back to article OnLive goes legit with licensing downshift for virtual Windows

Microsoft has claimed a partial victory in getting OnLive to change its Windows-on-an-iPad service to comply with Windows 7 licensing terms. OnLive set up a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) system, offering users of the iPad and other hardware to use a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) version of Windows 7 on their devices. …


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  1. regorama
    IT Angle

    Screenshot proves nothing

    I have a Windows 7 machine and a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine. They both have that file shown in the search, so the screenshot proves nothing.

    Additionally, it'd be harder to reskin the OS than to just launch new instances with the correct OS.

    1. vDesktop

      Re: Screenshot proves nothing

      That's not entirely true actually, there are quite a few apps out there that assist with the reskin process, Citrix "Windows 7 Desktop Experience" is one of them that does a marvellous reskin job in no time.

      I myself can reskin a Windows 2008R2 desktop to look EXACTLY like Win7, its not at all difficult to do and being in the VDI/DaaS game its something you get good at.

      Thing is, when you reskin it you generally do not leave traces behind that visually reveal to the users that they are using a server desktop, you can change the start menu, dig into the kernel and change practically everything that makes the thing look like a server desktop.

      In this case though they have left lots of visual clues that its definately a Server 2008 desktop, which is something you would not do if you were trying to make it look like a Win 7 one.

      We find it very fishy as we do Microsoft being told they are legit.

      What is it they say about criminals in prison ? Oh yes, all of them are innocent when asked :)

    2. vDesktop

      Re: Screenshot proves nothing

      I have a Windows 7 machine and a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine. They both have that file shown in the search < Confirmed by my techies, we just checked.

      Curiouser and curiouser. Why would Server 2008R2 have Win7 files in it ? Leftovers from the original dev work perhaps before they forked Win7 into 2008R2 or vice versa ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Screenshot proves nothing

        Windows 7 and 2008R2 share the same codebase. You use the same service pack to upgrade them both.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Screenshot proves nothing

          To add to what anon said about 2K8 R2 and windows 7 sharing code, it's quite true- one service pack upgrades them both.

          And for as much flak and other crap that I've said about M$ products over the years, 2K8 is actually quite stable; it's at least as stable as 2K3 R2, which was running my company's AD backbone for quite some time. (Can't say the same about non-R2 server 2003, which had some interesting memory leaks over large amounts of uptime on busy domain controllers)

      2. toneii

        Re: Screenshot proves nothing

        As I recall setting up server 2008, it was horrible to use so there was a desktop experience you had to enable to make it friendly. maybe that is what the cab is for.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why should MS really care as long as the more expensive license was bought? In the end, Microsoft made the same amount of money

  3. vDesktop

    Assuming Microsoft would WANT to take them to the cleaners..

    I just wanted to comment on this and say that I am convinced that Microsoft do not want to take OnLive to court, if they did they would have done by now instead of writing that blog post.

    Typically companies like Microsoft respond with legal threats rather than blog posts when their licensing model is threatened, but not in this case where an ex-Microsoft exec is the CEO of the company, remember this same CEO sold his last company to Microsoft too.

    We took a close look at the current desktop image are deploying and discovered quite a few traces of Windows 7 in there and we arrived at the conclusion that this is a Windows 7 image skinned to look like Server 2008 in order to 'take the heat off' a little.

    You can see for yourselves if you are technical enough to dip into the desktop using the command prompt and other ways, I am sure a lot of you reading this have the technical capability.

    We are convinced that OnLive merely skinned their desktop rather than actually change the underlying infrastructure and that the traces of Windows 7 we see are evidence of this.

    They secured the image by installing to d:\ and use redirection to view some files, thats an easy way of securing the desktop, but one that also gives us a good view into the image itself.

    So we have access to command prompt, the install logs that show me that rc1 is used and that the image is 64 bit.

    Something cool is that they are using Remote FX in order to deliver the quality, this is the first time we have seen a proper Remote FX HTML 5 implementation outside of Dynamiqs.

    OnLive did an excellent job skinning this and delivering the desktop if they did at all, but left behind lots of clues to what they did do.

    But as I say, its difficult to prove conclusively and Microsoft are only saying that 'they have been told' which is a completely different thing from 'we have confirmed ourselves in an audit'.

    Where is the proper audit from Microsoft like the rest of us must endure ?

    Thats what I want to know.

    If you ask me, OnLive are taking the piss out of us all with this reskinned desktop, the irony is that if they were actually delivering a 2008R2 'desktop', they would skin it to look like Windows 7, but here they appear to be doing the exact opposite.

    We wondered why they left in obvious signs that this was a Server 2008 'desktop' and why they had not skinned it properly to look just like Win 7.

    I think we have our answer.

    1. toneii

      Re: Assuming Microsoft would WANT to take them to the cleaners..

      Naah, they are trying to make 2008 usable with windows 7 features. wouldn't that make more sense?

  4. Mikel

    Close enough

    It's close enough to real Windows 7 to eliminate many people's need to buy a PC. That's the important thing. Just get a tablet and OnLive and most of us are good to go.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Close enough

      "to eliminate many people's need to buy a PC"

      So presumably, they can plug their new iPad into this "Virtual PC" to get it to work and get rid of the message that says "Connect to your computer" (or has that gone away and they now work straight out of the box?)

      1. tirk

        "Connect to your computer"

        (Optionally) went with iOS 5 & iCloud AIUI.

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          Re: "Connect to your computer"

          That's good to know, thanks. When they eventually get around to actually having iPad 3s to sell here I'm going to get one, and I wasn't looking forward to having install iTunes & the rest of the stuff just to turn the thing on for the first time.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely 7 -> 2008 R2 is an upgrade or a side grade, not a downgrade?

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Downgrade?

      Indeed. Can I get something to skin Win7 as 2008R2 or XP?

      I'd also like to skin Office 2010 as Office 2003 too.

    2. Charles 9


      Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are both based on NT Kernel 6.1. They share the same codebase.

  6. Semaj

    What's the Ppoint?

    I don't really get the point of this service.

    Why not just create a (mostly) free AWS instance and use that with the existing remote desktop client? That way you don't lose your settings or anything either.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: What's the Ppoint?

      The only point I believe is OnLive's "special sauce" streaming tech, and doesnt require your own desktop.

      Other than *maybe* offering some performance improvements over slim connections and not needing your own desktop I dont see any difference between this and say LogMeIn and the rest of the VNC/RDP crowd in the iOS store.

  7. Ilgaz

    Can one dare?

    So, they are offering virtual windows to a platform poses most significant threat to Microsoft's future without licensing?

    How come poor end users running pirated software gets torture or small companies gets raided by BSA then? Does not compute.

  8. Mr Michael Strelitz

    You've all got it wrong - its a double bluff. They moved to Server 2008 but skinned it to look as though they'd skinned W7, hoping Microsoft would try to take them to the cleaners and they could then claim large damages!!!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What an absolute load of nonsense. If ever we needed a useful reminder of why deploying Microsoft products in production environments is more trouble than it's worth, here it is.

  10. Retron

    Easy enough to check whatever's running - just run Winver and that'll tell you (unless they've fiddled with the graphics embedded in various DLLs, which I doubt).

    Also, although you can enable themes and Aero Glass on a Windows Server 2008 R2 box, there are some subtle differences between that and Aero Glass on a real Windows 7 machine. For example, hover over the minimize button on Win7 and you get a blue glow surrounding the button. Do that on Server 2008 R2 and although the button lights up, you don't get a glow surrounding it.

  11. James 100

    The "same playing field as the rest of us" from a rival and Microsoft's "like thousands of other partners and utilizing our standing pricing and licensing terms" seem to indicate the real issue: OnLive is NOT just another startup doing VDI, it's one with close ties to MS.

    Microsoft's dilemma is that if they admit to giving OnLive a nice special licence exception for VDI, all their other customers/partners will either demand the same, or cry foul - and I'm sure the last time that happened is still etched in minds throughout Redmond as something to be avoided like the plague. We'll probably see them buying OnLive and rebranding the service as their own - but as a new service like this, an agile "startup" environment probably works better than being one small part of a giant corporation. The thousand-strong army of lawyers to check whether the shape of the letter T on the boot logo complies with Pakistan's calligraphy regulations is fine for billion-dollar product launches like Windows 7 - not so good for delivering a new web service...

  12. Keep Refrigerated


    It's telling when a company like Microsoft counts it a victory - not when a small company like OnLive manages to get potentially more people accessing and using their desktop (feeding their market dominance) but - when they manage to get said small company to accept more restrictive/expensive licensing.

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