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Microsoft gives away Windows 8 to Mac devs

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Microsoft has decided the best way to get Mac-using developers to use Windows 8 for web compatibility testing is to give it away.

Redmond today launched an offer to developers whereby they'd get Windows 8, Parallels desktop virtualisation software and a USB containing both if they make a $US25 donation to a charity through a service called Swish.

The offer was made in a blog post timed at Wednesday, April 3, 2013 1:12 AM, but without an explanation of the time zone in which the author resides.

Wherever Sandeep Singhal, group program manager for Internet Explorer penned the post, the offer worked: an update confusing time-stamped "10:45am 4/2/2013” says the offer “sold out quickly”.

The offer was not as desperate as it might seem to those bemused by some of the choices Microsoft made with Windows 8's interface and its subsequent less-than-enthusiastic reception. Instead it was made in the context of an upgrade to modern.IE, the web site Microsoft erected back in January to allow developers to test websites for cross-browser compatibility.

“We heard that the most common way you test across browsers is through virtualization of browser and operating system combinations using your favorite virtualization platform, such as Hyper-V, VMWare, VirtualBox, or Parallels,” Singhal wrote, adding that “costs to purchase software and licensing can be difficult if you’re that startup looking for your first big breakthrough.” At $25 for Windows 8 and Parallels desktop, developers can hardly afford not to use modern.IE, if you'll excuse our logical and linguistic excursion into advertorial-land.

Parallels will doubtless be chuffed with this arrangement, given Microsoft could have bundled the free VirtualBox or VMware Player or suggested use of Apple's Boot Camp to enable the same outcome. The parentage of the first two applications mentioned – Oracle owns VirtualBox, while Player's genesis needs no explanation – almost certainly means Microsoft was happier to nourish a minor competitor like Parallels instead of closer competition.

It's a little harder to see why Redmond wasn't keen to suggest Mac users install Windows 8 using Boot Camp, as doing so would make the operating system available without the performance-inhibitor that is a desktop hypervisor. Running Parallels will, however, allow users to run more virtual machines than just Windows 8, and that plays into Microsoft's hands as one element of the modern.IE upgrade is pair of new Vms – IE 10 on Windows 7 and IE8 on Windows XP - to further ease website testing. ®

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