Microsoft considered banning virtualizing all versions of Vista

Microsoft considered banning virtualizing all versions of Vista

Summary: Over on the Seattle PI website is an interesting article which looks at why Mac users won't be able to get their hands on Vista unless they buy the more expensive versions of Vista. But buried in that article is an interesting bombshell - Microsoft considered banning virtualizing all versions of Vista.

TOPICS: Windows

Over on the Seattle PI website is an interesting article which looks at why Mac users won't be able to get their hands on Vista unless they buy the more expensive versions of Vista.  But buried in that article is an interesting bombshell.

Contained in the article is Microsoft's justification for banning the least expensive versions of Vista (Home Basic which retails for $199 and Home Premium which goes for $239) from being virtualized.

Lately Intel and rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. have built virtualization-friendly hooks directly into microprocessors. The goal was to make virtualization work better, but Woodgate [Scott Woodgate, a director in Microsoft's Vista team] argues that the move created a security flaw -- essentially that malicious programs can run undetected alongside an operating system.

Woodgate said Microsoft considered banning virtualizing all versions of Vista entirely. But ultimately, he said, his team decided that the most technically savvy users, or people in companies with tech support, probably could handle Vista in virtualization programs, while home users should be steered away. [emphasis added]

Eh?  Am I reading that right?  Microsoft believes that there's a security risk in virtualization and doesn't want Joe Public to use it, but in the end decided that if you bought the more expensive versions of Vista that the risk was acceptable.  Also, Microsoft doesn't want home users to use virtualization because of the risks but it's just fine for power users and corporate users to be exposed to this undefined risk.

Give me a break.  That's the worst justification for prohibiting the virtualization of Home Basic and Home Premium that I've read so far, especially given that Microsoft released Virtual PC 2007 for free and with no "health warnings" for potential users. 

Also, why would tech-savvy users not want to make use of the cheaper versions of Vista for virtualization?  If Microsoft wanted to prevent home users from Virtualizing Vista would it not have made more sense then to prohibit the lower versions of Vista from hosting virtual machines (at least Windows-based virtual machines)?

Sorry Microsoft, I just don't buy the argument.  It sounds like a scam to me.  Either there's a credible security risk or there isn't.  Half measures and EULA limitations sound like nothing more than FUD.  I don't see how paying Microsoft more for the OS makes anyone safer.  Microsoft has been working hard to justify that users should buy Windows Ultimate and Windows Business and this virtualization limitation sound like nothing more than that.


Topic: Windows

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  • I see no problems here

    The only home users who want to use virtualization are OSX users running Parallels. I'd love to see even one of the Mac zealots complain about MS adding artificial and onerous conditions under which their OS is allowed to run. :)

    Besides, Apple users are used to paying 3 times more than everyone else. I don't see why MS shouldn't gouge them for every penny that Jobs hasn't managed to gouge them out of first.
    • What now Microsoft Shill . Go check out the other story and respond .

      "The only home users who want to use virtualization are OSX users running Parallels. I'd love to see even one of the Mac zealots complain about MS adding artificial and onerous conditions under which their OS is allowed to run"

      I for one wouldn't buy that C.R.A.P. , let alone run it on my machine . If anything I believe it's a good thing . Mac users shouldn't be buying anything from Microsoft . Their products are C.R.A.P. As for paying three times as much , you're crazy , it's time to stop living in the yester years Microsoft Zealot . Microsoft products are C.R.A.P. . If you haven't noticed the stock market lately , Microsoft has been taking the tumble , not APPLE .
      • NonZealot is just a Mike Cox wanna-be...

        Main difference is, Mike is funny...
    • Zealot, read this....

      then look in a mirror.
    • Did an Apple exec shoot your dog or something?

      You are generally articulate, have many insights into topics, but, no matter what the discussion, on anything, you find a way to slam Apple. The article can be about "How to find images on Google" and out of the blue "Mac Zealots should learn how to find images in their overpriced operating system first".

      No, many people run virtualization of Windows on Windows so they can test programs against all version, run in a true root jail, run 5 different VPN clients on one machine (CTAC at my work) since all most VPN clients can only exist in isolation on a single machine. You do know that virtualization is undergoing massive growth, and if it was only to satisfy the 3-4% apple market, none of it would be happening.

      • You missed one important part

        [i]if it was only to satisfy the 3-4% apple market, none of it would be happening.[/i]

        You missed where I said:
        [i]The only [b]home[/b] users who want to use virtualization [/i]

        Of course virtualization is big which makes it even funnier that the Mac zealots think OSX, the [b]only[/b] OS that can't be virtualized, can compete at all with Linux or Windows. Your examples only prove my point that virtualization is big at work, not at home. There is only 1 segment of the market that has a big interest in virtualization at home and has the infrastructure to support that interest: Mac zealots. Just look at the success of Parallels for proof of that.

        As for your concern with my dog, thanks but I don't own a dog. However, even if Jobs personally shot my dog, how does that change any of the facts that I present? It doesn't.
        • Facts?

          You have yet to present a single fact. You have presented opinion, much of it ill-informed, and ill-reasoned.
  • Microoft

    F*&^ Microsft and the horse they rode in on. First they give us an expensive OS that doesn't have very many programs or hardware that it works with. Then, even though WE pay for the damn software, we can't use virtualization? *sigh* Personally I'm tired of paying out the wazoo for something and then the company tells me how I can use it. If we want to use virtualization, then let us. Come on Microsft. Do you think a basic home user would even know how to use virtualization? Have some common sense.
    • This must be Alicia Anne Hattem above .

      Another clueless Microsoft user .
  • The New Computer

    Microsoft doesn't want to betray it's pedigree and move too quickly towards a
    closed albeit broad system. It's clear what's going on when one looks at the full
    arc of this issue.

    Connectix, the maker of Virtual PC was in business to provide PC emulation to
    Mac users on the PPC platform. Microsoft bought Connectix and took the Windows
    emulation product "Virtual PC" off the market for a period. Apple transitions to
    Intel, and Boot Camp and Parallels is released. The Virtual PC product which had
    reemerged was bested by the two new options. Vista's new license subsequently
    limits virtualization to the costly version of Windows. Why?

    When people virtualized Windows for protection from instability, it was in MS's
    interest. Now virtualization is being used differently?

    Microsoft understands that Windows running on a Mac is not a tool to access the
    Mac hardware. It's a springboard to OSX. Impediments had to be put in place.
    Those impediments can't intrude on the perception of Windows as champion of
    personal freedoms however. It's a fine line.

    With WGA, embedded DRM, and new terms for virtualization, the PC moves closer
    to the Mac's closed model. But the Mac doesn't allow virtualization of OSX at all?
    How is that any better? I'm not sure this is the Mac users cross to carry. We've not
    been those charged with carrying the banner of freedom and choice. One doesn't
    hear a lot of complaining from our side of the fence though. It may be possible
    that we are comfortable in our yoke. Alternatively, we may lack the problems that
    virtualization presumes to solve.
    Harry Bardal
  • Agreed.. The only security issue is their desire for continued control, ...

    Influence & continuing revenue streams.

    I had imagined their purchase of VPC, was to provide legacy compatibility.
    A step in the right direction as if they actually might improve their system.

    I would bet it may not be that difficult to get Intel's VT working on a Mac, because of EFI, using Xen or other hardware aware VT. Even Running OSX (and whatever Windows, 2k, XP, Vista ) as guest. all concurrently.
    (Doubt but a few of those who have Mac's would have the need or desire)

    On BIOS system many major OEMs have not yet upgraded the BIOS to take advantage of this, (except on servers & workstations) smaller more pro systems have.

    BTW......What do think of those systems offer by System76... I think some models are from the same ODMs as some MacBooks & Thinkpads

    Somewhat OT but......
    Also do you have any comment on these links
    or that interview with the CEO of Pioneer Linux

    I was hoping to get some comments or response.

    I personally feel you & ZDnet Spend/Waste too much time on MS, and miss or choose ignore what is Really going on in the field (in the market & outside)

    This is a tech site? If not equality, at least a little more parity......
    and thought you might start to bring it?........
  • Known Security Issue

    The security issue mentioned is real. Previous rootkits could be detected by tools running on the operating system. A new hypervisor based rootkit would be completely hidden from the operating systems running on it. I'm not sure how MS saying the Home versions are not licenced for vitualization would actually alleviate any threat though. Don't most virtualization technologies make the OS believe that it is not running virtualized? How does Vista know the platform it is running on is virtual if the whole point of virtualization is to make it look like a normal environment?
    • Yes, I know ... but ...

      ... Some clause in the Vista EULA won't protect you!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Quite frankly,

        I don't understand the legality of banning virtualization. There's something I find disquieting about a software company telling me how I can use their product.
        • Transmeta, anyone?

          I haven't read the actual EULA for any version of Vista, but what about a PC based on the Transmeta Crusoe CPU? It emulates an x86 architecture. For that matter every Intel CPU since the PentiumPro could be considered to emulate an x86 instruction set, as well as the AMD K7.

          I'd like to see a well thought out discussion comparing CPU-level virtualization via microcode (firmware/software instructions) versus software virtualization of hardware (software brought into the cpu to do it). Heck, I guess when you're running VMWare, you've got two levels of virtualization. Throw Java on top of that and you've got a third!

          Now I realize that modern CPU's emulate only the x86 and not the entire PC environment. But I'd hate to see a case based on this get before a jury.
  • My hunches

    I suspect that they made it the most expensive version for two reason.

    1) The MPAA and RIAA know that the Home versions run virtually mean DRM is protected to the edge of the VM, and easily copied by the host OS. Now, it is easy to get the content other ways, but it was likely a strong desire of the content providers

    2) They are trying to cash in on the virtualization growth. With many businesses going virtual, why not ride the wave and make sure that you maximize the revenue stream.