Microsoft slugs Mac users with Vista tax

February 7, 2007

Updated 8 Feb 07: Mac users wanting to run Vista on their Macintosh will have to buy an expensive version of Vista if they want to legally install it on their systems using virtualization technology.*

Microsoft slugs Mac users with Vista tax

It appears Microsoft doesn’t want to make life easy for Mac users

The end-user license agreement for the cheaper versions of Vista (Home Basic and Home Premium) explicitly forbids the use of those versions  on virtual machines (ie Macs pretending to be PCs):

“You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system,” the end user license agreement states.

However, the more expensive Vista Enterprise and Ultimate Editions, can be installed on a virtual machine. From the end user license agreement:

“You may use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed device. If you do so, you may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker. We advise against playing or accessing content or using applications protected by other digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other rights management services or using full volume disk drive encryption.”

The Home Basic version of vista costs US$199, compared to US$299 for the Enterprise edition (the cheapest version of Vista for everyone else, compared to the cheapest version of Vista for Mac users). This means that Mac users are being slugged an extra $100 (let’s call it a tax) for simply being Mac users.

It  also seems that even if you do buy and install the more expensive version of Vista on your Mac, you’re not able to play or access content protected by Microsoft’s digital rights management system, for fear that the full volume disk encryption won’t work.

Parallels Desktop for Mac is a hardware emulation vitalization software package that allows Mac users to install Vista on their systems. The head of marketing at Parallels, Ben Rudolph, is understandably upset by Microsoft’s licensing policy:

To me, this strategy could hold back users who embrace cutting-edge technologies like vitalization, which means they won’t upgrade to Vista. This means that Microsoft has effectively lost an upgrade customer (in the case of Windows PCs) or an entirely new customer (for Mac and Linux users),” wrote Rudolph on Parallel’s official blog.

With Microsoft being tardy about a new version of Mac Office (apparently it’s coming in later this year), and the feud between Gates and Jobs intensifying in recent weeks, Mac users could be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft is going out of its way to make life difficult.

Update/clarification - the Vista end-user license agreement does not forbid the installation of Vista using Apple’s Bootcamp. However, if Vista is installed using Bootcamp, you cannot run it concurrently with Mac OS. With Bootcamp, all you’ve got is a PC living in the body of your Mac – you can either use the PC or use the Mac, not both at the same time. In which case, what’s the point?

Be Sociable, Share!

62 Responses to “Microsoft slugs Mac users with Vista tax”

  1. Henry Wertz:

    Yes, this had already stopped me from even toying with Vista. I run gentoo primarily, and was interested a bit in “playing” with Vista, but if it will not run in a VM I’m entirely disinterested in it. I will not have 2+ PCs on my desk just to accomodate MS. Oh, as a practical matter, Vista after Beta 2 won’t run AT ALL under several virtual machine environments, apparently because it’s very picky about ACPI.

  2. Bill F.:

    So what? Its not like Apple makes it easy to run OS X on anything but Apple hardware. Apple does it and its OK. Microsoft does it and they are evil?

    Give me a break

  3. Kufat:

    You can still run the cheapo Vista using Boot Camp; you just can’t use it in Parallels. Boot Camp isn’t virtualization software.

  4. Blue Dauber:

    It seems a bit short-sighted to believe that a “Mac tax” would be a primary reason Microsoft would disallow the inexpensive versions of Vista to run in a virtual machine. Microsoft’s goals are almost certainly to make more money from virtual Vista installs in enterprise environments – hence the name “Enterprise Edition”. That’s where their money is at with virtualization at the moment – not in a small corner of the desktop market.

  5. RockerDude:

    And why the heck would anybody want to run Vista?

    GNU or BSD is the only sensible choice. Apple and MS are both suckers.

  6. Devon Young:

    For some reason, Microsoft sees this move as profitable business. I can’t see it though. It’s cutting off a section of consumers from buying their product, and Microsoft built itself on being licensed out to anyone. It seems like an alienation strategy that’s not going to sell more product….even if it is a small segment of people in their eyes, it ain’t going to help anyone think “Oops, I shouldn’t be using a Mac, I need to use Windows”. What kind of business sense does that make? I just can’t see their angle here.

  7. Fizzle:

    Wish I could pay an extra $100 to run OSX on my PC…

  8. Jason C.:

    I’m reading it differently. When it says you may not use the software on the licensed device within a virtual machine, what it is saying is that you may not use the same License for both the host machine (licensed device) and the virtual machine running on that licensed device. When dealing with contracts, and by extension EULA’s you have to pay careful attention to the exatc wording, and as any lawyer will tell you, words can have multiple definitions.

  9. Jon:

    This is very misleading. You can install any version of Vista on a Mac on its own harddrive partition. This only applies to running it in a virtual machine.

  10. Anon:

    Mac fanboy propaganda from somebody who knows *nothing* about computers.

  11. nony mous:

    realistically the number of mac-folks affected by this pale in comparison to the number of businesses looking to virtualize their desktop pc’s into citrix/vmware farms.

  12. Zac:

    Do you care that you are wrong and have misread the EULA? It states that you cannot use the same license to run in a VM on the Licensed device. eg, you are not supposed to install home or basic on a physical machine and then use the same license/product key for the VM. You most certainly CAN run those OSes in a VM, but they require a full license just as a physical machine would. Enterprise and Ultimate are actually being MORE flexible that tradtional licenses in that you CAN USE THE SAME LICENSE FOR THE PHYSICAL MACHINE AND THE VM. Why is this so hard to understand? This FUD has been going around for months.

  13. Jorgie:

    I am pretty sure Jason C. called it. There is nothing stopping your from leagally useing any version in a VM. It is just that only Ultimate and in a more limited fashion Business give the the right to use the same single license for both the host OS and the guest OS.

    If correct, (and I think it is) this means that you can leagally run a single licensed copy of Vista Home in both Boot Camp and Paralles on the same Mac as long as done as a single instance. Either one is fine, but if you want to do both, Paralles but be mounting the Boot Camp partition, not using another copy in a virtual hard drive as that would be TWO seperate installs of Vista.

  14. Jorgie:

    Sorry “Paralles but be” should read “Paralles must be”.

    Zac, I am pretty sure you can do both with one license as long as you have Paralles just mount the existing Boot Camp volume.

  15. Zac:

    That may be correct, but is definitely in the grey areay. I would venture that it is correct in that the licensed instance is what really matters, not the manner in which it is leveraged. If you could pull the volume out and run it on VAX it is still the same licensed instance. I think they were trying to emphasize the extra benefits of Enterprise and Ultimate in respect to VMs.

  16. rei:

    Right, so just because you can’t use the lower editions on VMs, Microsoft is now somehow magically taxing Mac users? And it’s an attack against Apple?

    Durrrr… FUD? Persecution complex?

  17. Bryan Elliott:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Boot Camp run OS-X alternatives natively? IE: Not in a VM?

    This is only a tax on someone using Paralells – and then, only if you’re a business; a home user would likely be completely unperturbed by a line of text in the license agreement.

  18. nate:

    Right. It isn’t just mac that is punished. But Linux users would have to pay more for the better version to run in VM.

    “Parallels Desktop for Mac is a hardware emulation vitalization software package that allows Mac users to install Vista on their systems.”

    Go vitalization!

  19. john:

    Hello, you can too run other versions of Vista legally on your Mac. Also, guess what….the reason that Apple prevents Mac OS from running on other systems is because they are a hardware manufacture and they choose what makes their system most stable (IE run their OS on their chosen hardware). If Microsoft Windows was limited to a certain set of hardware there would have been a version released by now that was as stable as my Macintosh. I have used my Mac for three straight years without a single OS issue. If any Windows user says that they have accomplished the same I will not believe it because I am a Windows user too.

    I am an MCSE and so I owe MS my living but not my mind.

  20. alf:

    The license is pretty clear:

    Section 2: “Before you use the software under a license, you must assign that license to one device (physical hardware system). That device is the ‘licensed device.’”

    Additional license terms section: “You may not use the software installed on the
    licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.”

    It does not say you can’t run a second virtualized copy inside a host copy — it says you can’t use it in a virtual system, period.

  21. xploraiswakco:

    It should be noted that users of Boot Camp will NOT be affected by this, the license detail refers only to virtual environments, to which Boot Camp is not.

  22. mike h:

    “Bryan Elliott:
    February 7th, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Boot Camp run OS-X alternatives natively? IE: Not in a VM?”

    Bryan is 100% correct, macs run on x86 now, which is kinda what “PCs” are. There is no virtual machine, its a really installed. I believe this is more for people running Vista with in VMware and like apps.

    I think this will hit businesses and developers that use virtual machines for test environments more then anything.

  23. Eric Windisch:

    The EULA on page one, bullet #2, indicates that a “hardware partition” is a unique device. Based on this, is “hardware virtualization” as facilitated by VT/Pacifica and Parallels not creating “hardware partitions” and thus not subject to this limitation?

    The limitation is very clear regarding virtualization within the device … if the device itself is virtualized, then it is not WITHIN the device, and not relavent.

  24. Eric Windisch:

    (whoops, typo — s/relavent/relevant/)

  25. William Mayo:

    Honestly… If there was any justice, EULAs would be illegal. I mean, a contract that you only get to see AFTER you’ve already got a practially non-refundable product?

    This is a problem for me.

    P.S. I chime in with “Boot camp is not virtualization.” I win 10 points for correctness!

  26. fanboy:

    Just a not to the above post, OSX is based on BSD 4.4 know as darwin. So the statement that the only way to go is gnu or BSD still includes OSX, even if you don’t like the fact that they have taken the GUI closed source. The kernel is still BSD licensed.

  27. ismism:

    And the So What Meter has not even registered a response (and yes, it’s been carefully calibrated)

  28. JC Helary:

    MAC is not “a licensed device”, hence the restriction does not apply to it.

  29. Ryan:

    Uh, just install it anyway.

  30. Paul Blankenship:

    Read closer. It doesn’t say it can’t be used on a mac. It says in emulation. That means a virtual machine. You know, like VMWare. Booting the the OS directly is NOT virtual NOR emulated

  31. Scott:

    More and more “I hate MS so I’ll state something without backup”

    As other people have noted this also penalizes anyone running VMWare on a MS OS based PC – this isn’t targeted at Macintoshes, this is targeted at users running a MS OS in a virtual machine on any platform.

    sheesh. lose the chip off your shoulder.

  32. blah:

    It doesnt say that at all.. read it again. The device is not already (Windows) licensed if its only got OSX on it. The licensed device would then be the parallels drive image. You then cannot run another vmware/parallels/etc session within your parallels session.. They don’t want you to run 2 copies at the same time, which the ultimate and enterprise license allows (on the same machine).

  33. LKP:

    Re: Microsoft slugs Mac Users with a Vista Tax – I think that it will only a short period of time before MS is taken to court on the definition of a virtual or Emulated machine. Using Bootcamp one does not use an emulation, it simply allows correct partitioning to allow a unhindered install of Windows, then provides drivers applicable to the Macs hardware config to allow MS to configure. If one is to argue that this is emulation, then about 80% plus of PCs will fall into the same category. One wonders if MS id going to forbid a PC user that is already running windows Vista to install Linux or a separate partition.
    I don’t know what it’s called in the good old US of A, but in Australia it comes down to restrictive trade practice and therefore subject to legal challenge.

  34. nato:

    Don’t forgot that Vista Home Basic and Home Premium are artificially restricted to use only one physical processor, so although you’re OK if you have a dual-core CPU, if you have a Mac Pro which has 2 x dual-core CPUs, then only 1 of the 2 Physical Processors will be utilised, or 2 of the 4 cores as it turns out to be.

  35. Darren:

    Mac tax? You need to read more before posting fud like this. You can run Vista Home using bootcamp. The virtualisation clause is to stop a enterprise users using cheap Home licences for virtual machines. Does the EULA say you cannot virtualise it on macs specifically? No… maybe then they also mean PCs??? OMG!! A mac/pc tax. :P

  36. Thinker:

    To be fair, can you even run Mac OS X on a Windows Virtual Machine? At least Microsoft gives users a choice, all be it an expensive one. This licensing condition may be a bit stupid, but it does not seem to be targeted specifically at macs.

  37. Dirk Pitt:

    This article is false, bootcamp is not any sort of virtual machine. You’re free to install Vista on your mac if you choose to do so, without any ‘version restrictions’. This is an exclusion for things like VMware virtual machines. Please think before you submit your articles. Thanks. I suggest a retraction.

  38. zim:

    MS makes money on every copy of “Vista” it sells. This is bull shit! If a Mac OS X user wants to run a copy of Windows on a Apple PC it’s just bread and butter for MS.

    MS should encourage it!

    If Apple hardware runs Windows well and can compete Apple, MS wins. Apple makes kick ass hardware. They blow Dell away and they run a genera OS. As a UNIX guy Apple gives me the best of both worlds. The UNIX shell + bad ass gui and OSS support. That’s the reason all the UNIX guys in the world have switched!

    Windows has no chance against OSX. There is this thing called the UNIX shell. OSX has it. Windows doesn’t!

    Linux for servers.

    OSX/Darwin for development!


  39. Theo:

    This is completely false. The license forbids users running home versions of Vista in Parallels or, in fact, in any VM software, such as, surprise, surprise, VMWare, which is a big competitor to Microsoft’s Virtual PC and which Microsoft is trying desperately to kill. They don’t care about Macs that much, since those users who do need Windows on a Mac mostly need it to a)play games, in which case, they will definitely not do it in a VM, or b)do office work or run some proprietary Windows only software, in which case they’ll more likely than not be running Vista Business.

    If Home users on Macs want Vista Premium to Game they can,…….. wait for it ….. simply dual boot in the Bootcamp partition and run Vista Premium natively.

  40. AndyC:


    You can install Vista Home on a virtual machine, provided that is the only install of it. You can’t install Vista Home on a physical machine and then install the same license on a virtual machine running on that machine.

    However, you can install Vista Ultimate on a physical machine AND then use THE SAME LICENSE to install a copy on a virtual machine.

    That is the distinction that the EULA is making. It doesn’t say you can’t run on a virtual machine at all.

  41. Peter da Silva:

    “You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system”

    I don’t think that Vista will even run on an 80386, and pretty much every Intel processor newer than that emulates the 80386 instruction set via just-in-time translation to the “RISC core” introduced in the 80486. AMD does the same thing, though their cores tend to be VLIW rather than RISC.

    If you read this literally, it rules out booting Vista Home at all.

  42. Oliver Jones:

    Just another example of Apple FUD. Not that I haven’t seen this sort of thing before (shock, horror). What amused me most was the first post on this list – by Henry Wertz:

    “I will not have 2+ PCs on my desk just to accomodate MS.”

    Replace MS in that with “Apple” and you have my feelings on the issue as a PC user who wants to run OS X. When Apple doesn’t impose a “tax” on anyone wanting to use OS X (i.e. a large sum of money for unwanted hardware), I’ll be willing to consider that Microsoft is even being slightly unfair (despite, as posted earlier, basic editions of Vista are quite usable on Macs with Boot Camp – and PC users aren’t actually allowed to run basic Vista copies in VM instances either!) What do you want, different licence conditions – just because you’re Mac users? I’ve never seen such a load of sanctimonious claptrap in my life!

    Much ado about nothing, really.


  43. chimp:

    I think lots of people here are just looking to bash MS. this license is as was stated earlier in the comments to inform you that you can not install home or premium as a host os and then turn around and use that same licenes as a virtual os on that machine. You could however use you first lisecense as a virtual by itself. Enterprise and ultimate allow i belive one vm guest on your vista host with you single license key. Windows 2003 server R2 has the same set up. Standared one license = one license. Enterprise = 1 host and 4 VMs and datacenter if bought per processor = 1 host unlimited VMs on the same machine.

  44. David:

    Talk about spin. This has nothing at all to do with Macs or boot camp.
    It is there to stop you using the basic home versions of the OS in a corporate environment that’s all. If you look at Win XP home it is exactly the same.
    Sigh. What a heap of crap.

  45. Zoro:

    At least MS give you the chance to install their OS on Mac hardware. The Apple hypocrites won’t let you even have the option of installing their OS on a non Mac system even though it is possible now..pathetic.

  46. uomolinux:

    NO REASON TO MOVE TO VISTA ANYWAY: Vista itself is not ready for prime time. What they sell U is a XP update (Sp3). I will certainly not pay that tax and I guee some hack will probably appear soon if not already available..

  47. theMediaman:

    Installing Vista is not illegal. Running it through a Virtual Machine is. Big deal! Most of you will just set up a dual-boot situation anyway, and using Boot Camp doesn’t count as a “Virtual Machine”. If you are in a situation where you need to run Virtual Machines, then you probably want a professional version of Vista anyay.

    “Vista Tax”? Imagine if Bill charged you $99 for minor updates SP1 and SP2, like Jobs did with 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, etc. That’s a money-grab.

  48. squozen:

    I find it amusing that, when dragging a URL from IE to my desktop, the icon for doesn’t change to show Apple’s favicon. It does change for all other sites that I’ve visited. In fact, the page icon on my desktop was created with IE6. My newly installed IE7 doesn’t even change that old, default IE6 icon to the new IE7 default icon!

  49. Randy:


    You seriously jump to conclusions and obviously don’t understand what your writting about (even though you think you do).

    First Off — Apple’s boot camp is NOT A VITURAL MACHINE the virtual machine clauses in Vista’s EULA do not apply it! Boot camp is a boot loader and a set of Windows drivers for Mac hardware. You can legally run the Home Version of Vista on a Mac all you want.

    Secondly– Microsoft’s VM clauses in the EULA are not Mac specific! You can’t use a Virtual Machine on Linux, Unix, Solaris or (gasp !) even another Windows installation to run the Home version of Vista. Microsoft wants you to pay for each installation of Home Vista regardless of weather its Virtual or not — its as simple as that.

    Third: What makes you think your can’t have a VM installation as a licensed device??

    Don’t be a dork by trying to make this out to be some sort of Apple Vs MS thing.

  50. Matt:

    So what? Its not like Apple makes it easy to run OS X on anything but Apple hardware. Apple does it and its OK. Microsoft does it and they are evil?

    Exactly. Fuck off and stop moaning you mac homos.

  51. Anonymous Coward:

    Yay, this is what, the 30th time this has been on Digg and the morons writing the story still can’t figure out a simple sentence ?

    Like the last 30 times (I may be exaggerating but sadly, I don’t think I am) this is wrong:

    “You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system,” the end user license agreement states.

    If, you aren’t illiterate, what this tells you is that you can’t install say, Home Premium than inside that install run a VM machine of Vista Home Premium and use the SAME license. So, you can use it in a VM all you want, you just can’t use the license on the host machine at the same time.

    Bloody stupid lemmings.

  52. Test:

    Is this even legal?

  53. Test:

    OK- It looks like the article got it wrong legally from how the license is worded. Now, the real question is are there more Linux users or Vista users? It almost seems like there are more Linux users than Vista users still.

  54. Zaine Ridling:

    This is one of the better reasons to stick with XP for a while. Microsoft’s stance on virtualization is similar to the RIAA on piracy — they hate it, and I have no idea why, since MORE PEOPLE would use their stupid software. I’m spending 2007 converting to Ubuntu and so far, it’s been very exciting. My old computer is a screamer, and my new one (64-bit Quad) can do anything (just not on Vista). Better to pirate the damn thing.

  55. Augustus:

    What’s the point of running Vista and X separately? You can use the X side as a stable business platform and run Vista for games not available on Mac, like Microsoft’s own Flight Simulator or their upcoming Train Simulator. As for Linux? X is a Unix environment; to hell with using a PC for that and the inane hassle of installation every distro I’ve seen puts you through.

  56. Mad:

    And all those people that have spent how much cash on IPods still cant use ITunes on vista despite Apple constantly reminding us how long Vista took to come to the market. Swings and roundabouts

  57. cap'n crunch:

    So what. Ill just get a pirate copy of A vista that will run, or not use it at all because OSX is amazing

    yarr me hearty

  58. Doodee:

    Thanks for sharing

  59. Tad Engman:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about %meta_keyword%. Regards|

  60. spa pedicure chairs:

    I just could not go away your website prior to suggesting that I really
    enjoyed the usual information a person provide in your visitors?
    Is gonna be back ceaselessly to inspect new posts

  61. seguros coche online:

    You’re so cool! I do not think I’ve truly read anything like this before.
    So wonderful to find somebody with genuine thoughts on this subject matter.

    Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the internet,
    someone with a little originality!

  62. Elijah:

    I am really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A handful of my blog visitors have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any advice to help fix this issue?

Leave a Reply:

Recent stories

Featured stories

RSS Windows news

RSS Mac news

RSS iPad news

RSS iPhone & Touch

RSS Mobile technology news

RSS Tablet computer news

RSS Buying guides

RSS PS3/Wii/Xbox 360

RSS Green technology

RSS Photography

Featured Content


Copyright © 2014 NS