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The Next Round in the Virtualization Wars 355

GvG writes "After making Virtual Server available for free some time ago, Microsoft announced today it is offering Virtual PC as a free (as in beer) download. They also announced a change to the Vista license related to virtualization: Customers who deploy Windows Vista Enterprise have the ability to install up to four (4) copies of the operating system in a virtual machine for a single user on a single device. Even better, nothing in the license requires that Microsoft Virtualization technologies be used - if you want to use a competing product as your Virtualization solution, you still get the four extra licenses for use with VMs."
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The Next Round in the Virtualization Wars

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  • Mac version (Score:1, Interesting)

    by brownsteve ( 673529 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @01:09AM (#15710709) Homepage
    As of right now, the Mac version [] of Virtual PC is still retail. Any thoughts if they might give out the Mac version too? My intuition says no. Although it's a big name in their isolated Mac division, Virtual PC is the entire product category on the Mac platform. They have no VMWare with which to compete in this arena.

    The irony of the whole thing is that M$ bought VPC off Connectix just so they could finish porting it to x86 and use their branding/marketing/FUD to make big bucks. Now they're giving it away, too. Sounds very much like Microsoft's category-conquest tactics: acquire, rip off, and undersell the competition.
  • So does this mean... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Boap ( 559344 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @01:16AM (#15710735)
    If I buy a five user licence for Vista I can have up to 20 virtual machines on a single system and still be legal?
  • by Bishop ( 4500 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @01:57AM (#15710848)
    The snapshot and clone features in VMware v5 beat VPC 2004. VMware v5 is a recent product VPC 2004 is not. In general VPC 2004 ran windows guests faster then VMware v4 (four). The difference was marginal. I have not tested the speed of VPC 2004 against VMware v5. VMware runs all non-windows guests faster then VPC v4. (In some cases infinitely faster as VPC had trouble with certain versions of Linux and FreeBSD.) You can run a kernel level debugger such as SoftICE under VPC. SoftICE and Vmware have/had issues. IIRC VPC has no opengl/directx guest support. I doubt that you will ever see that feature in either product. The new virtualization instructions in Intel and AMD processors may change that, but I would not count on it.

    I use VMware daily. VMware support other guest operating systems better then VPC. But the big winner is VMware's management features. The snapshot managment, cloneing and templating are wonderfull.
  • by postmortem ( 906676 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @02:17AM (#15710908) Journal
    Virtual PC 2004 has 100% CPU utilization when just one virtual machine is loaded. There's option to reduce utilization when virtual machine window is not active, and still significant portion of CPU processing power is used in that case. Now, it is obvious that such wasting of CPU time cannot be good, either from wasted CPU resources that could be used for something useful, power consumption, heat generation. It is like CPU is running an infinite blank loop whenever you turn on virtual machine.
  • by Valacosa ( 863657 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @02:28AM (#15710942)
    Or even if I want to install a copy of Win98 or Win95 or Win3.1, no longer sold.
    ...funny thing about that. I still have DOS 6.22 and Win3.1 kicking around, so I put them on a partition on my new computer (as of last fall). DOS works, but Win3.1 will crash with a general protection fault unless I run it in DosBox. I have even older copies of Windows which don't work at all!

    My point is, the old Windows interfaces (Win3.1 is not an OS) were doing some really non-standard things behind the scenes, there's no guarantee they'd work even in emulation.

    In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Microsoft VM didn't let you run anything older than Win2K, seeing as support for Win98 just ended...
  • Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @02:38AM (#15710963)
    The problem is VMWare opened the door. They released free products (player and server). It's actually their move to try and drive MS out. MS doesn't have a product that competes with their high end server products. So they are hoping they can become ubiquitous as the VM technology in the low end market, so whenever anyone thinks VM, they think VMWare and buy the high end stuff (MS will have a high end virtualization solution at some point). MS now can claim, with 100% justification, that they are eimply pricing competitive with the market. A monopoly can't use preditory practises but they aren't reuired to screw you. There's no "If you are a monopoly you have to charge more than your compeition."

    In any competition, you have to be careful what you do because it could invite reprisals. The same si true when it's a bigger player. If you decide something should be free, they have every right, regardless of position, to answer that with a similar free product.

    Now they could get in trouble if they leveraged Windows to try and force their product. IF the virtual license applied to VPC only, that could get them in trouble as they are using their OS monopoly (which I find a funny term, given the Apple and Linux competition) to help their VM division. However since the license applies to their competitiors equally, it's not anti-competitive in the slightest.
  • Re:A better question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 13, 2006 @02:40AM (#15710966)
    Well, I read the EULA (or whatever Apple called those) for 10.2, and there was nothing said there about the legality of running that OS on non-apple hardware. So I ran it on PowerPC emulator []

    Did the Apple change their EULA so you cannot do that with 10.5_x86?
  • by RShizzle ( 983535 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @02:48AM (#15710992) Homepage
    I've scanned through the number of replies regarding this and I just find a number of fanboys saying this is the triumph of Open Source over the gigantic evil corporation. The fact is, this is a smart move to promote Microsoft technology (VPC) that has had a bad reputation, but has seen steady improvement. VPC isn't so much competition for Xen as much as it for VmWare Workstation. Both VPC and VmWare allow the installation of unmodified operating systems (not so much VPC), whereas Xen requires them to be ported or "enlighted". Tack on the fact that Xen only runs on Linux, and the ported version of XP is unavailable due to copyright issues, and Xen doesn't look like a very realistic solution for the primary uses of virtualization technology, developers testing their software on a different OS, or sysadmins running virtual servers (production, or testing of Windows platforms). Yes, some people do prefer Windows Server 2003 over BSD. VPC on the other had, works well enough for testing on a variety of Windows platforms, will now be free, and is in most cases good enough. The primary reason I can think of why someone would virtualize instances of Vista is to provide RDP access to a sandboxed environment, not to use Vista as a server. VPC and this Vista deal shouldn't be seen as a competitor to Xen. If you're planning on virtualizing instances of a server, especially a Windows Server, VmWare GSX or ESX server would be the only real options. Regarding licensing issues, a virtual machine is exactly that, a virtual representation of a completely different machine. It will show up the the OS as different hardware. Have any of you tried activating an XP installation within VPC or VmWare? It still asks for a new, unique key (unless of course, its a volume license). People question the financial costs of this, that Microsoft will now forgo the revenue on four vista licenses. First of all, many estimate that Vista will retail at as low as $100. There will actually be tighter license restrictions, as there are plans to have an active licensing server for volume licenses, instead of the honor system currently in place (which is often abused). The motivation of this deal isn't to make money, its to promote certain technologies, and to encourage people to convert and stay with the Windows platform. Why does Microsoft give away millions of dollars of software in the form of the MSDN Academic Alliance every year to schools and students? Why does it have an entire "software evangelist" program? It's not to make money in the immediate short term, but to make people convert to Microsoft products, many of which are quite well made. (Anyone play with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server?) Sure, there are open source alternatives but sometimes its easier to click a few buttons on a GUI instead of customizing a .conf file. And, if people convert to the Microsoft way of doing things, they're more likely to purchase the money makers, like Office, or use certain software solutions when making purchasing decisions for their IT department.
  • Re:Sorry Mac Users (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ditoa ( 952847 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:00AM (#15711017)
    In all fairness they never said "Virtual PC is free" they said "Virtual PC 2004 is free" as VPC2004 is Windows only one would hope they could work out only the Windows version is free. As soon as I saw the "2004" bit I realised this was a Windows only freebie. I wouldn't be surprised however if a) Microsoft buy Parallels, everyone talks about Apple doing it but seem blind to the fact MS already has a PPC emulation product and will most likely want to make an Intel based virtualization product, why start from scratch when you can buy a, small and therefore cheap, Russian company who has already done 100% of the work. They will then of course make Parallels free (the client application at least) and do a bundle of Parallels + a Windows license (perhaps even a preconfigured VM as it is possible) and then sell that, perhaps even as a deal with Apple so it comes preinstalled.

  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:57AM (#15711251) Homepage
    Windows 3.1 won't work in dosemu (which uses the old V86 virtualization that's been in the Intel 80386 onwards), nor will it run in OS/2's V86 environment. But you can patch it with some DLL you used to be able to download from IBM that makes it use DPMI for protected mode, and then it runs in both.

    The new virtualization stuff is much more capable than V86 mode so I'd be surprised if it couldn't cope with Windows 3.1.
  • Re:OSS is working (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @06:09AM (#15711399)
    This huge industry push to OSS and virtualization could be the end of Microsoft and the tech economy as we know it.

    How can a push to virtualisation - the process of running an OS on "virtual hardware" - possibly be the end of a company that's core business involves selling an OS? Not to mention that most virtualisation products require a host OS in the first place (VMWare's ESX Server is the only one that springs to mind that doesn't, but it certianly still requires at least one guest OS)

    Besides which, the real uses for virtualisation (to my mind) are currently:

    1) Running multiple server OSes on a beefy server
    2) Running an alternative OS for testing or application availability purposes

    In the first instance, you're most likely going to be running server OSes, and I don't see MS changing the licencing terms for any of their Server products any time soon, so that'll still require one licence per VM. In the second instance, the licencing is immaterial, as you only need the one licence anyway.

    Now, a move to OSS I can see being problematic for vendors like MS, but let's be honest here - it's not looking to have made much of a dent in their profits over the last decade or so. Doubtless it will given time, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Ousting a company that is *that* entrenched is no simple matter.
  • by vitamine73 ( 818599 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:07AM (#15711661)
    the download page [] at microsoft indicates that, while the license type is "free", it as a limitation of 45 days!

    Number of Downloads 89,052
    Uninstaller Included? Yes
    License Type Free
    Limitations 45-day trial

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