Microsoft has done an about-face on its previous about-face and has now decided that it will allow all versions of Windows Vista to be licensed for use in a virtual machine environment.
The software maker will announce this change of heart at its Virtualization Deployment Summit in Bellevue , Wash. , on Jan.22.
Virtualization lets a single machine run multiple operating systems, creating greater flexibility and efficiency for customers.
The revised Vista end-user licensing agreement now states that “instead of using the software directly on the licensed device, you may install and use the software within only one virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed device.”
“When used in a virtualized environment, content protected by digital rights management technology, BitLocker or any full volume disk drive encryption technology may not be as secure as protected content not in a virtualized environment. You should comply with all domestic and international laws that apply to such protected content,” it says.
This is a reversal from June 2007, when the company announced it was standing firm on its more restrictive virtualization policy.
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Shanen Boettcher, Microsoft’s general manager for Windows product management, told eWEEK that the about-turn is a response to ongoing feedback from customers.
Larry Orecklin, Microsoft’s general manager for server infrastructure, added that customers have shown increased interest and usage of virtualization over the past six months, and that Microsoft can provide guidance to ensure customers have a secure infrastructure. “We think the market is now ready for this,” he said.
Microsoft will also now offer support for Office as a virtualized application and let customers run multiple versions of Office side-by-side on the same device by offering support for Office 2003 and Office 2007 when running in Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 and SoftGrid Application Virtualization 4.2.
Up until now this was supported by the SoftGrid team, but not the Office team itself. “The support customers will now receive will be the same whether Office is physically or virtually installed, and we expect the industry to follow us on this front,” said Orecklin.
New Solution Accelerators
Microsoft will also introduce four new Solution Accelerators that will be available at the Windows Server 2008 launch on Feb. 27. This is essentially free guidance resources and tools to help customers plan and deploy virtualization technologies, including Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services and Microsoft Application Virtualization, Orecklin said.
This latest reversal follows the company’s flip-flop in June 2007, when it was all set to announce that the lower-cost Vista Home Basic ($199) and Vista Home Premium ($249) versions could be used in virtual machine environments, and that it had lifted its prohibition on the use of information rights management, digital rights management and its BitLocker data encryption service in a virtual machine.
In a prebriefing at the time, a spokesperson for the Vista team told eWEEK that the decision to allow the virtualization of all Vista SKUs was a reaction to greater awareness of the potential security issues around virtualization and customer pressure on the company to offer greater choice.
But then something happened that resulted in a 180-degree turnaround in Microsoft’s position, with a company spokesperson telling eWEEK shortly thereafter that “Microsoft has reassessed the Windows virtualization policy and decided that we will maintain the original policy announced last fall.”
That meant that only the high-end Business ($299) and Ultimate ($399) versions of Vista would continue to be enabled for virtualization.