Smart Microsoft strategy to increase the uptake of Windows Vista

by ron on February 25, 2007

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate FULL VERSION [DVD]Microsoft have been working hard the last few years on Windows Vista. On February 1st 2007 Microsoft finally released the various editions of Windows Vista to the general public. They didn’t get the mad midnight openings with hundreds of people just waiting to pounce when the retail store doors were opened. The Vista launch was far more mild.

The problem

Part of the reason for this is that there was a lot of mixed press regarding Windows Vista, since there were two big problems that Microsoft would have a hard time with: driver availability and compatibility of all of the common software applications which people use.

Microsoft dealt with the driver issue fairly well. They put in a lot of effort with hardware vendors and supplied over 20,000 drivers on the Windows Vista DVD, which is over double the amount which Windows XP launched with in 2001. But people today are much more demanding than they used to be, and if a user can’t get one or two of their existing hardware devices to not work with Vista, then you can expect a lot of complaining.

Microsoft can’t be too hard on vendors though, since they are in the same situation themselves; their latest LifeCam webcams only had drivers released in early February, even though the LifeCam cameras had been available for around 6 months.

The second problem, with regards to software compatibility, was a much bigger problem to deal with. Microsoft had to work very hard to get even their own software patched up, such as MS Office, prior to the Windows Vista launch. In fact, they released around a dozen hotfixes the day prior to launching Windows Vista publicly on February 1st, many of which fixed software compatibility issues with other Microsoft software running on Vista.

So if Microsoft had issues in getting their own software ready for Vista in time, then imagine the situation of 3rd party vendors…

The solution

Microsoft obviously want users to leave Windows XP behind and come on over to Windows Vista. But how can they deal with the various applications that still are not compatible with Windows Vista?

The solution is to use virtualization.

Microsoft have just released Virtual PC 2007, which is software that allows you to create a virtual machine (called the “guest operating system”) which runs inside of Windows Vista (called the “host operating system”). Here’s a short video demo, introducing you to the software, and also an article showing many screen capture images of the installation and also the configuration.

The software is a free download from the Microsoft site, and is fully Windows Vista compliant. It even allows you to install a Windows Vista virtual machine (a guest) inside the physical Windows Vista system you are using (the host).

This means that you can now run Windows Vista as your main operating system, and run all of your software applications that aren’t Vista compatible inside a virtual machine running Windows XP. LifeHacker have posted an article showing you how to do this.

The murky waters

Does this mean that you can go ahead with the above and install a Windows XP guest virtual machine inside of your Windows Vista host?

Well, it depends on which version of Windows Vista you’re running. Microsoft have no less than 5 main versions of Windows Vista: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise.

  • Vista Home Basic and Home Premium editions do not let you legally install and run a virtual machine inside of Vista. If you want to legally run a Windows XP virtual machine guest, then you will need to purchase a Windows XP license in addition to the Windows Vista license you would have already purchased.
  • Vista Business and Ultimate editions do let you do so, but restrict you to a running a single virtual machine guest.
  • Vista Enterprise (only available to the corporate market) allows you to run up to 4 concurrent virtual machine guests.

Are there any other alternatives for virtualization?

There sure are.

VMware have a new version of VMware Workstation 6, which is currently in public beta, which has quite a few more advanced features than Virtual PC 2007 (USB2, more advanced virtual networking, multiple snapshots, multiple monitor display, VM record/replay, etc).

There are also other contenders that offer free virtualization solutions (VMware player, VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2), and solutions you need to pay for (VMware Workstation, Parallels Workstation), but none of them currently officially support Windows Vista as a host operating system.

The bottom line

The use of virtualization technology will greatly assist Microsoft in getting market penetration with Windows Vista.

The fact that there are multiple free products that can fill this need is icing on the cake.


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