Apparently Microsoft is very concerned about the security of Vista, so much so they have decided that those individuals wishing to run Vista in a virtualization environment, they will have to buy the more expensive editions of Vista; even if all they need are a few applications that run only on the Windows platform. Okay, so what does this mean? Well, if you don't own an Intel Mac or you don't run Linux as your standard OS; it means little. If you are tempted to buy a Mac because you know you can now run Windows applications on an Intel Mac using either Boot Camp to boot directly into a Windows partition or via virtualization software that allows you to run Windows as though it were a program on a Mac or Linux based computer; then you will care.
Here is the link to the story that ran in the Seattlepi.com. Basically Microsoft is saying that if you run the lower end version of Vista (the home versions) the EULA "End User License Agreement" states that you can not use your license to run your copy of Vista in a virtual session. They say that they can not guarantee security, and it seems the end game here is to ensure that less savvy users that might get the home versions may not have the savvyness to make necessary adjustments to ensure security. Of course to many the whole conversation is rich since Windows is not know for being super secure. Microsoft says the security holes are due to the new virtualization optimization Intel and AMD have done recently with their new chip lines to improve the experience of software tasks like OS Virtualization.
What people are thinking is that there is more to this decision, that this is more of a marketing decision than a security and safety decision. Many don't think that the holes Microsoft is worried about that are apparently exploitable in a virtualized environment, are really a big enough problem to forbid the use of the low end versions on Intel Macs and Linux PCs.
If you are wondering what a Virtualized environment looks like, check out the photo to the right. It shows Vista running in a window on an Intel Mac. The software known as Parallels has become a major player in the Mac OS world as it is allowing "switchers" the ability to easily run their favorite Windows apps on their new Intel Macs. These apps may be for work or a tool they need to complete some process that doesn't yet have a Mac counterpart or not one they like. The software costs about $80 with the home versions of Vista running $199 and $239 (new license). The version users will have to buy costs $299 and $399.
I'm sorry, but the whole thing sounds a bit fishy. You would think that Microsoft would want to sell as many copies as possible, but they may see opportunity here. Folks that needs to run Windows on a Mac that don't want to use Boot Camp (allows the user to boot a Mac as though it were a PC); may have no option but to buy the more expensive version of Windows. It doesn't have better security, as far as I know, so it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I will have to read more to see if ever makes sense to me; but I don't have a great deal of hope. To make it even more confussing, the home versions will run in a virtualized environment, it's just against the EULA. I guess that means if you do it, and you get caught... you are going to jail!