Microsoft and Apple agree: Blanket virtualization is a no-no

Microsoft and Apple agree: Blanket virtualization is a no-no

Summary: There was considerable outcry earlier this week over a blog entry that highlighted Microsoft's restrictions on virtualization of Windows Vista by Parallels users running Mac OS X. So far, however, there's been little publicity of the fact that Apple isn't any too keen on seeing Mac OS X virtualized indiscriminantly, either.

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TOPICS: Windows
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There was considerable outcry earlier this week over a blog entry that highlighted Microsoft's restrictions on virtualization of Windows Vista by Parallels users running Mac OS X.

So far, however, there's been little publicity of the fact that Apple isn't any too keen on seeing Mac OS X virtualized indiscriminately, either.

Here's the back story: Parallels Desktop for Mac product allows users to run Windows and Mac OS X side-by-side on Intel-based Apple machines. But due to Microsoft licensing restrictions, Parallels users are allowed to run only certain versions of Windows Vista -- namely Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise (available to Microsoft volume licensees only)  and Windows Vista Ultimate -- in a virtualized environment. In order to run Windows Home Basic or Vista Home Premium using Parallels, users must buy additional licenses of those products in order not to violate their end-user license agreements (EULAs), Microsoft officials said.

(The same licensing restriction doesn't seem to apply to Bootcamp, Apple's forthcoming Mac OS X add-on that will allow users to run Windows XP on Mac OS X systems because Bootcamp doesn't rely on virtualization technology. I attempted to triple-check that fact with Apple this week, but never heard back from a company representative.)

Microsoft Windows officials noted that the virtualization licensing restrictions are not new to Vista; they also apply to Windows XP. Here's the official company statement supplied by a spokeswoman:

"For production machines and everyday usage, virtualization is a fairly new technology, and one that we think is not yet mature enough from a security perspective for broad consumer adoption. Today, customers using virtualization technology with Windows are primarily business customers addressing application compatibility needs or technology enthusiasts.

"For that reason, Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Home Premium cannot be installed in any virtual machine technology, but Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate can. This is regardless of the virtualization stack, applying equally to use with Microsoft's virtualization technology, Virtual PC, and third-party virtualization technology.

"Each virtual installation of Windows requires a new license just as it did for Windows XP except for Windows Vista Enterprise Edition which includes four installations in a virtual machine as part of a single license."

Parallels executives have been quoted by various outlets as being angered by Microsoft's policy to allow only the pricier versions of Vista to be used with Parallels without an additional license. But the Parallels brass don't seem overly upset by similar licensing restrictions allegedly imposed by Apple regarding the legalities of running Mac OS X in a virtualized environment on non-Apple hardware.

Parallels Marketing Manager Ben Rudolph made it plain that "due to the EULA in OS X that forbids virtualization, Parallels will not be enabling users to virtualize OS X anytime soon," according to an Ars Technica story.

"Legal issues aside, Parallels doesn't want to strain its relationship with Apple, who can be rather fickle at times about which companies are in its favor," the Ars Technica story added. 'We have a very good working relationship with Apple, and we don't want to do anything to jeopardize the great partnership that's been so valuable to both of us,' he (Rudolph) added."

Show of hands: Who wants to run Vista Ultimate in a virtual machine on a Mac? Who wants to run Mac OS X in a virtual environment on Vista?

Topic: Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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