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Microsoft prints get-out-of-jail card for Vista Home

Vista's virtual escape to victory

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Microsoft execs admitted today that its decision to open its Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium editions up to virtualisation was a "get-out-of-jail" card for the unloved platforms.

Redmond appears to be placating customers who are stubbornly unwilling to upgrade to Vista by bringing virtualisation to the flagging party.

Neil Sanderson, who heads up the firm's UK virtualisation biz, confirmed that Microsoft had opened up the two low-end Vista versions to virtualisation and planned to update its end-user license agreement (EULA) to allow customers to use the technology on the home desktop.

Microsoft IT pro evangelist James O'Neill described the firm's U-turn decision to allow home users to play the v-game as a "get-out-of-jail card".

But, Microsoft was a little bit shy about offering up any more concrete details on its change of heart. It did tell us there had been a security risk in Vista that had prevented Redmond from relaxing its licensing terms. One can only presume the software giant has now closed that particular vulnerability - it didn't say one way or the other.

Speaking at the firm's virtualisation event in London, O'Neill also dismissed what he reckoned were "myths that large amounts of applications are not supported" in the new OS. He claimed that, compared to the market release of XP, Vista was performing better at software compatibility issues.

However, although its Office 2003 apps suite is fully open for virtualisation, the firm admitted that Office 2007 has some restrictions preventing it from being fully used in virtual environments - notably, its search functionality has thrown a sizable spanner in the works.

So, what distinguishes Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor offering, which will be bundled with its Server 2008 product, from the likes of other platforms such as SWSoft and VMWare?

The Microsoft team couldn't really nail it for us today, other than to claim that its management tools were superior to other offerings in the marketplace. But the firm also conceded that down the line customers won't really care which vendor provides the technology.®

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