back to article Microsoft's licence riddles give Linux and pals a free ride to virtual domination

Microsoft is caught in a monkey-trap, created by cloud computing and Free Software, coupled with short-term thinking and a dose of not-invented-here syndrome. You know how monkey-traps work? You make a small hole in a coconut shell, put some bait in it and tie it to something. The monkey comes along, reaches in for the bait …


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  1. yossarianuk

    KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

    As long as you set up the KVM vm correctly - i.e install in an LVM partition, set correct cache settings and use Virtio drivers it will outperform all other types of virtualisation.

    You HAVE you use the Virtio Disk drivers (as your installing in an LVM partition) or the Windows installer will not see any drives btw.

    (correct cache settings = native,none)

    Try it, benchmark it and you will see

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

      Not true. I have tried quite recently - Hyper-V and VMware both significantly outperform KVM, even when some effort has been made to performance tune KVM.

      I suspect that this is because KVM has to run virtualisation as an added function under the Linux Kernel, whereas Hyper-V Server and VMware both use dedicated hypervisor layers.

      This is not really news either - for instance both VMware and Hyper-V can reach over 1 million IOPS in a SINGLE VM - and did so well over a year ago. KVM as yet can't.

      1. yossarianuk

        Re: KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

        Did you house your Windows VM in an LVM partition, instead of a QCOW image?

        Only when I do that coupled with the cache settings NONE/NATIVE does Windows IO speed outperform other types of virtualisation - i.e you NEED to install inside an LVM partition (and use Virtio drivers to get 'proper' speed)

        Also your wrong about IOPS. KVM currently holds the IOP's world record...

        'KVM has achieved World Record IOPS: 1,402,720 IOPS on a IBM x3850 X5 for 8KB request using 7 SCSI pass-through devices.. For 1 KB requests, can achieve 1.65M IOPS.'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

          "Also your wrong about IOPS. KVM currently holds the IOP's world record..."

          That's a laughable test with *MULTIPLE* VMs - just piling it as high as they can - KVM can't manage 1,000,00 IOPS in a *SINGLE* VM - which tests the true scalability of the hypervisor...

          The more recent tests rom IBM that do claim to exceed 1 million IOPS are NOT using a production hypervisor. Hyper-V and VMware both did this on production releases nearer 2 years ago. KVM is desperately throwing beta software and the latest hardware at the gap to try and catch up with what competitors did 2 years ago...Not to mention that this performance is only achieved in a crippled environment where most of the hypervisor features like storage migration don't work!

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

            "That's a laughable test with *MULTIPLE* VMs - just piling it as high as they can - KVM can't manage 1,000,00 IOPS in a *SINGLE* VM - which tests the true scalability of the hypervisor..."

            [Redacted], Redmondian hyper-shill. Who the [redacted] runs one VM per host? KVM is good enough for Google, which makes it better than anything the rest of the world has. Google's tech > the rest of the world.

            Added bonus: they don't posses an Empire of Sadness.

            1. Vic

              Re: KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

              > Who the [redacted] runs one VM per host?

              I'm glad it's not just me thinking that...


      2. yossarianuk

        Re: IOPS - KVM speed

        Also regarding IOPS -

        " It also details test results that demonstrate that a single KVM

        guest can handle more than 1.2 million I/O operations per second (IOPS) at 8KB I/O request

        size and more than 1.5 million IOPS at 4KB and smaller request sizes – the

        highest storage I/O performance ever reported in a virtualized environment."

        So your statement regarding VMWARE /HyperV IOPS speed being greater than KVM was just plain wrong....

        I can only assume your benchmarking was also.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: KVM = fastest Windows Virtualisation performance

      It will outperform *because* of the cache, at the risk of data loss in the event of a power failure. Writes are confirmed when they hit memory, not when they are safely stored on disk.

      If you disable the cache (which you should do for safety) it's usually outperformed by others.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not up on MS licensing, so can't really comment, but from a position as someone who works for one of the big three backup companies we see a high demand for Hyper-v client and development of that client. I was at a meeting the other day where one of the execs described Hyper-v as "coming through like a freight train."

    It's also not the case that you can't easily chop Windows down to next to nothing. I run a small lab at home with VMware and Hyper-v hypervisors, the Hyper-v machine has a tiny footprint and is command line only, with practically nothing installed, I can take it all the way from there up to a full server with GUI, server services, applications , etc.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      As someone who is up on Microsoft licensing I can only say that there are reasons why I refer to Microsoft's licensing department as the Empire of Sadness.

      After war criminals and a few select violent sociopaths, those who people the Empire of Sadness are, in my opinion the worst individuals our species has to offer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You clearly have not dealt with Oracle licensing

    2. Tim Brown 1

      oh really?

      "It's also not the case that you can't easily chop Windows down to next to nothing."

      You could have a nice sideline in writing a guide as to how to do this, since it's not something that any official documentation provides.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: oh really?

        "You could have a nice sideline in writing a guide as to how to do this, since it's not something that any official documentation provides."

        Indeed, fellow anon, I'd like to learn how to do this, too. And what's the minimal size you end up with?

      2. Jim 59

        Windows chroot jail

        The article suggests MS should introduce "chroot jail" virtualisation to Windows. I am not an expert, but Windows might be too monolithic for that. If Windows is not easily chopped up, neither will it be easy to have "chroot" instances executing the same kernel.

  3. Justin Bennett


    This was solved years ago. Buy a Windows DataCentre edition license for each ESX or Hyper-V platform. That then allows you to deploy unlimited Windows Server OS on top. Job done.

    We saved a fortune on massive virtualisation estates by doing just this and far more importantly, simplified the whole licensing tracking & planning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy

      Hyper-V Server does NOT require a paid license. It is totally FREE with all features included.

      Licensing client VMs is exactly the same under any Hypervisor - be it Linux, VMware or Hyper-V.

      Therefore this article is a load of misleading FUD.

      "Microsoft doesn't recommend the freeware Hyper-V Server for serious workloads"

      Just utter rubbish. Hyper-V server is recommended for high end workloads as you don't have the overhead of Windows Server.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Easy

        "Microsoft doesn't recommend the freeware Hyper-V Server for serious workloads"

        Wrong - See -

        As an enterprise-grade, bare-metal hypervisor solution, Hyper-V Server 2012 offers the same level of scale, clustering, live migration and DR-replication capabilities as the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012, but at an unmatched feature/cost price point in the industry - an enterprise hypervisor feature set for FREE

        Why would I use Hyper-V Server 2012 instead of Windows Server 2012?

        In some scenarios, you may not need the additional capabilities of Windows Server 2012. For instance, you may be looking to setup dedicated hosts running only the Hyper-V role for consolidating large numbers of virtual machines on standalone or clustered hosts. In some cases, you may also not need the additional license grants provided by Windows Server 2012 - you may have already purchased your Windows Server licenses, or you may be setting up a client virtualization/VDI solution leveraging Hyper-V where Windows Server OS licenses are not needed for each VM. In these scenarios, Hyper-V Server 2012 makes perfect sense to deploy and integrate into your enterprise network.

      2. Liam Proven

        Re: Easy

        No problem - but they've changed their tune, then. My source was the Microsoft speakers at _Microsoft's launch event for WS2012_ which I covered here:

        ... and here:

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Easy

          You mean Microsoft told you to use the version that cost money? Somehow that isn't a shock...

    2. WOOOOO

      Re: Easy

      Datecenter edition licenses are a good option if your budget can cover them. It would make sense in a green field or an large enterprise. I have always worked in mid sized companies where projects are deploying a handful to a dozen servers at a time. The way the budgets are done just won't allow the huge expense of Datacenter edition for an entire cluster. When I first deployed ESX for a large(ish) VMware cluster to replace an all physical data centre we still re-used the existing licenses as we virtualised. In the long run you end up paying over the odds as Standard (or in the past Enterprise) versions are bought piecemeal, which MS must be well aware of and happy about!

      1. Liam Proven

        Re: Easy

        Yes, these certainly make it simple, but at (literally) a steep price.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Microsoft licensing is a bitch.

          I'll just link this here.

          There's more to licensing re: vritualisation than the OS shenanigans.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Microsoft licensing is a bitch.

            "There's more to licensing re: vritualisation than the OS shenanigans."

            That's VDI licensing. Not Hypervisor licensing....

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Microsoft licensing is a bitch.

              Yes. It's VDI licensing. I believe I was very clear about that. It doesn't change the fact that Microsoft licensing is a bithc, nor that every single person who works for The Empire of Sadness should [redacted] into [redacted] and then [redacted] [redacted] [redacted].

              And the horse they rode in on!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy's that easy!

      Apparently it was much easier to go out of his way to make the licensing sound complex - didn't even do a good job at it...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I think the problem goes even deeper..

    Interesting article and I can most certainly relate to all this. I'm currently using 2 in-house Windows 2003R2 servers and one 2008R2 for an ASP project and we ended up with the same conclusion. There are so many loopholes and uncertainties; it even seems as if the Microsoft sales agents also have no clue other than to advice you to go for the most lucrative licensing scheme (lucrative for them of course).

    It's depressing, especially if you're actually interested in the environment(s) and the technique.

    But the bottom line is quite simple really: Microsoft doesn't know how to appeal to the masses. You would think that after so many years with several competitors around (even those which cannot be bought) they'd smarten up, but no. There have been some very good moves (some commercials are very slick, some of the new features are very well designed too, etc.) but those are merely bits and pieces. In the overall it's one unappealing mess.

    Think about it: this is yet another situation in which their TechNet environment might have been able to help them (to a certain degree). For example; I hope we all know that TechNet is/was all about systems administration; you could lay your hands on pretty much anything which Microsoft provided and use it in test labs and such.

    They could have raised the bar a bit I think. Provide a "TechNet virtualisation" license which allows subscribers to use an x amount of specific client / server products within a (fully licensed) Hyper-V environment. It may certainly appeal, it makes things easier and the most important thing: it would generate more steady revenue for Microsoft.

    Bet they never thought of that, not to mention having little options left considering how they're going to whack TechNet instead of extending on it.

    They need to make it easier for the masses, not harder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think the problem goes even deeper..

      "They could have raised the bar a bit I think. Provide a "TechNet virtualisation" license which allows subscribers to use an x amount of specific client / server products within a (fully licensed) Hyper-V environment."

      TechNet (and MSDN) already does allow that.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: I think the problem goes even deeper..

        Technet's dead, Jim. And MSDN is beyond the means of your average non-enterprise sysadmin and many SMBs.

  5. Peter 39


    > ... you might not have met “OS-level virtualisation” before

    Err, sounds suspiciously like "time-sharing subsystem", which dates from the 60's IIRC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: interesting

      Actually it sound more like IBM's CP/CMS (VM)

      CP - The "Control Program" did the visualization.

      VM (Or VS1, DOS. MVS,...) was the OS.

      And you could run CP on top of CP.

      Amazing what they did with less CPU/memory than today's MP3 player..

      1. Liam Proven

        Re: interesting

        Nope, IBM VM is something quite different again - this is using one OS kernel to multitask multiple instances of another, different OS kernel, one per user. This is directly homologous to, say, running multiple Windows Server instances on VMware, or running multiple Linux instances on top of Hyper-V Server.

        Again, do buy the ebook. :-) I'm not on royalties here! It's just the best intro to the basic underpinnings that I could do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: interesting

          I don't need to read the ebook, I lived it. It was a really long time ago when I was running VM (and VS1) on an early 4341 but I think I remember how it worked.

          CP by itself was not useful - it only visualized the hardware.

          You needed a real OS to perform any work.

          The interesting thing was CP was so good that VS1 would run better on it then on the native hardware (CP handled memory/paging better then VS1 could).

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            You needed a real OS to perform any work.

            Which is why Windows 7's growth exceeds that of Windows 8. *ba dum tish*

    2. Liam Proven

      Re: interesting

      No, timesharing is something quite different. May I suggest my Reg ebook?

      The source articles are still on the Reg if you search for them.

      Timesharing means simultaneously multitasking multiple interactive user sessions; it's something totally different.

  6. ColonelClaw

    What do Reg commentors think about Microsoft's decision to charge full whack for a Server 2012 to 2012 R2 upgrade? Fair enough or tight fisted?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      It's entirely fair. Unlike Windows 8, which was a counter-rotating clusterfuck of pain, shame and psychological abuse, Server 2012 is a truly excellent operating system that was significantly improved by Server 2012 R2.

      Whereas the people responsible for the major design decisions of Windows 8 deserve to be [redacted] with [redacted] and [goats, again, really?] and then [nobody deserves exposure to the Empire of Sadness. Not even the endpoint team], the Server geeks did a fucking fantastic job and delivered a great operating system worth the full price upgrade.

      It was not, however, worth the $2000 price hike on top of the full price, nor the gutting of SPLA of the annihilation of partner rebates.

      But hey, my CentOS installations have gone up 2400% in the past 4 months. The price of rice is just too much for China...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "What do Reg commentors think about Microsoft's decision to charge full whack for a Server 2012 to 2012 R2 upgrade? Fair enough or tight fisted?"

      It's effectively free - it's covered under Software Assurance that you pay on your ELA.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "It's effectively free - it's covered under Software Assurance that you pay on your ELA."

        Okay, *YOU* are a Microsoft shill. Flat out. The bald-faced assumption that everyone pays a subscription fee and presenting this not only as a fait accompli but "normal" (without any comment or provision for the other 80% of businesses in the G8 nations) shows you attempting to push Micfosoft's preferred vision of the world in defiance of what the majority of the world actually looks like.

        In fact, you're probably an operative of The Empire of Sadness. I hope you [redacted] and [redacted] you [redacted].

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OS level virt won't be cheaper

    Because MS will add a license requirement for a POSE (partitioned OS Environment) as they will not want to eat into their cash-cow.

    1. dssf

      Re: OS level virt won't be cheaper "POSE" could stand for...

      "POSE" could stand for...

      pAIN oN sTART eVERYWHERE // Pain On Start Everywhere.

      How about a license called "PLIGHT" -- Possible Litigation Is Going High-Time...?

      On the serous, umm, SERiOUS side (seriously!), how long before virtual OSs will come to "green, disposable" (flushable/dissolvable) micro appliances so that users can either via wire or bluetooth or other air-delivered protocol surf with less need for worry about device (laptop, desktop, phone, household hardware)? Such virtual machines could be interfaces in the physical, too, either atttached to or sitting between individual devices, akin to a supercomputer-based anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-anything-you-despise-trying-to-get-on-your-devices firewall.

  8. Uncle Ron

    No mention is made in this article that a single OS instance with "containers" running the apps, is a serious single point of failure. When the OS goes, 10's to 1000's of containers go too. Not pretty.

    1. Liam Proven

      That is true of /all/ forms of virtualisation, though. If you're running dozens of Windows or Linux or whatever instances on top of a single copy of Windows Server with Hyper-V and that host copy of Windows goes down, all your instances are gone, instant toast.

      OS virtualisation makes no difference to this at all.

      Of course, this is what clustering and failover are for, but then again, if Windows integrated some form of containers, there is no reason at all that they could not fail over to containers on other hosts.

      1. DavidRoss

        While it's true that in the case of hypervisors like ESX or Hyper-V the guest OS's are at the mercy of the hypervisor, it's still a better solution.

        OS partitioning/virtualization techniques like Solaris Containers will never be popular (IMHO) because the

        management is too difficult. Sharing the OS and it's files means that every container must be taken down and patched - at the same time! This is practically an impossibility unless all your containers have the same management cross-section. This may be the case for some specific applications (VDI perhaps?), but makes creating a general purpose virtualization platform difficult!

        I realize some containers have tools to assist with migrating the containers - sometimes live, but mostly off - to another physical machine/OS instance. Analogous to VMware's "maintenance mode", but probably a lot more manual.

        Plus, as has been mentioned, the hypervisor can be as small amount of code as possible thereby reducing the bug and security fronts.

        Personally believe that containers are dead. Long live hypervisors!


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > No mention is made in this article that a single OS instance with "containers" running the apps, is a serious single point of failure.

      Similar to a h/w failure of the host or a VM hypervisor exposing a previously unknown but deadly bug. You've got to have some sort of backup/disaster recovery in place.

  9. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Missing components

    The article fails to mention one important element: management. VMware's Virtual Center Server is a relatively cheap investment, with most of the cost being in the hypervisor licenses, so any serious business will buy Virtual Center. With Microsoft, by contrast, serious management is done through System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. Anyone who has ever tried to license SCOM knows that SCOM licensing makes Windows licensing look sane and approachable. Nor is it cheap. In theory, Hyper-V is free, but if you want the enterprise-level features offered by VMware, you'll pay heavily for it.

    Furthermore, if you want service and support, you will then pay even more for a Microsoft (or, more likely, a reseller) support contract and then pay even more for Software Assurance. I have not crunched the numbers, but it's simply unbelievable that Hyper-V offers a reasonable TCO on a feature-by-feature comparison.

    1. Liam Proven

      Re: Missing components

      This is true, yes, but I did specifically say:

      > Then you need to licence the [...] layered products on top, such as Exchange or SQL Server.

      > Of course, various bundles and deals apply to all this.

      Those layered products include the high-end management tools.

      It's a complicated, hairy mess, as many Microsoft resellers said to me in my background research.

      1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

        Re: Missing components

        Believe me, I'm supporting your primary thesis, just making the point that the situation is even worse than your article makes it appear.

        Also, I'm guessing that the usual AC Microsoft shill will not have the stones to respond to this point.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing components

      "Anyone who has ever tried to license SCOM knows that SCOM licensing makes Windows licensing look sane and approachable. Nor is it cheap. In theory, Hyper-V is free, but if you want the enterprise-level features offered by VMware, you'll pay heavily for it."

      Cost of Hyper-V + FULL System Centre Suite is MUCH cheaper than even base vSphere + Virtual Centre costs...And Hyper-V includes features for free like replication / site recovery that are expensive addons with VMWare...

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "Cost of Hyper-V + FULL System Centre Suite is MUCH cheaper than even base vSphere + Virtual Centre costs"

        Completely untrue. Especially at scale, or down for the SMB level. (VMware Essentials Plus for the win.)

        Begone, Empire of Sadness hyper-shill. [Redacted]!!!

        1. KRC


          Sources are current retail prices as per VMWare and MS today, using today's exchange rates.

          vSphere + Ops Mgr Standard is approx. £1320 for a licence and about £990 for 3 years of support. So around £2300 per CPU all in.

          2012 R2 DataCenter is around £4500 and SystemCentre DataCenter is approx £2220, both prices including SA and are per 2 CPU's. That's around £3360 per CPU all in.

          What the vSphere price doesn't take into account is the virtual machines you're running on that environment. Anything more than 3 Windows Standard (without SA) instances running and you're better off taking the 2012 R2 DataCenter licenses. If you're anyone who wants to achieve high levels of Windows virtualisation then you'll actually be better off buying R2 DataCenter in addition to your vSphere licenses.

          Is MS licensing complex? In places yes. Is this one of them? No.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Good of you to join The Register today to clarify that !

          2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Except that only a very narrow slice of the market uses retail licensing. At the SMB side, you're using the SMB packages and by commercial midmarket size you're arguing volume licensing. Something VMware builds a LOT more flexibility into.

            1. KRC

              Ahh so now you don't want to use an apples to apples comparison? Coolio : )

              Well we can compare volume license level discounts if you like;

              Under VMWare VPP that single CPU from earlier would be worth 27 points, VPP discounts are 250-599 pts = 4%, 600-999pts = 6%, 1000-1749 = 9% and 1750+ = 12%.

              Under MS that single CPU would be worth 126pts. Select+ pricing discounts are an interesting thing to compare but you won't be far away from 500 pts (A) = 3%, 4000pts (B) = 10%, 10000pts (C) = 17%, 25000pts (D) = 24%.

              So I can get to discounts on MS quicker than I can on VMWare, though the first tier for VMWare is better. That's moot really because to get to the discounts for either i have to place a single order at the minimum point level so to actually get the discount I have to spend more with VMWare.

              Of course if you want to argue ELA versus EA all bets are off. There are boundaries but the final price is pretty much down to how well you can negotiate at the time and is pretty pointless trying to compare as guidance.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                It's not really "not wanting to do an Apples to Apples comparison" so much as it is "wanting to cut through marketing malarky."

                Microsoft crows about sticker price (using very carefully defined scenarios). VMware screams about TCO (again, using very carefully defined, enterprise-only scenarios). The answer is very much so in between.

                You answer is very much the same with the discounts schemes of the two as it is with the retail pricing. VMware is better as the low end and at the scale end. Microsoft absolutely cleans up in the middle. But neither one is guaranteed to be a better deal than the other unless you analyze the very specific cases for each customer. Microsoft is not cheaper than VMware. If can be, in some circumstances, but it also can be a lot more expensive.

                For Microsoft to be cheaper you have to be working in Microsoft guest OS licensing and presuming (heavily) that these will be the predominant VMs in use. That's less and less the case these days. CentOS is spreading like a weed in the datacenter, even in enterprises that were traditionally Microsoft shops!

                In addition, you are presuming that Hyper-V and VMware are equal. They aren't. My experience shows you can cram more VMs per host in almost any given environment onto VMware infrastructure than Microsoft, lower your costs there as well.

                I'm not even touching the OpEx costs with a stick except to say that OpsMan is way easier to use. That's a subjective thing.

                I'm no VMware fanboy here. I'm not a Microsoft fanboy either. I think both companies charge way to much and screw us all up and down the pipe...but in the real world neither has a decided advantage. Both have areas of strength and weakness, in operation as well as pricing.

                Microsoft was best for the hobbiest. Well, until they killed technet. Fuckers.

                VMware owns the up-to-three-node space. Microsoft owns the space between that at somewher ein the middle of the commercial midmarket. From there VMware takes over again for a spell. There's a brief area around the "this turns into proper enterprise territory" where Microsoft is cheaper for a bit again and then VMware is going to consistently be cheaper.

                With very few exceptions, retail pricing means bupkus and is only a fraction of the costs that have to be worried about. Neither solution exists in isolation. It's not just the licensing that's an issue, it's that - quite frankly - almost nobody buys "full stack from one vendor" solutions. This is on some instances a purely price issue. In most others, however, it's because the OpEx costs of third party offerings are so significant that they outweigh any benefits of the "complete stack" play.

                Maybe if this were 2006, where Microsoft was ascendant and a virtual monopoly in the datacenter it would be easier to call. But they're not, and they won't ever be again.

                Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some CentOS templates to build.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virtuozzo licensing has no benefits over any other hypervisor

    Re: Virtuozzo

    "With the most basic kind of OS-level virtualisation, you're only running a single copy of the OS, so that's all you have to license. Obviously, apps are separate but their licensing isn't a technical problem, it's a commercial one."

    I don't want to burst anyone's bubble but that isn't correct and anyone following this advice could get quite a surprise at audit time.

    According to page 13-14 of Windows on Virtuozzo must be licensed for each 'virtual' instance.

    In addition to that, licensing does become a technical problem as all 'virtual' instances share the same hardware spec (number of CPUs, RAM etc.) so for any application that is licensed on hardware spec you have no flexibility.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Virtuozzo licensing has no benefits over any other hypervisor

      Trust the Empire of Sadness to have per-emptively prevented innovation yet again.

      1. kwyj

        Re: Virtuozzo licensing has no benefits over any other hypervisor

        I don't think it was pre-emptive and Virtuozzo isn't really anything new - it's been around for years but never really took off for a number of reasons. Uptime, lack of live migration capabilities, Windows being a SPOF etc.

        IIRC, Microsoft have had the same Virtuozzo-specific licensing terms since Server 2003.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Virtuozzo licensing has no benefits over any other hypervisor

      "In addition to that, licensing does become a technical problem as all 'virtual' instances share the same hardware spec (number of CPUs, RAM etc.) so for any application that is licensed on hardware spec you have no flexibility."

      No they don't. You can configure the Virtual Instances to whatever number of cores and RAM you desire.

      The ONLY vendor I am aware of that requires you to license on the basis of the underlying rather than the allocated hardware is Oracle...

  11. Mikel

    If you need to be sure you're violating a license

    Microsoft is there for you, with licenses that are so inscrutable you're sure to be in violation.

  12. dssf

    Inject between OS and Userspace to Contain a Crashy App...

    If this were easily accessible to semi-competent USERS, such a VM-like piece of code could be used for making existing OS more resilient and less subject to crashy apps. For example, I use a CAD app that now is around 30MB in file size, yet in RAM consumes 700-1,000 MB. At some point, when unhiding previously HIDDEN (not "off" layers being turned "on", but stuff selected and then hidden, which I think adds to the file size reaching 60 MB on some saves, and then other saves dramatically dropping to 27-35MB), the CAD app and Win 7 BOTH no longer can accept keyboard shortcuts such as the Shift key. Caps Lock works, but then given the dearth of shortcuts in the CAD app, it becomes suddenly torturous trying to continue to work, meaning using the menu and visible icons and any still-accessible keystroke shortcuts. Curiously, not ALL the Shift-related or Ctrl-related keys die, just random ones.

    The machine has not been on the net for months, and the behavior seems ONLY apparent when that in-RAM-large-ish file is running. When I attempt to write in Notepad or any other app, no Shift combinations for letters will type as upper case. This forces me to menu-level save the file, then shut down the app. Then, I have to shut down (it seems, not just "restart") Win 7. That OS is running in VirtualBox (an out-of-date-version), running in an out-of-date version of PC LinuxOS, on an 8-GB laptop with 4 dediced to Linux and 4 to VBox to hand over to W7. Again, it appears to be the file size in RAM, and maybe it's due to the fact that the CAD app is 32-bit, not 64-bit. The issue only started to become visible weeks ago, but I may have experienced it a year ago and just did not know it was apparent had I tried to type in Notepad and word processing apps.

    So, I wonder whether virtual machines could run individual apps in parallel, but bridge them in a way the one mirrors the open files, but guards against crashiness in the file or against the app trashing and thrashing Win7.

  13. Bladeforce

    The sooner we get away from..

    anything associated with Microsoft the better for tech, education, openess and the world

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "the familiarity of Windows"

    The same BS that sold NT.

    And Pen Windows

    Repeat Ad nauseum.

    1. yossarianuk

      Re: "the familiarity of Windows"

      Some people were blessed knowing computing before Windows Monopoly damaged computing in the mid 90's and will never be happy using it - thank fuck.

  15. JohnZanni

    Parallels Containers for Windows

    Parallels Containers for Windows is a good alternative to hypervisors if you need a high density virtualization solution that can rapidly provision and de-provision Windows workloads. Using containers technology for Windows hosted desktops and applications is a great cost efficient alternative

  16. Mikel

    LTSP, kvm

    Thank goodness I never took the trouble to become addicted to this nonsense. If I want to run one VM or a million and access them from anything anywhere the price is $0 and there will be no audit. As if I would let some stranger poke about on my computer. What nonsense is this?

    Completely unrelated: is IIS still licensed per user? I always found that hilarious.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LTSP, kvm

      And I never understood why MS SQL server had to be licensed on how many CPU's the machine had.

  17. W. Anderson

    Formulas for Windows solutions still fall short

    Liam Proven's story deals with various serious issues facing Microsoft, but proceeds to contradict his own logic and reasoning on a couple of points.

    For example, he explains that Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is generally without or with considerably less cost than comparative Microsoft virtualization and OS software solution, but appears to intimate that the only differences between the two competing technologies are in the convoluted and confusing system licensing model from Microsoft versus the clean and simple licensing model from Redhat FOSS, for example. Even if Microsoft had a substantially simpler licensing model, the overall costs of Microsoft solutions of same type from FOSS would still remain significantly greater.

    On his point of Microsoft Server OS not having equivalent "scalability" of BDS UNIX-like and Linux, a Microsoft solution with Parallels or Virtuozzo based (or similar to) containerization would therefore under perform for that very reason, against which BSD and Linux 'container' virtualization scale exceptionally well. Netflix is using FreeBSD with their "Jails" containerization for very flexible and powerful deployment of thousands of Appliance servers to stream millions of movies to subscribers each and every hour. The latest Microsoft solutions failed miserably in their evaluations and testing.

    If one has to "double" - at minimum - the quantity of Windows Servers for containerization scaling to a level even near to that of the *NIX solutions, then the Windows solution is not a viable proposition – in performance, reliability, critical security and particularly cost wise.

  18. itscoldhere

    All your conflicting comments just serve to highlight...

    how true this article is.

    Anyone who's lived through Microsoft licensing hell will surely be motivated to make their life less painful and avoid dealing with them unless ordered to by some pointy-haired boss.

    It's not enough that only about three people in the world actually understand Microsoft licensing (and they're all lawyers in Redmond), but every time you think you've got your head around the model and won't get screwed by the next MS license audit, they go and change the rules and send you back to square one.

    Who needs this crap -- just go FOSS and focus on solving real problems and not ones manufactured by evil lawyers.

  19. c:\boot.ini

    > Windows techies are much cheaper than skilled Linux devops types.

    Window cleaners are much cheaper than skilled Linux devops types.

    there, fixed that!

  20. Exportgoldman

    I usually agree with the reg, but this article is a load of hogwash, doesn't mention app-v which is virtualisation or even windows server non-GUI install which removes around 70% of the install footprint for the windows server os install which the writer laments that only Linux can do for the thousands of Linux machines in a farm. Look at the security patch info for example from memory only 2 of the 80 odd patches last time I checked effected this non-GUI windows install which used less memory.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Exportgoldman

      Thank you for joining the Register today to give us your (undoubtedly unbiased) views

  21. marcus777

    Monkey trap maybe . . .

    . . . handful of banana, not much longer.

    I must respectfully disagree with your assessment of the situation. There is at the present moment absolutely NO reason to use Microsoft servers (or licenses) ever again. Actually, the ones caught in the monkey trap are the managers and admins who believe articles like this one.

    Its time to let go.

    Gnu/Linux is the only virtualization strategy that makes any sense from a commercial admin standpoint and certainly from a licensing standpoint. Also, with the recent NSA debacle and the Snowden revelations, it is very clear to many of us that free "libre" systems are the correct path into the 21st century. Closed proprietary systems must go. This is not an anti-anything statement... its just the truth.

    Proprietary systems are a bad idea for freedom in the coming century.


    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Monkey trap maybe . . .

      A) Legacy systems with massive sunk investment and which would take even more massive investment to migrate away from.

      B) Please link me to even one independent code review (let alone a hardcore security audit!) of an entire Linux distro. The many eyes and many hands contributing commits include those of the NSA.

      I'm all for Linux, but you're talking bollocks.

      1. Ronny Cook

        Re: Monkey trap maybe . . .

        (A) Is of course true and explains a hell of a lot of the broken software in current deployment.

        Re: (B): True, but with Linux you at least have the option of checking the source code, and there are a lot of eyes looking at new code committed to the kernel.

        With Windows and other binary-only systems the only way to do such checking is to decompile (which is usually not allowed by the licence anyway).

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Monkey trap maybe . . .

          The option of checking the source doesn't help you if you don't have the time, skills or money to do so.

          The Linux Kernel is a small, small fraction of a distribution.

  22. El Andy

    Microsoft's VDI licensing is unbelievably complex and has a tendency to eradicate the cost savings that VDI is supposed to bring. Straight up server virtualisation, on the other hand, is relatively simple and hardly the realm of rocket science. And Hyper-V is largely covered by licensing the OS itself, as well as offering the benefits of sliding straight into an existing management structure,

    If you're looking for the utterly retarded end of virtualisation licensing, look no further than VMWare, where it actually gets more expensive the more densely you consolidate VMs. On what planet is that still a sane choice?

  23. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Monkey trap

    Microsoft gets right arm stuck: Solution is to chew off left arm just so it won't happen again.

  24. schofiel

    Virtualisation invented by IBM?

    Someone needs to check their facts - English LEO had virtualisation on LEO II and LEO III machines in the mid 50s.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Virtualisation invented by IBM?

      Citation needed.


  25. Ronny Cook

    True story

    A few years ago the company I was working for at the time was looking to rejig its work setup. One option we looked at was thin clients using Office on virtual office desktops (possibly as virtual client systems).

    After a week or so we threw up our arms and just bought regular desktops. Figuring out the exact costs we would have to pay for VDI licensing, Office licences, Terminal Services and so on was something that even our licensing partner couldn't figure out (or at least was unwilling to tell us).

    Later on we virtualised our desktops. Initially we used KVM (later moving to VMware). Hyper-V we largely avoided, partly because of the licensing cost and capabilities of the Hyper-V platform, but also because from what we could tell every virtual system we licensed we would have to licence with an additional CAL on the Hyper-V box.

    MS licensing is a mess. In their attempts to monetise every incremental improvement in capability, they're driving people away from their platforms.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vmware licencing may be simple but it is still absurdly expensive. 5 times the cost of the hardware that it replaces is ludicrous and never going to be an option for a vast segment of the virtualisation market who have no interest in running hundreds of VMs on a single physical server but are looking to consolidate and add resilience.

    The free version of ESXi excludes the exact features that SMEs need and the step up to a paid version is far too big to even consider. (The token essentials offering adds no new functionality except for the mild convenience of listing servers in one window rather than several!)

    Not only do SMEs contribute 50% of GDP, they grow into the big business that will stick with products that they know. With this current approach of pretending they don't exist VMWare are literally giving away the market which several years ago they had 'virtually' cornered. I don't know if this is through greed or complacency but either way it is down right foolish.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      Essentials Plus is less than $5500 for 3 servers and offers everything you could possibly want, virtualisation-wise, including backups and VCSA. Look, I've been accused by some of being "the big voice of small business." I'm a cranky, pro-SMB type who is always looking to grind costs...

      ...but you're talking bollocks.

      Item Description Qty Unit Price Total

      CORE Supermicro FatTwin F627G3-F73PT+ 1 $5,304.00 $5,304.00

      CPU Intel Xeon E5-2609 8 $309.00 $2,472.00

      RAM 16GB DDR3 ECC REG 64 $158.00 $10,112.00

      LAN Dual-port Intel X540 included 1 $0.00 $0.00

      RUST 4TB WD WD4000F9YZ 8 $269.99 $2,159.92

      FLASH Crucial CT480M500SSD1 480GB 8 $316.99 $2,535.92

      HV VMware Essentials Plus Kit 1 $5,439 $5,439.00

      TOTAL $28,022.84

      Even the companies I support can afford that. VMware essentials plus gives you licensing for 3 nodes - in this case hella beefy ones - and this configuration gives you an entire cold spare node for under $30K.

      So what the fucking fuck are you on about?

  27. Hideki

    Shared kernel virtualisation is a bad idea.


    Shared kernel virtualisation is a Bad Thing (tm) when offering Linux to your customers...

    The moment a single customer wants to install a kernel module, they can't! Then the only way to actually do it is to ask the admin to install the module on your processing node and if my experience is typical (and the design suggests it is) this then involves either a reboot of the node causing problems for everyone else on it or more likely a wait for a scheduled reboot.

    Once when with a VPS company who shall remain nameless, I had to actually wait nearly three MONTHS (paying all the while) for them to install TUN/TAP modules so I could use the VPS as the VPN endpoint I'd bought it for!

    Shared kernels are bad for customers although good for sellers as they can shove more users on the node for less money.

    1. Vic

      Re: Shared kernel virtualisation is a bad idea.

      > this then involves either a reboot of the node

      You're rebooting machines to load kernel modules?

      modprobe is so much more effective...


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