Vista to Become More Virtualization-Friendly

Microsoft has tweaked the licensing for Windows Vista slightly to allow users of the Enterprise version of its software to use the operating system in non-traditional environments, such as diskless PCs.

The changes were announced at Microsoft's Management Summit 2007, an annual event held for IT management professionals in Redmond. The company says its customers had been requesting the licensing changes so that IT administrators could experiment with new management architectures.

Changing the licensing to better support virtualization shows a slow capitulation on Microsoft's part to answer calls for better support of the increasingly popular technology. The company briefly flirted with banning Vista virtualization altogether last year, although settled later on taking it out of home versions only.

Still, in order to use these new virtualization features, a company would need to purchase a license for Vista Enterprise, only available to those who participate in Microsoft's Software Assurance program.

Diskless PCs are considered workstations where the PC runs windows, but has no hard drive. Instead, the data is stored in a centralized location on a network. Microsoft says it would work with customers to provide solutions for both individualized and shared disk images.

Along with the right to use Vista on so called "diskless" PCs, customers would also gain access to a subscription license called Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD), which permits use of Vista on virtual machines centralized on a server.

"These are still nascent technologies and new architectures, and we think that only a select few customers are planning to broadly implement these centralized desktop models today," Microsoft Windows Business Group director Scott Woodgate said.

Woodgate and Microsoft had expressed a similar stance on virtualization last month when the news about Vista's near-nixing of virtualization first appeared.

Woodgate said the company would continue to invest in virtualization over the next few years. "These investments will span multiple disciplines, ranging from the desktop to the datacenter, and will fuel our overall virtualization strategy," he added.

Virtualization features for images residing on a PC rather than a server remain unchanged - only customers of Ultimate or Enterprise can use the Vista in that configuration.

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