Feeds

Friendly fire mixup: MS identifies Windows as Mac

Virtual intruder disarmed

High performance access to file storage

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.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.