No, there's no ban on virtual Vista

No, there's no ban on virtual Vista

Summary: Some analysts who've looked at Microsoft's new Vista license think it bans the use of certain Vista versions in any virtual machine. They're wrong. In fact, the new Vista license doesn't take away any virtual rights and gives some Windows users rights they've never had before.

TOPICS: Windows

Update 18-Oct: Microsoft has issued yet another "clarification." They say you really can't legally run Vista home versions in a VM. I say their agreement is incomprehensible and their policy is stupid and short-sighted. Details here.

There's a lot of confusion going around about the new Windows Vista licenses. I wrote about the two-machine limit earlier this week. Now I see Gregg Keizer at TechWeb and Robert McLaws of Windows Now arguing that the new license bans the use of Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium in virtual machines.

I believe their interpretation is wrong. In fact, I think Microsoft deserves credit for this change, which actually gives purchasers of Vista Ultimate a benefit they wouldn't have under any previous Windows license.

The Vista license marks the first time Microsoft has explicitly addressed the issue of virtual hardware in a consumer-oriented product, I believe. The current license for Windows XP makes no distinction between physical and virtual hardware. It says, "You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Product on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device ("Workstation Computer")."

Under the current XP license, a virtual machine is a separate computer and needs a separate license, with a separate product key and product activation. The new terms in the license for Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium continue that policy and make it crystal clear:

You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system. [emphasis added]

The qualifier is crucial. Does the clause quoted above say you can't run any copy of Vista Home Basic or Home Premium in a VM? No. It says you cannot reuse the copy installed on your physical computer within a virtual machine on the same computer. That's no different from the way XP works today. If you want to run a second copy of your Windows operating system in a VM, you need a separate license.

But Vista Ultimate is different. Under the Additional Terms section for that OS, the license reads:

You may use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed device.

In other words, if you are running a licensed copy of Vista Ultimate, you can load another copy of that same OS, using the same product key, in a virtual machine on that same computer (the "licensed device"). This license gives Vista Ultimate users a right they wouldn't have with any previous version of Windows. (The Vista Enterprise license will reportedly be even more generous, giving users the right to run up to four virtual copies on the licensed machine. There's no indication of what virtualization rights will be included with Vista Business.)

In this case, at least, Microsoft deserves congratulations, not criticism, for addressing the issue of virtualization in a way that makes sense for its most tech-savvy customers.

Topic: Windows

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  • Message has been deleted.

  • Saving an ISO file

    I read you won't be allowed to save and ISO file to your HDD in some of the Vista configurations. Can you elaborate on that? Will a user actually be denied access to the HDD if a file has a .iso extension?

    none none
    • No, that is wrong

      As some people have pointed out in other forums, this only applies to an ISO of the [b]Vista CD itself[/b]. It won't block any other ISO. I don't know what the criteria will be in determining what is a Vista ISO and what is not, but if you carefully read the EULA then that is what it says.
      • I can't find this in the license anywhere

        I read this on Windows Now as well but can't figure out what Robert is referring to.
        Ed Bott
  • Credit To Microsoft

    This IS an improvement for Microsoft.

    The result has served to elevate what has been a series of
    negative issues to mitigate what has been a net loss. But once
    again, Microsoft has been compared exclusively to Microsoft.

    When Vista becomes available, running multiple copies of
    Windows to avoid corruptions and bit rot will likely be seen as an
    advantage as it has in the past. The cloning of the same OS
    across multiple machines will pass for diversity as it has in the
    past. Most importantly, the role of watchdog will not be
    hampered by onerous costs.

    A 5 seat license is available now for OSX Tiger. The cost is $199.
    How does the Windows 4 cloned VM's stack up? What's the cost
    of an Enterprise license?

    These questions are not asked because they are (conveniently)
    not on the agenda. The aganda, it would seem, is inviolate.
    Conclusions within the purvue of a hoplessly flawed agenda are
    not in question. The agenda itself is.

    Just trying to keep everybody honest.
    Harry Bardal
    • Changing the subject again

      Harry, I've written about the costs of Windows licensing before. You can read the post for yourself <a href="">here</a>, as can anyone else. I even discuss the Apple Family Pack licenses. The cost of an Enterprise license varies currently according to your corporate contract; general pricing for volume licenses is not yet available.

      <p>I know you'll find this shocking, but I don't write 5,000 words in every post. I usually try to pick a single topic and stick to it.

      <p>And just to stay on topic, Harry, can you tell me, if I buy one of those Apple Family Packs, how many of those licenses can I use in a virtual machine? Oh, wait. I forgot. Apple doesn't allow OS X to be installed in a VM, does it?

      <p>If you want to keep everyone honest, it helps to start with yourself.
      Ed Bott
      • Not Really For Your Consumption


        You're probably realized by now, that just as easilly as you can
        declare your blogs "not for my consumtion", I can declare my
        posts "not for your consumption". We can arrive an another
        mutually agreeable stalemate. Just as your blogs are for
        discerning Windows users, my posts are for discerning readers
        that are more open to having viable alternatives presented to
        them. They are meant to act as an antidote to what I consider
        biased and myopic coverage. If I've changed the subject, then
        you've declared it your to subject to administer. Like I say, this is
        about one sided agendas. As I see it the subject is the problem. I
        leave it to readers to decide whether they are being served in the
        larger sense.

        $299 is the cost of XP Pro, which is comparable to OSX Tiger in
        availability if not features. Tiger comes in at $129. Tiger's family
        pack license at $299 is arguably a better deal than what
        Microsoft is offering now or with Vista. Does it really matter if
        the functionality is returned virtually or not? Wouldn't you rather
        have a separate license than a limited "permission to clone"
        What we are referring to here is the cost per copy/functionality
        and it does seem to swing strongly in Apple's favor, certainly for
        small busineses and homes. With most of capital in North
        America being generated by smaller businesses, I see this as an

        As someone who has declared himself sensitive to price, I would
        have thought this info to be helpful, so sorry if it's inclusion on
        these open boards, and the "change of subject" is in some way
        Harry Bardal
        • Whoops

          Ooops, that price for Apple's 5 seat family pack is $199 not $299.
          Well that makes it even better doen't it!
          Harry Bardal
          • You are so full of Sh*te

            The point is that Ed wrote an article on a particular topic. People who are interested in this topic then come here to read and discuss the topic.

            Discussions of other unrelated topics in the talkback are as unwelcome as discussions of the dinning habits of the common dung beatle larva.
        • Tell you what...

          I'm a discerning reader. Guess what? Shut up!!! I don't give a crap about Apple here, I read this blog because I'm curious what Ed has to say about Microsoft, not Apple. What's more, everything you've posted on here has had some major malfunction when it comes to facts. When I want to read about Apple I'll go MDN.
        • Harry Harry Harry. You miss the point my man.

          You are quite literally comparing ?Apples? to Oranges. And while Apple makes a very nice computer and a mighty fine OS you have got to want it awful bad to lay out the cash in order to justify to yourself that Apples over bloated prices are worth the cost. And there is little doubt Apples costs are bloated, as I will explain in detail shortly. The problem is, the vast majority of the world could care less about the minor details and specifics of licensing systems when Apple is charging top dollar for hardware, which means your already getting soaked by Apple just to get into their game.

          Recently a friend who was looking to set up a new computer system where he wanted a one system ?does all? told me he was strongly considering Apples latest 24? iMac system.

          I agreed that the 24? monitor was a marvel even at $2,249.00 for the system in question and if you can?t settle for less then an Apple it was not a terrible buy. But I did point out to him that if he was ready to settle for a 20? monitor he could blow the Apple system away for less money. A lot less money. Here are the stats on the 24? iMac system;

          24-inch widescreen LCD
          1920x1200 resolution
          2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
          4MB shared L2 cache
          1GB memory (2x512MB SO-DIMM)
          250GB Serial ATA hard drive
          8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD+R DL, DVD?RW, CD-RW)
          NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT with 128MB GDDR3 memory
          Built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0
          Apple Remote

          I assured my friend that the system was really premium priced and showed him how he could set himself up with a Windows based system that was vastly superior for less cash. I priced out a significantly better system from a local major custom builder chain store I have used frequently in the past and came up with the following set up;

          -Cooler Master Centurion 5 Blue Tower PC Case w/ 380 Watt Power Supply $83.95
          -Asus P5B-E Socket 775 Intel 965 Express + ICH8R Chipset Dual-Channel DDR2 533/667/800 Gigabit Lan Intel High Definition Audio Firewire e-SATA PCI-Express Graphics Slots 6xSATAII $179.99
          -Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13 GHz (1066MHz) 2MB L2 Cache $289.99
          -Asus EN7300GT SILENT/HTD/256M nVidia GeForce 7300GT Chipset 256MB SLI Ready PCI-Express $113.00
          -Corsair DDR2 PC2-5400 667MHz Value Select 1GB 240-pin Unbuffered DIMM $149.99
          -Maxtor DiamondMax Plus10 320GB SATA II 7200RPM 16MB Buffer $113.00
          -Samsung SH-S182D/BEBN Super-WriteMaster DVDRW 18X/18X $40.99
          -Linksys WMP54GX400 Wireless-G PCI Adapter with SRX 400 $99.99
          -Samsung SyncMaster 205BW Black Flat panel display TFT 20" 1680 x 1050 / 60 Hz 300 cd/m2 600:1 6 ms 0.258 mm DVI, VGA $339.99
          -Logitech (970118) Z-2300 2.1 Speaker System - 200W RMS - THX-certified $119.99
          -Microsoft Windows XP Professional $159.00
          -Assembly and OS installation $15.00
          -Equals $1704.88

          While there are several things that nice about this system the real bonus standout for the friend in question was the Logitec Speaker system. As a 2.1 system it?s absolutely dynamite at the price and it?s loud enough to use at a small party. Read the Cnet review. Outstanding speaker system at the price.

          Interestingly enough my buddy was ready to go a little more cash. As he really could care less about wireless capacity (for his purposes) he dumped the wireless card and he loved the Windows media Center demo, and as it was a little cheaper then the XP pro it was an easy sell for him. He did step up on the processor and the video card and the case/power supply, as well as the memory upgrade (killer choice for the bucks) He had originally thought he was going to get soaked for $2249.00 so when he seen the savings he actually went a little better over all from my original suggestion to the following setup;

          -Thermaltake Soprano VB1000SWS Mid-Tower (Silver-White) w/ See-Through Side Panel $96.99
          -Antec SmartPower 2.0 400 Watt ATX12V v2.0 PSU $64.99
          -Asus P5B-E Socket 775 Intel 965 Express + ICH8R Chipset
          Dual-Channel DDR2 533/667/800 Gigabit Lan Intel High Definition
          Audio Firewire e-SATA PCI-Express Graphics Slots 6xSATAII $179.99
          -Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4 GHz (1066MHz) 4MB L2 CacheSocket 775 Processor $399.99
          -Asus EN7600GT Silent/2DHT/256M nVidia GeForce 7600GT(560MHz) 256MB GDDR3(1.4GHz) 128-Bit DVI-I HDTV-Out Passive Cooling Heatsink SilentCool 2 PCI Express Graphics Card $239.99
          -OCZ Dual Channel Special Ops XTC 1024MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory (2 x 512MB) $205.99
          -Maxtor DiamondMax Plus10 320GB SATA II 7200RPM 16MB Buffer $113.00
          -Samsung SH-S182D/BEBN Super-WriteMaster DVDRW 18X/18X $40.99
          -Sapphire Theatrix Theatre 550 Pro PC TV-Tuner w/ Remote $89.99
          -Samsung SyncMaster 205BW Black Flat panel display
          TFT 20" 1680 x 1050 / 60 Hz 300 cd/m2 600:1 6 ms 0.258 mm DVI, VGA $339.99
          -Logitech (970118) Z-2300 2.1 Speaker System - 200W RMS - THX-certified $119.99
          -Microsoft Windows XP Media Center 2005 $129.00
          -Assembly and OS installation $15.00
          Equals $2036.89

          On every single level other then monitor size this system totally annihilates the 24? iMac at a price of $212 dollars less then the iMac. This means in order to justify the cost of the 24? iMac monitor you have to ditch all the superior hardware and cough up the additional $212. In fact the original setup I had suggested annihilates the 20? iMac for about $5.00 more then the iMac. And once again, if you do not need the wireless system for your desktop you can pitch out the $99 wireless system and if you can live with Windows Media you can cut another $30, or even better XP home cut it back to $99 for your operating system and save $60 off the original system. Without the wireless, and with XP home that?s a $160 savings and now you get an ?iMac 20? System Annihilator? for $155.00 less then the 20? iMac.

          Vastly superior sound, a great built in remote controlled video capture card, a high performance 320GB HD, fast great quality ram, a 256mb video card, and it kicks the crap out of a similar Apple system and cost less. So, while all the licensing stuff will matter to some, the bottom line for most is; why am I paying all that case for inferior equipment?
          • Macs are NOT more expensive...

            then a similarily configured PC. Even the major PC mags state
            that. See here for more info -

            The reality here is that is you compare the prices of similarily
            configured PCs of major manufacturers like Dell, Sony, HP, and
            Gateway to Apple's Mac, the prices are within $10-$20.

            However if you want a Do-It-Yourself project, yes, you can build
            a less expensive PC. Of course it'll have no warranty or support
            (when it breaks you'll have to fix it, yourself), no true resale
            value, and the cost doesn't accurately reflect the cost of the time
            it took you to acquire the knowlege of the system and its
            components, gathering all those components, assembling the
            components into a case, and configuring all those disparate
            components into a working, secure PC.
          • But they are less not-as-expensive!

            >>I priced out a significantly better system from a local major custom builder chain store <<

            In what way does that suggest "a Do-It-Yourself project" ?

            Maybe you should actually read (and comprehend) posts before you respond to them. And try to stay on topic, as well.
          • I guess you didnt read. APPLE IS MORE EXPENSIVE.

            The components for the custom built were superior components; the store assembles and configures the chosen components for $15. A thorough testing of the system is done before release to the customer. No labor or time involved on the purchasers behalf. And because this is a large and well respected chain store they also supply a one year parts and labor warranty. Of course I included the price of a Windows OS so there is whatever standard Microsoft support is supplied to any purchaser of a Microsoft OS. All this is on the website I provided a link to, I?m not making it up.

            It doesn?t matter who says what, other then what Apple says they will sell me a system for compared to the best deal I can get. APPLE IS MORE EXPENSIVE.
  • And this is of no importance to the typical user...

    More important is the draconian restriction on how many times you can upgrade your computer before having to buy another license.
    • There is no restriction on how many times ...

      ... you upgrade your system. The restriction is on how many times you can change systems and use the same OS.
  • sorry

    Hi Ed,

    I read your comment on my blog; I regret the error. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    • No problem, Josh

      Did you delete the original post? I can't find it anymore...
      Ed Bott
      • no, it's just updated

        no, it's still there, but it's updated. it may have been down for a few minutes while i updated it.
  • I think NOT !

    As in I won't be using Vista in this lifetime or the next.