Virtual Vista comes Home

James Niccolai
22 January, 2008
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On Monday Microsoft loosened some of its licensing terms related to virtualisation, making it less expensive for Mac users to run Windows Vista legally using programs such as Parallels Desktop (distributed by Conexus) and VMWare Fusion (distributed by Pica Australia).

Users who purchase the Home Basic and Home Premium editions of Windows Vista can now legally run those OSes in avirtualised environment, Microsoft said. The company also announced new licensing rates for corporate users.

Virtualisation technologies separate the software on a computer from its underlying hardware,allowing it to be deployed in more flexible ways. Virtualisation canallow multiple operating systems to run on one computer, for example, or allow application workloads to be shifted between computers more easily to improve hardware utilisation.

The technology has been around for decades but was popularised in server environments recently by VMware and others. The technology became popular on the Mac when Apple switched to Intel processors, allowing Macs to run Windows at near-native speeds.

Previously, only the most expensive "Ultimate" edition of Vista could legally be run in a virtual machine (there were no technical barriers, only legal ones). This new announcement makes the much-cheaper Home Basic and Home Premium versions fair game.

The announcement came as Microsoft laid out plans to become a bigger force in the market for virtualisation software, stepping up its assault on established leaders such as VMware.

Microsoft’s plans include the acquisition of a start-up company, Calista Technologies, whose graphics technology is designed to improve the end-user experience for people who access their Windows desktop remotely from a server, Microsoft said.

Finally, Microsoft extended its partnership with Citrix Systems to make that company’s Xen virtualisation software work better with Microsoft’s server and desktop software, it said.

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