Microsoft’s Vista licensing forbids Mac users from virtualizing cheaper versions

“After years of delays and billions in development and marketing efforts, it would seem that Microsoft Corp. would want anyone who possibly can to buy its new Windows Vista operating system. Yet Microsoft is making it hard for Mac owners and other potentially influential customers to adopt the software,” Brian Bergstein reports for The Associated Press. “Microsoft says the blockade is necessary for security reasons, but some dispute that claim.”

Bergstein reports, “now that Macintosh computers from Apple Inc. use Intel Corp. chips, just like Windows-based PCs, virtualization programs let Mac users easily switch back and forth between Apple’s Mac OS X operating system and Windows. That could appeal to Mac enthusiasts who want access to programs that work only on Windows, including some games.”

“However, Vista buyers have to agree to its licensing rules — a legally binding document. Lurking in that 14-page agreement is a ban on using the least expensive versions of Vista — the $199 Home Basic edition and the $239 Home Premium edition — in virtualization engines,” Bergstein reports. “Instead, people wanting to put Vista in a virtualized program have to buy the $299 Business version or the $399 Ultimate package.”

Bergstein reports, “The less expensive versions of Vista actually would work in virtualization programs. But Microsoft wants to restrict it because of new security holes spawned by the technology, according to Scott Woodgate, a director in Microsoft’s Vista team.”

Bergstein reports, “even though Microsoft will let virtualization products run the higher-priced versions of Vista, some powerful features in those editions are forbidden in virtualization. The license agreement prohibits virtualization programs from using Vista’s BitLocker data-encryption service or from playing music, video or other content wrapped in Microsoft’s copyright-protection technology. Microsoft says virtualization’s security holes make those features dangerous.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This seems to be a story all over again thanks to The Associated Press. Again, this sounds more like something the desperate OS-limited HPs, Dells, Lenovos, Toshibas, Gateways, etc. of the world would ask Microsoft to implement because they know that only Apple Macs can run Mac OS X, Linux, and/or WIndows. Why buy an OS-limited PC with access to a smaller software library when you can get a Mac that does it all? Note also that, if you don’t want to just ignore Microsoft’s license terms, Apple’s Boot Camp is not virtualization and is therefore not covered under Microsoft’s license agreement, so you could run any of the cheaper Vista versions on your Mac via Boot Camp.

Related articles:
Computerworld: Apple Macs are the most flexible, compatible computers on the planet – February 20, 2007
Microsoft’s Windows Vista Home license forbids virtualization – February 02, 2007
Apple Macs can run more software than Windows PCs – October 30, 2006
Microsoft license terms limit Vista virtualization to Vista Ultimate or Business versions – October 18, 2006
Apple Mac’s 2007 market share climb will dumbfound almost everyone, create mayhem in PC market – September 08, 2006
$399 for Windows Vista Ultimate?! (Hint: Get a Mac) – August 29, 2006
Dude, you got a Dell? What are you, stupid? Only Apple Macs run both Mac OS X and Windows! – April 05, 2006
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005
Why buy a Dell when Apple’s Intel-based computers will run both Mac OS X and Windows? – June 08, 2005
Intel-based Macs running both Mac OS X and Windows will be good for Apple – June 10, 2005
Windows users who try Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger might not want to go back – June 07, 2005
Microsoft and Dell must have a lot of bricks lying around today – June 07, 2005
Apple’s Schiller: No virtualization in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, ‘our solution is dual boot’ – July 10, 2006


  1. Yeah M$ is defending its turf. Wait until they realize the Zune is dead and they try to resurrect it. Look for iTunes blocking patches to be released to Vista users.
    They will claim it is a security patch and block the iTunes port. Of course blocking iTunes will be a “mistake” that can ony be corrected by navigating through 200 firewall confugration “wizards”.

    These are the kind of tricks M$ starts to play when they feel the heat. Kudos to Jobs and Parallels!

    Just my $0.02

  2. The only reason(s) why you would need XP or Vista on your Mac is either:

    1) Your job has these annoying PC-only programs that they force you to use, or
    2) You’re a PC gamer.

    All other efforts can be accomplished via OSX in a more productive, safe, and reliable manner.

  3. Don’t get me wrong I am not a big MS fan, BUT at least they allow virtualization. Apple forbids it on all versions of OSX, and nobody critiquing them. And, yes there are valid reasons to run virtual OSX machines.

  4. Holy Cow! MicroCrap is now worried about securtiy?

    Worried, yet the best they can do is a few whiney lines of legal babble.

    What happened to old-fashioned security, the kind you had to implement?

    As for licensing hassles, fsck MS. If you really need to virtualize Vista and want to be clean, wait until the high-end versions are selling for peanuts on eBay.

  5. 1. Is Microsoft’s business plan is to limit sales of Vista or is Microsoft stating that the “Home” editions of Vista are inherently less secure as other versions?
    2. If we believe Microsoft concern for its customers, how are the “Home” editions of Vista inherently less secure than other versions?
    3. Do the security risks in “Home” editions also apply to PC owners running Vista natively?
    4. Why doesn’t Microsoft include a disclaimer with each “Home” edition of Vista that absolves Microsoft of any security problems with running the “Home” edition in virtualization?
    5. How can Microsoft effectively prohibit someone from running any version of Vista in virtualization except by user acquiescence?
    6. How does virtualization of Vista or any other operating system introduce an extra measure of risk?

  6. The lower versions of Vista are less processor intensive and therefore would run faster under virtualization?

    M$ likes Windows and Office running on a Mac, but they want it crippled in some way as to lure you to the dark side.

    Direct X for one.

  7. MS and virtualization:

    You CAN’T run cheaper versions of Vista?
    You’re not SUPPOSED to run them?

    There IS a difference.

    And I’ll bet the $10 copies of XP and Office I procured in Bulgaria for a friend…
    wink wink nudge nudge

  8. Someone said,

    ” . . that Apple won’t allow virtualization of its OS, either, otherwise it would run on Windows boxes. If you condemn Micropork for doing it, you’d have to condemn Apple, too.”

    Not really. Apple is doing it because they are primarily a hardware company, and their objective is to sell hardware. Allowing their OS to run on other hardware would be very detrimental to their core business.

    On the other hand, MS sells operating systems, so their core business is to get their OS running on as many systems as they can. What they are doing here is limiting their OS to only the more expensive versions simply because they think they can make more money that way. I don’t buy their “virtualization’s security holes make those features dangerous” for a New York minute.

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