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MacEdition: Mac OS X Server Virtualization Coming to a Computer Near You!

Mac OS X Server Virtualization Coming to a Computer Near You! · 2008-01-18

One of the big advantages of Apple’s move to Intel Processors for Macs is the availability of virtualization solutions allowing users to run multiple operating systems on the same computer. Granted, we have been doing this for a long time with products like Virtual PC, but the switch to Intel meant that operating systems could run without emulation, allowing software to run at near native speeds.

Microsoft has decided not to do much with Virtual PC for Mac, but both VMware and Parallels have done well with the desktop versions of their software. At this week’s MacWorld, both companies announced that their products would now operate with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server.

To many, this is business as usual, but it does represent the first time Apple has changed its license to allow OS X to run in a virtual machine. Previously, you could only install virtual machines of other operating systems using VMware or Parallels, and the license is not available for Mac OS X 10.5 client, so the feature is disabled. With server, you can run multiple instances of Leopard (on Apple hardware, of course), which is often the best way to take advantage of processors with multiple cores. It is also essential for businesses who like the ability to test server software changes before deploying.

Apple surely hopes that its beefed up hardware will allow it to sell more XServes and RAID systems to the enterprise, but the most interesting part of this deal is the change to the license. VMware and Parallels can run OS X client just as well as server. Would Apple be willing to change their license a little bit more to allow OS X Client to run inside a virtual machine on non-Apple Hardware? It would open up the world of OS X to anybody who has Windows or Linux. We know that Apple’s margins are in the hardware, but as Apple’s market share continues to go up, it might be a good way to entice more Mac users into the fold. Apple can effectively allow OS X to run on generic PC Hardware, but never officially have to support it. That seems like a deal both sides can live with.

— Joe Fahs


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