back to article Microsoft gives away Windows 8 to Mac devs

Microsoft has decided the best way to get Mac-using developers to use Windows 8 for web compatibility testing is to give it away. Redmond today launched an offer to developers whereby they'd get Windows 8, Parallels desktop virtualisation software and a USB containing both if they make a $US25 donation to a charity through a …


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  1. E Haines

    > It's a little harder to see why Redmond wasn't keen to suggest Mac users install Windows 8 using Boot Camp

    Because using Boot Camp involves rebooting the machine, which is undesirable, not to mention that it requires that you dedicate a disk partition to another OS. If you're a developer, you're not going to constantly reboot the entire machine in order to test web sites if you can simply run a VM instead, and the virtualised OS can be contained in a disk image. It's not like running IE requires 100% CPU power.

    1. VaalDonkie

      It's not like running IE requires 100% CPU power.

      No, that would be Firefox.

      No, I am not an IE user, my browser of choice is Opera.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can you use this to upgrade the whole OS? I know that Apple don't support touch yet, but I would love to upgrade my MacBook to Windows 8. OS-X just sucks in so many ways.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

    >"Parallels will doubtless be chuffed with this arrangement, given Microsoft could have bundled the free VirtualBox or VMware Player or suggested use of Apple's Boot Camp to enable the same outcome. The parentage of the first two applications mentioned – Oracle owns VirtualBox, while Player's genesis needs no explanation – almost certainly means Microsoft was happier to nourish a minor competitor like Parallels instead of closer competition."

    Does anyone ever stop to consider that MS is an enormous software company, and that they probably don't have time to perpetrate an evil scheme against every competitor every time they want to make something available to the devs?

    Has it crossed your mind that possibly Parallels was simply the VM software that Sandeep and crew were most familiar/comfortable with using?

    Nah - now that I think about it, you're right - it's an evil scheme. Those tricky devils. Always up to something...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

      Let's just say that Microsoft doesn't exactly have a history of benign behaviour..

      I have a possible alternative answer. Parallels is IMHO the best usable VM for OSX, but a single license is $65, and an upgrade $35. By offering the whole bundle for a $25 donation, Microsoft knows damn well a whole host of devs will go for the bundle just for the Parallels license alone, but it allows them to claim interest in Windows from OSX devs.

      If you want to learn how to massage figures and statistics, don't go to Wall Street. The only actual innovation ever brought by Microsoft was exactly that, and they have that down to a fine art. What's more, they are entirely comfortable with presenting the result as "facts". They've had decades of practice, after all.

      1. A Long Fellow

        Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

        My experience is different -- I've found Parallels to be the least stable and most problem-prone of the OSX-based hypervisors... and on the Mac I've used them all since Connectix Virtual-PC with DOS back in the early 90s. YMMV.

        I'm afraid that "scheming" makes perfect sense in light of two decades of MS behavior. The last thing MS really want is for Mac devs to have a good time using their computers. Far better to sour the milk with a little FUD.

    2. Simon_Sharwood_Reg_APAC_Editor (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

      Andy, I wasn't trying to suggest that Microsoft is being evil or devious or even merely naughty.

      It just seemed odd to me that with free desktop virtualisation software out there for the taking, it's chosen a paid package for this promotion. Sure it makes a better incentive. But it also means Microsoft doesn't nourish any serious competitor, given Parallels is such a small outfit in the virtualisation world and hardly a threat to anything Microsoft does.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

        VMWare Player does not come with a commercial license, so would be worthless. VirtualBox is GPLv2 which some companies are uncomfortable with.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

          That and VMware is crapping it about Hyper-v at the moment, they've started putting out "MS isn't as good as us" documents, which are technically true, but only technically. They're along the lines of "Linux, better than Windows because Windows doesn't support 'ls'".

          No, VMware was not a candidate, I think they chose their only real option.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

        "given Parallels is such a small outfit in the virtualisation world"

        Parallels isn't a small outfit in the OSX virtualisation world, which I think is a bit more to the point, given that he's trying to attract OSX developers.

    3. danny_0x98

      Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

      Maybe simpler than that: Parallels said okay and gave a discount.

      It was very recently also part of an annual discounted bundle of Mac software.

      Oh, and if this was targeted at web developers, then a vm is definitely preferable. One would want to look at the page on IE, make adjustments in the editor, reload the page in IE, rinse and repeat. Who would want the cycle to include two reboots?

      So. Was the package attractive because of Windows 8 or Parallels?

      A couple of other thoughts. Your dudgeon over suggestions that Microsoft would throw new customer opportunities to a non-competitor — which I find plausible, but who cares which virtual product Microsoft chooses — is buttoned up with the suggestion that, perhaps, that is what Singhal's "crew" used. So the IE development team works on OS X and checks on virtualized Windows boxes? Seems expensive, but Microsoft is not a start-up.

      Also, why would start-ups using OS X be monitoring Mr. Singhal's blog? No conspiracies, merely curiosities.

    4. David Glasgow

      Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

      It's not scheming. It's business.

      Rule 473. Give NO succour unto thine competitor, for he will surely smite thee if he gets half a chance.

      Rule 475. Give succour unto thine competitor's competitor, in the hope that the latter will smite the former. Even just a little bit. It all addeth up.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

      Microsoft can never be trusted. This is a fact that has been proven over and over again.

      Embrace, extend, extinguish. Deception and deceit. Overly marketed shoddy products. Sneaking in weasel clauses into EULAs. Minions caught astroturfing redhanded. Petty, negative ads on its competitors. Fibbing about (subpar) sales numbers.

      And in more recent times, screwing with its hardware partners.

      Microsoft apologists think the 'haters' are still stuck in the 1990s. The reality is that a leopard never changes its spots. Microsoft is still the same old Microsoft.

      I am convinced that the characteristics of a CEO rub off on the corporation he/she is in charge of. Steve Ballmer is a belligerent, bumbling nincompoop. Microsoft is a reflection of him.

    6. VaalDonkie

      Re: Why are you so sure that they are scheming?

      Microsoft is one of those companies that want to make it easy for developers to be productive. Some well-known caveats apply.

  3. Vince Lewis 1

    A Mac at a price I'd pay

    Funny you should say about getting Mac devs to to use Won 8 by giving it away, because I recent got my first Mac at a price I was willing to pay for one. I found an old G4 iLamp in a skip.

    A lovely machine with a pretty OS, though I eventully had to install linux in order to queue and play multiple video files.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Mac at a price I'd pay

      Yawn. You just proved you've never been near a recent Mac for any length of time. Next..

      1. Vince Lewis 1

        Re: A Mac at a price I'd pay

        True, the last time I used a Mac, before the iLamp I found in a skip, was a Mac II when I was at school.

        After playing with the iLamp for a while I was impressed with the OS's speed with low memory, so I put it to use as a video player for the kids.

        However the iLamp was running an OSX version which was the contemporary of Win XP so the idea of selecting 2 or more video files and queuing them up should not have been beyond the realms of expectation.

        I did find various solutions, most based around scripting Quicktime to creating a single file based on the selected files or an even more complicated script that opened and closed Quicktime for each file, either way useless for what I wanted to do.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: A Mac at a price I'd pay

          "...the idea of selecting 2 or more video files and queuing them up should not have been beyond the realms of expectation ... I did find various solutions, most based around scripting Quicktime..."

          Ah. I see what you did there! What you've got to bear in mind is that, beyond OSX itself, almost all Apple software is totally and utterly shite –QuickTime Player being a prime example.

          However, you could have solved your video queueing problem [and replaced crappy QuickTime with a video player that actually works properly into the bargain] by just downloading <a href="">VLC</a>.

          Drag movie files into playlist window. Job done.

    2. danny_0x98

      Re: A Mac at a price I'd pay

      Unfortunately, the sunflower iMac's screen is too small these days, but I still have mine because I love its design.

      If I got serious about actively using it, I'd put Linux or a BSD on it, though I notice that enthusiasm for supporting those operating systems on a G4 is waning.

      You did get a great deal. Though I dare say that any computer from those times could have been resurrected as you did in the same way. That iMac, though, was the one that didn't look boring.

    3. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: A Mac at a price I'd pay

      I found an old G4 iLamp in a skip.

      Clean that up and put it on ebay. You'll get a couple of hundred ukp. Nice design.

  4. Goat Jam

    "without the performance-inhibitor that is a desktop hypervisor"

    I'm sorry, but I have been running various versions of Windows from 2000 thru 7 using a "desktop hypervisor" and without exception the perceived performance has been significantly better than Windows running directly on the same hardware*

    The difference is quite astonishing. I don't know why windows seems considerably snappier in a VM but there is no doubt that it does.

    That, and the utter pita that is dual booting (ie your bootcamp suggestion) means that the hands down best way to do browser compatibility testing is to run Windows in a <ahem> "desktop hypervisor"

    * Not counting things like 3D gaming of course

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      An unusual experience, I've never seem this Windows faster in a VM effect. What 'desktop hypervisor' are you using on which hardware to give you this exceptional result? Have you seen a similar 'perceived performance' boost using Linux or OS X in a VM?

      1. Michael Hawkes
        Thumb Up

        I've also seen Windows performing better in a VM (XP and Win 7 in VMWare Fusion on a Mac, Win7 and 2008 Server in Hyper-V on a Dell server), even when I dial down the number of cores and RAM the VM's are allowed to use. Running Windows 7 in Hyper-V with 1 GB of RAM runs better than Windows 7 on an Optiplex with 1 GB of RAM. I don't know why, but it does.

        I've run Ubuntu in VMWare Fusion and Ubuntu Server in Hyper-V but haven't played around with them enough to appreciate any difference in performance, though neither seems to suffer from the limited RAM I've allocated.

        1. JaimieV

          I've noticed this too

          I blame it on Windows being worse at disk caching than any of the host operating systems, so Windows in a VM gains performance from the host leaving much more of the virtual disk in RAM.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Re: I've noticed this too

            I've seen this phenomenon too, but with Windows XP guest running in a VM on a Windows XP host. Which was weird.


      2. VaalDonkie

        I reckon the reason why windows in a VM seems to run faster is because a VM for testing purposes would not have as much bloatware installed. having Outlook, SKype, GTalk, SQL Server, FIrefox and 3 instances of Visual Studio open is a sure way to grind your system to a halt. A VM is lightning quick by comparison.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Goat Jam

      Without some kind of benchmark figures to back it up, your assertion is useless.

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: @Goat Jam

        "without benchmarks" yadda yadda yadda

        1) I said "perceived" performance. I made no claims to it out benchmarking native hardware.

        2) Plenty of other people have noticed the phenomenon, I am not Robinson Crusoe here.

        3) The fact that you haven't tried/noticed it yourself is not my problem.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    “We heard that the most common way you test across browsers is through virtualization of browser and operating system combinations using your favorite virtualization platform, such as Hyper-V, VMWare, VirtualBox, or Parallels,” Singhal wrote

    True, and because of that the Microsoft website designer Expression Web 4 includes a program called SuperPreview (download link).

    What this program does is take several webbrowser engines and renders the page you're working on using those engines. It supports several versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (obviously) but also FireFox as well as Safari. The best part is that it can display the same page, but rendered by different engines, side by side and even indicate problem areas. You can read more about this program on it's MSDN page

    Yet guess what? This program gets dumped (it already lacked quite severely with regards to supporting modern browsers) together with Expression Web itself. There is also no comment (to my knowledge anyway) that it will surface again together with Visual Studio (which is the destined replacement for Expression web).

    So please excuse me for stating that I consider this move quite hypocrite to say the least. You already had an awesome tool, which not only could clearly display changes and differences, it could all be done on one single developers workstation. No need for virtualisation, VMWare, Hyper-V at all.

    You only needed to have the appropriate browser engines installed.

    Then again; this is Microsoft we're dealing with and they have a tendency to simply drop good working software on a snap.

    1. Eradicate all BB entrants

      Re: Hypocricy

      Did you miss the bit about this being an offer for developers using Apple hardware? To use the software you mentioned they would need something like Parallels and Win 8 anyway as I saw no .dmg links on the site you referenced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Did you miss the bit about this being an offer for developers using Apple hardware?

        No I didn't. As such I was referring to the comment in the article that Microsoft apparently thinks that using multiple OS's is the most common way to test different browsers. Which I consider to be a bit hypocrite since there are much better ways for this, one of them mentioned above.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy

          Re: Using multiple OSes to test pages

          Most of the engines out there will render things differently depending on the underlying OS. Even Firefox on Windows 7 will render a slight bit differently than the same build of Firefox on Windows 8. The engine and the OS are not entirely separated, specifically in the image and video rendering and in the appearance of certain controls. While something like SuperPreview or the like will give you a good idea, it doesn't give you a completely accurate one.

        2. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: @Eradicate

          Most computer graphics is done on Macs, and they are the ones that will be checking to see if the website looks good on the screen.

  6. Captain Scarlet Silver badge


    Dear MS,

    I use a Mac <Frantically hacks the registry from to say Windows 7 to Mac OS10.3 or something>, please give me Windows 8 for free.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahem

      please give me Windows 8 for free

      Now I know why they tie these licenses to machines. Otherwise you could have gotten a free copy from someone who upgraded to Windows 7.

      Anyone an assessment of how many hours labour have been lost due to fighting the GUI?

      1. h3

        Re: Ahem

        I think it is probably balanced out as losing nothing.

        Using taskman is far less of a fight for a start.

        The popups that an update needs a restart (That you need to postpone or it does it anyway don't happen).

        (I would say getting rid of those likely saved a large amount of time when it happens accidently).

  7. M Gale


    This offer also known as "please help us bug test Windows 8 in a virtual machine. We know it makes a really ill-behaved guest."

    No, really.

  8. Rusty 1

    To mis-quote Calvin and Hobbs...

    nouning weirds language.

    "... and a USB containing both"? What on earth is that? Is there any protection or antidote for it? It sounds nasty.

  9. Herby

    Does it include??

    A license for Windows 7, which is what people want?

    Now if it would work on my old Quadra, that would be another story.

    "How about a nice game of chess?"

  10. ThomH

    So then what's missing from the VMs available for free download?

    i.e. those on, which seem to include an option to grab 'IE10 - Win8'. Is the bundled Windows 8 in there limited in some means that the one on the USB stick wasn't?

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