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Virtualization and Microsoft


© October 2006 Anthony Lawrence

2006/10/20

Microsoft has made some interesting moves in the virtualization area recently. On the plus side, the Data Center Edition of Windows Server 2003 now gives you unlimited virtualization rights. From https://www.microsoft.com:

Starting October 1, 2006, new servers licensed with Windows Server Datacenter Edition (and previous licenses with new version rights) will have license rights to run an unlimited number of virtualized Windows Server instances. By simply licensing the server's processors with Windows Server Datacenter Edition, customers will be able to run Windows Server Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, Datacenter Edition or a mix of the three editions without having to track the number of virtual machines or pay for additional Windows Server licenses.

Pretty cool, right? Do keep in mind that the Data Center licensing starts at $2,999 without CALS, so they aren't exactly giving away the farm (Windows Server 2003 R2 Pricing). But it's still quite a deal if you have the need.

Continuing its largess, Microsoft opened up its Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Image Format specification and had earlier announced that Virtual PC and Virtual Server will also be free - well, almost - free for Windows users, but not for Mac.

So it's all wine and roses, isn't it? Microsoft loves us, we love Microsoft.. oops, what's this? Hmmm.. apparently Microsoft has some different ideas about weblog.infoworld.com/virtualization/archives/2006/10/the_truth_about.html (link dead, sorry) virtualization and Vista. The basic, home user versions aren't to be used in VM's, they say.

Microsoft's rationalization is interesting:

Microsoft believes that enthusiasts, businesses and enterprises with IT staff better understand the challenges and risks associated with virtualization, and so they are making virtualization an option for the versions that match those audiences. To that end, the spokesperson continued, "The primary client virtualization scenario with Windows Vista is application compatibility in the enterprise. With Windows Vista Enterprise edition customers receive the ability to install 4 copies of the operating system in virtual machines for a single user on a single device, making Windows Vista Enterprise ideally suited for virtualization scenarios."

Huh? So this is about protecting home users from risk? Pardon us while we laugh up our sleeve, Microsoft: it's about money, and nothing else. The higher priced versions of Vista will be legal to use in VM's, the cheap editions will not be. It's just about money.

You can find the gory licensing details for any Microsoft product at https://www.microsoft.com/about/legal/useterms/default.aspx, by the way. Makes great bedtime reading. Windows licensing disserves the user offers some translation help for the legalese challenged.

One company that seemingly doesn't give a hoot about Microsoft VM licensing is Sun. Their VM serves up Linux and Sun OSes, but isn't www.tgdaily.com/2006/10/18/sun_virtualization/ (link dead, sorry) going to try to support Windows: "Windows and Sparc just does not make much sense", they said. They could have left off the second two words of that sentence, I think.


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