Reactions to our white paper on Microsoft and licensing

I guess our white paper on Microsoft licensing was perceived as aggressive. Headlines included "fires a broadside," "vilifies," "attacks," "blasts," "rails," "wallops," "complains," and "criticizes." ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley speculated we were preparing for an anti-trust lawsuit. A few people (including Techworld’s Manek Dubash, as linked by Microsoft’s Patrick O’Rourke) thought VMware was whining, especially since we seem to be ahead. InfoWorld’s Randall Kennedy called it a "breathless diatribe" and accuses us of FUD.

Microsoft responded with what the Register called "marketing bologna" — an official response that said VMware has simply misunderstood what’s going on, but rather than explain to everybody what the misunderstandings are, they will let VMware know privately how they are mistaken. Any discussions between Microsoft and VMware or EMC are way above my pay grade, so I can’t give  insight there.

But it should always come down to customers and getting things done. Christian Mohn weighs in with a story:

Some time ago Microsoft approached the Gallery
project, asking us why we were not actively supporting MS SQL Server as
a RDBMS option. Our reply was simple; We don’t have the licenses needed
for our developers to be able to develop for that platform, and the
Gallery project is not in a position where we want to spend a lot of
money on licenses for developers.

In the end we settled on using the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition VHD
for our development purposes. That enabled us to get quite some testing
and bugfixing done, so it has definitely helped the Gallery project,
but the VHD is limited to a 30 day trial, which effectively means that
we need to rebuild it every 30 days. The second problem with using it,
is that you have to run it inside Microsofts Virtual Server software.
Converting the VHD renders it useless. Again this means that every
Gallery developer that wants to test their code on Microsoft SQL
Server, will have to run this on a Windows based host.

Running this with VMware Server/Player, or even Xen, would have been
much more flexible since we wouldn’t have to worry that much about
which host OS the developers use.

Other blog reactions from Alex at (1 and 2) and Scott Lowe (1 and 2) are also well worth reading. In general, I found blog reactions more nuanced than the trade press, who tended to focus on the fisticuffs. In the meantime, we’ll keep on making good products and you folks keep on doing cool things with virtualization. Use the products that work best for your situation. If all this fuss makes you or your boss want to wait until the dust settles, go talk to your peers at other companies. There a reason for all the buzz.


[Update: more from SearchServerVirtualization. Note to Virtual Iron: anyone can get the VMDK spec. Best quote from Dugie’s Penseive: “Here’s the exciting burning question, how much better will
Virtualization interoperability get? How aggressive is that curve going
to be? I want to see that curve so steep, you can just feel the gforces
kicking in!]

[Update 2: From Manek’s comment, clarified that he originally used ‘whinging’ in Techworld, which was then linked to by Patrick @ Microsoft. I don’t want to imply that Microsoft called us whiners directly. Read Manek’s whole article for the complete context.]


0 comments have been added so far

  1. I think bloggers ought to voice their real opinions. Using headlines like “Microsoft warns EMC..” seems rather inappropriate to me. There is no need to fan the flames.
    Address issues and problems that you might encounter like what Christian did. Discuss you experiences.

  2. It would be nice if VMware made available the programming info. for their VGA devices an so on, so that Plan 9 and other platforms not supported by VMware tools (OpenBSD – I know the ABI FreeBSD get round this unsatisfactorily) could write their own device drivers.

  3. Actually, to be fair, it’s not Microsoft’s Patrick O’Rourke who accused VMware of whining.
    I’m afraid it was me. I wrote that first story for Techworld that’s abstracted in the O’Rourke blog, which you get to if you follow the link.
    And – as ever — taking a few paras of an 800-word feature out of context doesn’t do justice to the nuances of the situation.

  4. Tarry,
    The driver for the VMware virtual SVGA adapter and virtual tablet device have been open sourced for years. The easiest way to get them is to download the X source code at

  5. MS – Don’t gild the virtualization lily

    Alan pointed out to me that VMware had a whitepaper railing against Microsoft’s position on 3rd party virtualization software. Peaking my interest, I checked it out. VMware has created a great deal of excitement with their virtualization software. And …

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