The Computer Blog

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fusion Confusion

My buddy Eric, who bought into being a Mac convert this past year, brought me a copy of the User Guide for VMWare’s Fusion 2.0. He had found a very interesting paragraph that seemed to imply that Fusion 2.0’s VMware Tools had solved the problem that drove me into always choosing one way to operate Windows on a Mac, i.e., via virtualization or Boot Camp. The best of both worlds would be to be able to use virtualization or Boot Camp at will. Yes, both VMWare’s Fusion and Parallels software let you set up a virtual machine using a Boot Camp partition, but switching back and forth between the two has been made impractical by Microsoft’s activation scheme. My experience was that every time I switched from one to the other and back, I would have to re-activate both operating system instances. Sooner or later (and usually sooner) this would cause me to hit MS’ activation limit, making my copy of Windows XP Pro a useless piece of crap. ..unless I bought another license for it. I have no intention of doing anything that remotely smacks of paying Microsoft for a subscription, no matter how much they’d like that.

I don’t have the paragraph in the user’s guide to quote from, but it seemed to imply that Version 2’ VMware Tools would keep XP from taking its knee-jerk activation action when you switched back and forth between the two environments. I tried to test that last night using the copy of XP Pro I had allocated for my MacBook Pro, but I ran into the activation limit before I could complete my tests. That said, what I saw made it look like nothing had changed, that XP would activate each time I switched environments. Eric also tried playing with his copy of XP Pro on his MacBook Pro and saw the same type of thing. Still, neither of us got results that were conclusive since we both ran into an activation limit before being able to do the “run Boot Camp, activate, run virtual, activate, switch back to Boot Camp and check for activation” methodology we needed.

Eric came back in this morning convinced that the paragraph is poorly written in that it employs an assumption that, even though you’re running off the Boot Camp partition, you’re going to run in virtualization forever after. Doing that would only require you to activate the virtual machine once, and you’d be left well enough alone. I think he’s right. The bottom line is that Microsoft’s activation scheme cripples uses of Windows XP it might be put to, whether the OS is being run on a Mac or a PC and pisses off only the customers who gave MS cash in good faith in the first place. Because of that, too, no matter whether you have virtualization software or Boot Camp loaded on your machine, you’re going to have pick one way of running and stick with it.


Post a Comment

<< Home