Apple tax, Microsoft tax - The virtualization tax

Apple tax, Microsoft tax - The virtualization tax

Summary: Why can't you run Mac OS on a Windows PC from within a VMware or Parallels virtual PC? Why does the Windows Vista EULA only allow the virtualization of Vista Ultimate and Business? It's all to do with both companies wanting to control virtualization in order to protect profits.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Why can't you run Mac OS on a Windows PC from within a VMware or Parallels virtual PC?  Why does the Windows Vista EULA only allow the virtualization of Vista Ultimate and Business?  It's all to do with both companies wanting to control virtualization in order to protect profits.

More controls, more restrictions, more limitations, more DRM Let's begin by looking at Mac OS X.  Both VMware and Parallels have expressed a keen interest in bringing a virtual PC to the Windows platform that could run Mac OS X but neither company is willing to come up with the goods without the OK from Apple, and an OK from Apple is a LONG way off.  Apple sees a commercial sense in being able to run Windows and Linux on Apple hardware but sees no reason to jeopardize hardware sales   Apple is, after all, a company that makes most of their money from products, not hardware or software.  Also, VMware and Parallels know, as does everyone else who keeps an eye on Apple, that Jobs and Co are very quick to turn to lawyers.  Neither company want to attract that kind of attention, especially Parallels which currently enjoys being on Apple's "nice" rather than "naughty" list. 

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Now what about Microsoft's attitude to virtualizing Vista?  Well, here the devil is in the EULA.  To cut a long story short, Microsoft doesn't want the cheaper versions of Vista (Home Basic and Home Premium) installed into a virtual environment.  If you want to do that Microsoft wants you to give them a little more cash and buy Ultimate or Business.  Oh, and before you ask, there's no technical obstacle to installing Home Basic or Home Premium into a VMware of Virtual PC environment.  The limitation exists only in the EULA.  If you really want to experiment with Vista in a virtual environment you can either take advantage of the generous 120-day grace period before having to activate it and just demo it or cough up for a Technet Plus Direct subscription and get access to ISO downloads and product keys that allow you to have 10 installations.

Now, Microsoft's limitation that restricts you to running only Vista Ultimate or Business in a virtual PC is annoying, but at least you can do it, you just have to throw some cash at the problem (or you can ignore the EULA ... at your risk).  But Apple's limitation on virtualization is a serious limitation platform weakness.  Even being able to run Mac OS X guests within an OS X host would be a very useful feature indeed, but Apple doesn't seem to think that users want this.  Being able to run Mac OS X on a Windows PC (or non-Mac hardware) would be really useful too but the reason why Apple doesn't want this to happen is pretty clear - it would kill their hardware sales.  If you want to run Mac OS, Apple wants you to buy the hardware to go with it.  With them you're not buying  hardware or software, you're buying an Apple product.

But this isn't to say that you can't run Mac OS X from within VMware.  In fact, if you fire up your favorite browser and visit a search engine and look for "VMware OSX image" you'll find that it's already possible.  You have to download these files from dodgy sites, rely on an image that's been patched (maybe even patched in a bad way) and walk on the dark side of the law, but it's certainly not impossible - these images will run happily in the free player that VMware offers.  What you're not going to see is a quick, simple and supported way to virtualize Mac OS.  Rumors have it that Apple would have been willing to allow VMware to virtualize Mac OS X as long as this feature was not present on Windows and Linux versions of VMware products.

If you want to emulate a Mac, rather than virtualize the platform, then there are a number of open source projects that allow you to do this, as long as you're willing to go through varying degrees of hassle.

Virtualization has huge upsides for both home and business users, but both Apple and Microsoft want to have control over what users can or can't do with the platforms.  More controls, more restrictions, more limitations, more DRM. 

Topic: Apple

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8 comments
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  • OSX is the only crippled modern OS

    OSX is the [b]only[/b] modern consumer OS that can't be virtualized. Decades old Linux, Windows, and DOS OSs can all be virtualized today. In a sense, the DOS I ran in 1983 is more capable than OSX is today! So why hasn't there been an outrcy? Because Steve Jobs has dictated that virtualization is not necessary and Mac zealots regard all of Jobs statements as dogma. It sure makes me glad that my company hasn't standardized on OSX! We use virtualization all the time and if we had standardized on OSX, it would seriously impact our bottom line in a very negative way.
    NonZealot
    • Maybe there has been

      Just so few use the Mac OS that nobody listens.
      voska
  • Do you Still have the MacBook Pro?...... I had asked this Question before

    a couple times in the previous series about the MacBook. But no answer.

    Can it use/utilize Intel's VT (Virtual Technology)?

    Windows & Windows only apps are of little interest or import to me, but having that option available does make it of even more use and value.

    OSX has much value & benefit on its own and I understand I can still use Linux apps concurrently via Xwindows & Fink.

    But it would be of much more value to me to run a Linux Xen or KVM core/host and then other Linux's, OSX & even Windows in virtualization.

    I can understand why Apple would not want Virtualization on hardware not its own, but wonder about VT on its own Hardware?

    I would Prefer the pro's except for the expense.
    Prefer the Intel video chipset for it's OSS drivers.
    Prefer the Matte to the Glossy screens.

    Still either way they have great value
    Mac's are high on my List for a new notebook.
    This ability would make it even more worthwhile... for me at least.
    LazLong
    • Look at Parallels

      Going through parallels.com will provide you with the list
      of Guest OSs that can be used on the Mac. Might help in
      your decision on the Mac.
      Ken_z
  • OS X will stay Mac only

    Since Apple announced the move to Intel processors that
    has been a continual cry for OS X to be made available
    for PCs.

    It;s just not going to happen. Apple is in the business of
    selling PCs and invests a huge amount into R&D to keep
    OS X developing - simply because OS X is what sells
    Macs. They OS & computer go hand in hand and Apple
    isn't going to change that.

    In addition to being the driving factor for computer sales
    the Apple approach also provides the company with
    greatly simplified customer support requirements - far
    different than in the PC world. This means that when
    you call customer support with a problem you have
    Apple employees who can address the problem, be it
    hardware or software - a feature i really appreciate after
    going through some misery with horrid support from a
    major PC company.
    Ken_z
  • Contentious Issue

    This probably the single most contentious issue I have with Apple.
    I'd give Apple a serious 'look see' if Apple allowed OEM versions.

    My business what hardware I own, what software I run.

    Apple wants you to own their hardware and only run OS X on their hardware.

    And of course, because Apple is vigorously defending their current licensing scheme, Parallels and VMware won't sponsor running OS X (even if they have the capability to do so).

    I see this as being restrictive and limiting choice.

    Ultimately, you may see OS X OEM'd and it might not be Steve Jobs' decision either.
    D T Schmitz
  • Apples to Oranges

    My problem with Apple from the beginning is that they refuse to make their product a commodity item. They actively prevent users from being able to modularize the components of their platform. To me, this is anti-competitive behavior, which stems from the fact that thay don't want there to exist a fair comparison between platforms.

    If you could easily swap components in a modular way, then you could compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges. Apple would prefer you try to compare apples to oranges, and hopes you decide that M apples are clearly better than N oranges, regardless of the ratio of M/N. In that way, they can avoid competing on a price basis by simply claiming that apples are better, without quantifying how much.

    Well I'm sorry, but I have never and will never buy anything of theirs until they allow consumers the ability to make a fair comparison between their products and other products on the market. If they are afraid that they cannot compete based on price in a fair marketplace, then perhaps it's because they know they would be unable to justify the high price tags.
    sethhoyt@...
    • Excellent post!

      I agree 100%.
      NonZealot