Microsoft license terms limit Vista virtualization to Vista Ultimate or Business versions

Microsoft has just published on its license terms webpage the details of licenses for each Vista version.

One term targets users of Mac OS X and virtualization software users, according to the French-language MacBidouille’s English translation site HardMac, “One can not use emulation or virtualization solutions with Vista Home (Premium and Basic). Parallels and soon VMWare will not be allowed to make this Vista version running on their system. One will need to acquire Vista Ultimate or Business (US$399 and US$299 respectively) to make it possible. It will for sure limit the usage to Pro users, probably a way for Microsoft to prevent PC users to buy a Mac or even considering switching.”

Full article here.

From Microsoft’s Software License Terms for Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium:
You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.

From Microsoft’s Software License Terms for Windows Vista Ultimate:
You may use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed device. If you do so, you may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker. We advise against playing or accessing content or using applications protected by other digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other rights management services or using full volume disk drive encryption.

MacDailyNews Take: How long until that little limitation is cracked? Of course, Apple’s Boot Camp is not virtualization and is not affected by this licensing issue. To date, Apple’s official line (as per Apple VP Phil Schiller via Macworld in July) is that “we’re not going to do” virtualization in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, “our solution is dual boot.”

Related articles:
Microsoft’s Windows Vista will limit reinstall to one time and one time only – October 13, 2006
CNET: Microsoft’s Windows Vista still not ready for prime time – October 12, 2006
Thurrott: ‘You don’t need Windows Vista’ – October 11, 2006
Microsoft’s Windows Vista spyware may prompt users to upgrade to Apple Mac – October 09, 2006
Windows Vista gaming will be 10-15 percent slower than XP – October 09, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft’s new activation scheme will give users another reason not to upgrade to Vista – October 05, 2006
IT Managers: Do you need Windows Vista or should you ‘Get a Mac?” – September 11, 2006
Infoworld: Microsoft’s WIndows Vista not so revolutionary after all – September 11, 2006
Pirillo: Windows Vista RC1 disappointing, schizophrenic, disordered, inconsistent, and sad – September 07, 2006
Key Microsoft exec exits as clock ticks down on oft-delayed, much pared-down Windows Vista release – September 06, 2006
$399 for Windows Vista Ultimate?! (Hint: Get a Mac) – August 29, 2006
Development approaches of Mac OS X Leopard vs. Windows Vista yield very different results – August 15, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s new Mac OS X Leopard sets new bar, leaves Microsoft’s Vista in the dust – August 08, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Sophos: Apple Mac OS X’s security record unscathed; Windows Vista malware just a matter of time – July 07, 2006
Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006


  1. Wrong, MDN.
    How long before this is “cracked” will be irrelevant for most users. Average users want a system that is officially supported by the relevant companies, not something they have to kluge together that may be broken the next time M$ releases a patch. Requiring consumers buy the high-end ($$) versions of Vista to use through virtualization will be a serious blow to potential switchers interested in that approach. However, there’s no indication that the “Home” edition won’t work through Apple’s Bootcamp, which is not virtualization, so this could have been a lot worse.
    Still, pretty slimey.

  2. Relative to the cost and effort associated with upgrading from XP to Vista, the upgrade path XP –> OSX looks easier, less expensive, and on account of the technical merits of OSX ever more compelling.

  3. No offense to Microsoft, but the Home versions of their OS are typically so crappy, we almost always recommend people run the Pro version anyway; so if I was going to run Vista on my PowerBook, I’d have gone with a Pro version anyway.

  4. Am I correct in saying Bootcamp isn’t virtualization?

    It’s not quite Parallels, but for people that need Vista, and opt for the Home edition, it seems that Bootcamp (or whatever becomes of Bootcamp when Leopard rolls around) will take care of it.

  5. So, install XP for the few thungs you need to get done in Windows. It’ll be faster anyway. I don’t see this as being an issue. Also, next year, you will be able to buy a legal copy of XP for less than $50. Old OSes are cheap.

  6. What about technologies allowing Mac users to run apps written for Windows, yet while in Leopard, without Vista? This could be just the fire under the ass needed for WINE development, etc. A good thing! If that process became truly seamless most Mac buyers won’t bother with the expense of Vista, even if Vista costed $100, nonetheless $300 or $400. Windows developers will love the extra software purchases, and MonopoSoft will have no way to force developers to disallow virtualization at the application level.


  7. Boot Camp runs Windows native, not virtualized. There is nothing Microsoft could ever do to stop Boot Camp.

    Boot Camp offers much higher performance than Parallels and takes full advantage of all of your CPU cores; Parallels only offers a single virtualized core, which takes about two cores to run at speed anyways. Only Boot Camp supports 3D acceleration.

  8. If they put in restrictions to prevent Vista Home running on bootcamp would put them on dodgy legal ground. Bit of a blow for people wanting to run it via virtualisation and don’t have access to the full version.

    For occassional Windows use you’ll probably be better off sticking with Windows XP as it uses less resources and is faster than Vista. You’re not going to run Windows on a Mac for the OS anyway, just a way to access Windows software.

  9. If Microsoft really did this, it would only serve to prevent Parallels users from buying Vista – they’d just keep using XP. That seems like too stupid of an idea even for Microsoft – I call BS.

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