Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Require Licenses for Virtual Windows Installs?

At work I'm trying to do more testing on virtual machines, and I've run into the thing where you have to "activate" a virtual Windows install, but you can't just use the key you used for your real system because Microsoft will think you upgraded or replaced your system and stop recognizing the real one (or something: I'm not exactly sure how it plays out).

It appears that technically you need a separate Windows license for each virtual machine you run. Which I totally understand from a technical perspective—if your OS's licensing is linked to the hardware it runs on and you run it on virtual hardware then you need to license it for the virtual hardware—but not at all from a business standpoint.

So it would all make sense, except that apparently newer versions of the OS allow you to run some fixed number of virtual installs (like ten or something) on the same license as the host OS. Whatever effort was required to implement that feature presumably exceeded the effort it would have taken to allow any number of virtual machines to run on a machine under a single host's license.

I literally cannot imagine a single reason for limiting the number of virtual installations of an OS under a single host's license. How is running a zillion copies of Windows on the same hardware going to cheat Microsoft out of anything?

4 comments:

dr said...

How is allowing *any* multiple installs NOT "cheating them out of" something, from their POV? If you had to pay for each virtual copy, they would make more money. Ergo and ipso factor, voila.

However, maybe the answer to your question is: Hosting companies? They do like 1024 virtual machines on one big honking one.

tps12 said...

How is allowing *any* multiple installs NOT "cheating them out of" something, from their POV?

Well fair enough, but by that same logic why not require two licenses for each physical machine?

Hosting is an interesting idea. I had thought those were like virtual servers, like just a bunch of different IP addresses and web server instances. It seems like running virtual machines in that context would just mean unnecessary overhead, but I guess that makes sense.

dr said...

...but by that same logic why not require two licenses for each physical machine?

I hope Bill Gates isn't listening to this internet. That said, I think my idea follow naturally from the "one license per installed copy of windows" concept.

It seems like running virtual machines in that context would just mean unnecessary overhead, but I guess that makes sense.

A lot of services offer you the ability to write scripts, install software, etc and so forth. They can also chroot jail you.

tps12 said...

Yeah, you're right. I was just picturing a single user.