Feeds

Friendly fire mixup: MS identifies Windows as Mac

Virtual intruder disarmed

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Updated In what might be described as a "Friendly Fire" incident, Microsoft software has identified a copy of Windows as a hostile operating system - belonging to enemy Apple forces.

The host software, Virtual PC 2007, promptly disabled the intruder.

It's not the first time Microsoft has incorrectly identified its own software - and shot it down.

Reader David Viner sends us this picture of the incident:

Friendly Fire: Incoming Mac disabled (click to enlarge)

David explains:

I downloaded the new MS Virtual PC 2007 freebie and tried it out using an old copy of Win98SE (which, according to MS, is a supported client OS). It all installed ok (despite me hosting it on XP Home and not Pro) and after about 30 minutes Win98 was up and running.

I then decided to try the Windows Update option from the Win98 Start menu but it bombed out after a few screens with one of MS's cryptic error numbers.

So I manually updated IE from version 5 to 6 (which I thought might prevent the Windows Update hiccup). However, now when I try to access the update site I get a message which suggests that MS thinks I'm running a Mac!!"

So what's really going on here?

We have a theory [*].

Microsoft bought Virtual PC from Connectix, in February 2003. The software allowed PowerPC-based Macs to host Intel x86 operating systems including Windows, OS/2 and Linux x86. Microsoft dropped support for non-Microsoft operating systems but continued to sell the PPC product, until last year.

Now, Virtual PC 2007 is a native x86 host. The product actually does officially support Windows 98, as this page confirms.

What we suspect is that the string that identifies the CPU hasn't been modified since the days of the PPC version. But then again, on the PPC edition, Windows identifies the virtual host CPU as er, a virtual Pentium Pro class chip. And it runs Software Update just fine.

Here's what Windows reports running on the PPC version on Virtual PC, on a Mac G5:

Windows on Virtual PC, PPC style

If any reader knows the Windows equivalent of uname -a - it could help clear up the mystery.

Microsoft seems to have enormous problems with old stuff in general. In the Comes anti-trust case, it emerged that two dozen libraries were shipping with Windows, for which Microsoft couldn't produce the source code.

Maybe the dog ate it?

And as Verity Stob described here yesterday, ancient documentation simply gathers more cruft. ®

Update

Many readers are experiencing the same problems - without Virtual PC. "I've got a laptop in running the dreaded Windows ME that's kicking off because it thinks it's a Mac - brilliant!!" writes Louis.

Randall adds -

"No matter what I tried, MS update wouldn't be convinced I was actually using an MS product. I suspect since MS now doesn't support win98 their web-based logic checks for all "supported" MS operating systems and by default the old IF/NOT/ELSE ELSEs to THEREFORE NOT MS so must be MAC. An 'honest' mistake to be sure, we all know that MS wouldn't do anything to force legacy users to upgrade {*wry grin*}

And the same happens with Win 98 SE.

Gareth says this workaround works: "I found that by changing the v6 in the address bar back to v4, the updates worked fine."

Thanks Ian, David and John.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?