for free (just the cost of the media) for all departmentally-owned computers - including usage in virtualization, and including usage on Intel-based Macs.

    So there are plenty of environments already that are very much taking advantage of this. Microsoft might not shed a tear if its licensing policy for Vista Home editions makes it a little harder financially for some people to justify the jump to Mac, but I doubt that's their primary focus.

    Also, Apple doesn't really want to make it too easy for people to run Windows and Windows apps - just when they really need to. The idea is to bring more users to Mac OS X, so that app developers will bring apps to Mac OS X, which use all the nifty Mac OS X functionality. Who wants to run on a great OS (assuming that's the reason you switch) with all of your apps running in some Windows layer? Besides, many people who think they "need" Windows really don't, but the knowledge that they can run Windows if they needed to gets them over the hurdle. Or maybe the run Windows for a while, and realize they can duplicate everything they need and then some in OS X.

    That said, yes, the seamless desktop integration features of Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are really impressive. You can, for the most part, use Windows apps and Mac OS X apps seamlessly, side by side, with Dock integration, and even the ability to specify which kinds of documents open in which environment when double-clicked.

    In any event, there are other issues here on both sides.
  • by smitty97 (995791) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @10:00AM (#19648919)

    I think Microsoft is more concerned.....with people using the lower-priced versions of Vista in virtualization environments they don't understand - on any platform - and then expecting support in such environments.
    OEM versions of Windows don't get Microsoft support, they get the OEM's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @10:02AM (#19648945)
    One interesting item of note is that at many sites with Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreements, such as our own, Windows XP Pro and Windows Vista Enterprise are available essentially for free (just the cost of the media) for all departmentally-owned computers - including usage in virtualization, and including usage on Intel-based Macs.

    Even under the volume licensing agreement, each separate copy of Windows that gets installed still does have to be accounted for, and paid for... just because you're not the one who has to do the accounting and paying doesn't mean that the license is free at all. I'm the one in our company who has to do this job, and I can't seem to get it thru the thick heads of our junior staff here that despite the fact that we have an MS enterprise licensing agreement in place, that it doesn't mean that they can go about willy-nilly installing various MS software anywhere and everywhere they please. It still must be done in a strict accounting and inventory managed way, and each piece of MS software installed onto a pile of hardware must be justified by proper business authorization, and approved by a manager with budget authority *BEFORE IT GETS INSTALLED* because at the end of each fiscal year cycle, we still have to write a check to MS for whatever got deployed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @10:28AM (#19649261)
    Actually, WIN-OS2 was initially based on the real win3.1 source code (old agreement with MS), but the memory management was modified to be hosted by OS/2 virtual memory. The changes to the win3.1 codebase were so small, that a later version of OS/2 (red box) came without WIN-OS2 and (during the installation) recreated the entire WIN-OS2 from actual win3.1 binary code already present on the customer's hard disk.
    So it was much closer to full virtualization than you think.

    In any case, what really matters is not the technology. What matters is the user experience. In that regard, the similarity between the WIN-OS2 case and "Win32 on top of OSX" is striking. And old Ballmer is known to repeat good old proven strategies.
  • by hummassa (157160) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @10:37AM (#19649365) Homepage Journal

    Retail Home variants of Vista also aren't licensed for virtualization. Where do you think that support comes from?
    In my experience, nowhere. I don't have the recollection of ONE SINGLE PERSON that tried the support number for Home variants of MS OSs that succeeded in having their questions answered.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:45AM (#19650281) Homepage Journal

    OS/2's great Windows 3.1 (and Win 32s) support was one of the reasons it died.

    My experience with it (in versions 2.1 and 3.0) was that it was SHIT. Running simple applications, in some cases even those which came with Windows, would make it crash and the whole thing would blow up at once and take out all of your windows apps.

    OS/2 died because it was too expensive, because it had too-high system requirements, and because it had an interface that is horribly unintuitive if you are used to mac and/or windows. It had nothing to do with being able (or realistically not being able) to run Windows programs on it.

  • by rentmej (775047) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `jemtner'> on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:18PM (#19650881) Homepage

    One interesting item of note is that at many sites with Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreements, such as our own, Windows XP Pro and Windows Vista Enterprise are available essentially for free (just the cost of the media) for all departmentally-owned computers - including usage in virtualization, and including usage on Intel-based Macs.

    This is one of the biggest misnomers in University IT systems, IT'S NOT FREE

    University systems pay a blanket fee to install as many copies as they want, but IT'S NOT FREE

    We get a great discount so that all of the people who come out of college use Microsoft products and have no idea on how to use anything else.

    You are part of DOIT [wisc.edu], please stop telling people this! You should know better!

  • by mike260 (224212) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:23PM (#19650937)
    A major cause of instability on Windows is flaky drivers, maybe this is your friends problem.

    Presumably, Parallels has properly debugged the drivers for their VM's virtual hardware.
  • by Gilmoure (18428) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:56PM (#19651519) Journal
    Same here. Our licensing deal with MS allows for upgrades and installs on systems that shipped with Windows originally. This leaves out Macs and any boxes that shipped with Linux installed. If they want to install Windows on these machines, they have to shell out for a new license.

    Even with the new license and Parallels fees (around $180 a machine), and higher costs of Macs, we're having an upsurge in Mac purchases. Other cool thing about Parallels is that it allows any X-86 OS, except OS X, to run with out an OS window visible. Saw a demo with OS X, Win XP and Linux/Debian running. Very cool.

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