As soon as you think you understand software companies’ policies on virtualization, a new problem appears that makes you tear your hair out and scratch your now-bald head. This month’s conundrum is whether or not VMware’s ThinApp product breaches your Microsoft Windows license agreement:
- VMware promotes this product with the headline “Extend the Life of Legacy Applications, Including IE 6 Applications, with Windows 7 Support.” http://www.vmware.com/products/thinapp/overview.html
- However, Microsoft, via its knowledge base, claims that “Running multiple versions of Windows Internet Explorer, or portions of Windows Internet Explorer, on a single instance of Windows is an unlicensed and unsupported solution.” http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2020599/en-us#top
- VMware doesn’t warn customers that ThinApp could cause them Microsoft licensing problems, but neither does it claim that it is legal. It merely advises customers to check with Microsoft.
So who is right, and what should you do if you want to upgrade to Windows 7 but have applications that only run in IE 6? It may be OK for Microsoft to discourage a virtualization solution such as ThinApp on technical grounds, but it hasn’t publicly justified its claim that it represents unlicensed usage. You can run up to 4 local virtual images on each device that you’ve covered with software assurance (SA), and I don’t see any reasonable grounds for differentiating commercially between a full OS instance and ThinApp’s embedded instance. I’m disappointed that Microsoft is blocking a VMware solution to a problem that will delay Windows 7 adoption.